Before we went on our exchange year, we were told that this was going to be an experience of a lifetime. However, we were not told that we were going to develop such a strong and intimate relationship with our host country and everyone there. Many of my friends are leaving Germany soon as their exchange year are coming to an end, none of them want to leave, but they have to. At one point or another in your exchange year, you will realize you want to stay here forever and not go back to your respective home country. I guess you can say leaving your host country is as hard as leaving your home country.
Most of us go on an exchange program that last from 6 months to 1 year. When we first arrived, everything was new to us, the culture, the food, the people, but as time passes by, we start to get familiarized with everything here, waking up at 7.00 am to go to school, eating dinner together at the dining table. Despite how boring school can get, it has already become a daily routine that we are so used to. It is exactly like when we were leaving our home countries, knowing that we will not be able to be part of everyone’s life for the next year and only realizing at that point, how we have been taking everything for granted.
No matter how bad you miss your home country or how awful your exchange year might be (but if you ask any given exchange student, they would say it is the best experience ever), we have already considered our host country as our home, we might not realize it, but the shift has definitely taken place. I am not saying that Malaysia isn’t my home anymore, it still is, it is just that now I have two, and probably even more in the future.
Many of us were told that our exchange year wasn’t real, that it was a long vacation away from home, that it’s not going to last. However, deep down, we know it is real, the friendships we establish, the emotions we experience, the love we cultivate for our host country. We want it to last. We don’t mind people saying we’re avoiding responsibilities and not wanting to come back to reality because it is true. Our experience is simply so magical and wonderful that it almost doesn’t feel real. We probably cherish our exchange year so much because we know it is almost impossible for us to live a life like this again.
People would say, you could still visit them in the future, and we will simple smile and nod. It is not that we disagree but because we know that it will not be the same anymore, the people and the location might be the same, but the emotions would definitely be different.
To all my friends who are leaving Germany or any other country soon, the exchange year or experience might end, but the memories will stay forever. The year might end, but not our friendship. Thank you for making my exchange life more memorable and exciting, all the best in your future!