I know, I know... the whole "writing a blog about all my experiences and stories" thing did not really work out as good as expected. BUT there is actually a good reason for that. By the time I realized how precious my time of my exchange was. I kept being busy, learning new things and having a lot of experiences.
I can't believe how fast the time ran out. I almost spent seven months away from home and now I realized that I created a second one in North Carolina. There are so many important things I achieved in this time. My English became way better than it used to be, my knowledge about other cultures improved a lot, I became very in mature and the most important thing: I learned a lot about myself. I found my sense of life and what I am supposed to do to contribute something to this amazing world. Becoming friends with people, who aren't my age, hanging out with people whose first language isn't the same as mine, getting to know someone who doesn't come from your social class. This is how I see the world, this is how I grew. Whenever I'm unsure if I should take advantage of an opportunity, I always ask myself: "Will I regret not doing this when I'm 90?"
Of course it was not easy for me to get all these achievements. I had hard times, where I had to face a lot of challenges. But another thing that I learned, was that if you never tasted a bad apple, you would not appreciate a good apple. You have to experience life to understand life and the challenges are the ones that make you grow and come out of your comfort zone. And on top of that I learned the difference between school and life: In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson. One of my big role models once said: "It is the cave that you fear that will hold the treasure that you desire."
Think about it...
During the time I spent there, I made a new life resolution: To be fully and authentically me. Fact is, that I am not the same person I used to be before this adventure started. It is not that someone changed me or that I changed myself, no. I just found out who I really am and the only thing that changed is my way of thinking. Maybe the journey isn't so much about become anything. Maybe it's about unbecoming everything that isn't you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.
A lot of people asked me, how the people are over there. I'm not gonna lie, but I can not really say a lot about that. I mean yes, there are some cultural differences and the people talk in a different language, but they are still people like we are. And I can't say that Americans study more, or talk louder, or are smaller than Austrians and so on. I can't say all this stuff because of one big word: individualism. One more thing I learned the past couple of months is, that culture or language doesn't define who you are. Because everyone is different, doesn't matter where he/she is from. Individualism makes unpredictable what people like, how people and what people need.
I am so thankful for all the people who have supported me through this time.
Beginning with my host family, who was there for me when I really needed them, who made me feel like a normal family member very quickly, who offered me a lot of new experiences and a great insight in their culture and in their traditions. I love every single one of them and can't even describe in words how grateful I am for everything they did for me. I really hope I get a possibility to see them again as soon as possible!
Continuing with all of the people I met, who I can proudly call my friends. All the people I met at the EF preparation camp and in Raleigh. There is a purpose for everyone I met. Some came to test me, some to teach me, some to use me and some to bring out the very best of me. The good thing is that the majority are the ones who brought out the very best of me and I am very grateful for that. Some people played a bigger role in my exchange and some people a smaller role, but every single one took part of making my experience to that what it is in the end: An unforgettable journey.
It's funny how someone, who was just a stranger last year, can mean so much to you now. It's terrible that someone who meant so much to you last year, can be just a stranger now. It's amazing what 7 months can do. But I also learned that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so be kind. Always.
Then I want to say thank you so much to my organization "EF - Education First" and all their members, who made all this possible. To the office in Vienna, the office in Boston, my IEC, my PSM and to Tanya Budler, who is leading the amazing group of people called "EF Student Ambassadors" which I'm proudly part of. We are a selected "little group" (140 ish) of exchange students in this program and have projects, where we do our best to help future exchange students and to inspire the world.
Last but not least, I want to say THANK YOU to my lovely family, who made all this possible!
THANK YOU EVERYONE, I LOVE Y'ALL! - please text me some time and let's stay in contact!!