What the last month of exchange is like

It’s not knowing how to explain what it feels like. It’s struggling with the words, the blurry ideas and the intense, contradictory emotions that overflow you when thinking you are one month away from finishing your exchange year.

How to explain this lack of air when you realize the short time that you have left? How to explain the sadness that buries your chest knowing all those goodbyes you’ll have to mutter in the next 30 days? And how to explain, that this country that used to be a dream to you is now home too? That now you are finally done building and adapting to your life here, but suddenly you already have to leave?

I barely can. And that entire dramatic paragraph is just a small part of it. Even though it isn’t completely over yet, the film of what it has been starts playing in your head, and you smile, you miss, you might even let a tear slide, and smile once again with teary eyes and a swollen heart.

Because it is also the moment when you reap what you sowed. The wonderful friendships you’ve made shine like never before, you start to really see the valuable lessons hard moments taught you, and you realize how much you’ve changed, how much you’ve grown.

Besides the emotional rollercoaster, you are in a constant frenzy to organize your last adventures. You rush from this place you haven’t yet seen or this activity you haven’t yet done; while trying to forget it might be the last time, but also being completely aware of this on purpose, to be able to appreciate every ticking, passing second like never before.

But the most beautifully painful thing? People. All these people you’ve met and learned to love. All these people… your host family, your friends, your exchange brothers and sisters. They have seen you become who you are now. They have proven to you that the thing that matters the least to form the strongest ties, is time. So you hug them a little longer, a little harder. And in each last hug, it’s like a little piece of you goes with them. And as much as it hurts, you let it go willingly.

So the next time someone half-heartedly asks me what was the last month of exchange like, I’ll just stuff that bubbling contradiction in one phrase and say: it was happy-sad.










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