1. How alone you can be! I definitely wish I knew how alone you can feel at times, especially in the beginning. I remember the first weeks when everything was completely new - a new country, new routines, no friends, new culture and sometimes you didn't even understand how to do the easiest of things! I am so thankful for that I had such an welcoming and friendly family which made things easier.
- I especially remember one time at the DMV (where you get your American drivers license) where I ended up crying in my car of frustration with a security guard trying to make me feel better. I stood in line for hours only to get to the front desk to show all of my papers and got told that I needed another important document. I went back home, picked up the paper, went back to the hours of waiting in line to get to the front desk to hear that I didn't have enough proof of adress. So there I went back home to pick up a letter from my American bank to show which I later, after standing in this line again, got to know wasn't enough either. I went back to my car, crying because of how bad costumer service and information I got and for how hard everything felt at that time. A security guard saw me leaving and came up to me and told me the kindest of words, helped me with how I would get the last piece of paper and what to do next! By the time I got my statement the DMV had already closed for the day and I ended up going to the same place six (!) times before even getting to do my tests. I definitely felt so lonely and lost at that time!
2. How much I'd miss the Swedish food! I knew that I would miss my favourite meals, the chocolate and the special things. But I didn't know how much I'd miss the normal food, the little things that you don't even appreciate when you have it. Some days I could get crazy cravings for things I don't even like that much. I tried to make my favourite things a couple of times but it was never the same!
3. How hard it is to make new friends! I have never in my life had a hard time to make new friends and create new relationships - but moving abroad have taught me that it isn't as simple when you are not in school, have jobs with co-workers or things where you easily interact with people who share something with you. I am thankful for that my Au pair program organised monthly meetings where all the au pairs in the area met up - it made it easier and especially since everyone were in the same situation. It all comes together sooner or later - you just have to make sure to do something about your situation and be patient!
4. I wish I knew about the cultural differences I would face and the cultural chocks that would hit me! I knew that things would be different but some things are just too different and new and I wish I would have been more prepared for those things. For example how you get treated, how people interact with you and what is ok in other countries that is not where I am from. I have learned a lot from those cultural differences - some that I wish to bring back to my own culture and some that I am glad I grew up without!
5. How much I am capable of and how much I'd grow! I changed so much during my time abroad - and still am! Leaving your safe spot and comfort zone really pushes you to grow. It made me so much more independent, so much braver and made me realise that I can do whatever I set my mind to. Constantly face new things and having to settle into a new place makes you learn so many new things about yourself - and it is so important!
6. How hard it would be to leave! I knew that it would be hard to leave after spending such a long time at one place - but never could I ever imagine how hard it would be! I loved every single bit of my life abroad (and still do!) and leaving everything behind was really hard on me. Friends that became your everything, the host-family who became a second family, your favourite spots, your everyday life, your routines, the place that became your home away from home. I know that is sounds very cliché and surreal but leaving my life abroad was one of the hardest things I have ever done!