This piece was written by Marthe Staerkebye.
I’m about to face the biggest and most heartbreaking challenge of my life. After spending more than 10 months in the United States of America, with all its perks and disadvantages, I soon have to face something I’ve been dreading ever since I stepped off the airplane. They say you shouldn’t count the days, but make the days count. This is something I’ve been desperately trying to do, especially now since I don’t have much time left. Suddenly, I have to say goodbye.
What is worse – building a life for 16 years and leaving it for a year, or building a life in one year and leaving it forever? Before I left Norway in August of 2013, I told my friends and family something I knew would help them while I was gone: “Don’t cry, I’ll be back before you know it.” Almost a year has passed and they can all agree on the fact that time has flown by. In less than a month I have to say goodbye to my host family and all the friends I’ve made here. Sadly, I can’t give them the same promise, because who knows when I might be back? I would never turn my back on the US forever, but now it’s time to face a different direction.
Being an exchange student is not a year in a life, but a life in a year, and it’s important that you try to make the best out of it. Thankfully, I feel like I have. My host parents, Mark and JoAnne, have been more than just a host family. They opened up their hearts and their home, and gave me an experience of a lifetime, an experience I know I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else in the world. My friends have taught me how to live in America as an American, the sole purpose as to why I wanted to become an exchange student in the first place. My favorite memories are with them, but there’s still room in the scrapbook for more, so I’m not saying my final goodbyes yet.
To answer the question I asked myself earlier, it’ll be more difficult to leave the year I’ve created here because I know it’s not going to be the same when I come back. When I eventually make my unexpected return, it’s not going to be a déjà vu moment. Instead, it’ll just be a Norwegian returning to her second home, a home that hopefully will always be there to welcome her back. Thank you for making my exchange year a life I wish I could relive over and over again. Until later, University High School.