Saying goodbye to the people I love is my biggest fear, and that goes for everywhere.
When I left my home country, or even before I left – just a few months or days before I stepped into the plane to start a completely new life – I felt unsure about my decision. Probably even more than unsure. I felt lonely and replaceable. I was really sad.
For some of you, it sounds odd or inexplicable. But I never left home for more than two weeks in a row. I never lived with people I didn’t know or spoke a language which is not my native language.
It broke my heart to let my little brother get older without me being there, living like an only child, or sitting in my room and seeing all the pictures of me, but never the real me. It broke my heart to leave my parents alone. My mom alone with my dad and my brother, I mean she is probably drowning in Star Wars Episodes, haha.
But in the end what made me cry at the airport was seeing my mom cry and realizing that nothing is going to be as it was before. I knew that there will be people coming while I go away and that they could take your place, or even, they will take your place. You could just hope and trust your friends to do the right things and keep you in their minds while you are gone. Some people probably replaced you, but there will be your real friends who will never be able to even think about replacing you.
Now think about how you feel going back to the place you’ve been born at, or at least the place where “home” is. But the quote “Home is where your heart is” is right. Only you decide where your home is. It doesn’t even have to be a single place or a place at all. It can be a feeling, like the feeling you get when you see your friends every morning waiting at your locker or in the classroom for you, or the feeling of being accepted and loved again, and again, and again. Every single day. Home can also be a thing or a special occasion, a tradition like celebrating New Year’s in the middle of a big concert, or in the middle of a wheat field throwing glitter in the air.
For me, my exchange home is my home, my family and my friends here are my home, but also my home country, my real family and friends are my home. Besides those little things like dressing up, or going out for dinner every Friday night here in my host country are my home.
Going to the gate in June, knowing all of that, won’t make it any easier to say goodbye, to be honest, it makes it even harder.
But what I wanted to say is that it is okay to want to go back home at the end of your exchange year. There will be a time when you are back in your home country when you want to go back to the other home you have, 5000 kilometers away. And that is okay.
I will still stand at the airport crying my heart out because I have to leave. I will still call my family in my exchange country every weekend, just like I did it with my natural family. There won’t be a difference.
Most people think that leaving after their exchange year means leaving forever. But that is wrong. Coming back depends on if you try to keep in touch if you try to save your money, and if you really want to. Knowing that, back in your head, knowing that you really want it and that you do it will help you to keep more than one home. It won’t make it easier to leave, but it will make it easier to live.