After reading the tittle, you probably are picturing me hugging some furniture from my host family’s house, others trying to drag me down to the airport. Well, no. With tears in my eyes I tell you: I am leaving France. I am leaving behind l’Ardèche, the place that saw me become the person I am today, I am leaving a family, I am leaving friends that go as deep as brothers and sisters, I am leaving the life that took me so much work to build. I am leaving my exchange year behind.
But I’m not leaving you. Yes I mean you, dear reader. I’m staying here in this blog, still pouring my thoughts and experiences into it. So please don’t leave me.
Even though we can technically say my exchange year is over, that is not completely true. Exchange doesn’t end the day you leave your host country. Exchange is a series of experiences, memories and lessons that go with you for the rest of your life. Experiences and memories that change forever the way you view the world around you. That change the way you behave in it. I would even say that exchange is a shifting experience, one you keep on living back home and from which you keep on learning even if it’s officially” over; some lessons you can only understand afterwards, with some time and perspective once back home.
Besides, maybe even more than ever, I will need this way of catharsis, of expressing and sharing with those who are curious, or search to understand, or those who are living something similar. I’m going back home, and I couldn’t be happier about being with my family and friends again, eating chipa*, mbeju*, sweating crazily in parties while screaming to latino music, having some terere*. But as I’ve said … Exchange changes the way you see and behave in the world around you. It changes you. And yes, the places, routines and things will mostly be the same, but what about the people? A year has gone by without you; and your family, friends and classmates have changed… or maybe they haven’t, not that much. But YOU have, so much. How you will fit back in? Will it all just suddenly and unexpectedly come to place? Or will it all fall apart? What used to be normal life there, seem like distant memories; have you unlearned everything that used to be so usual?
Questions, questions, questions … I still have to answer them all, and that’s why I’m not leaving. Besides, did you honestly think this restless lil adventurer doesn’t have any other trips planned? Pfff.
There are many stories left to tell. ‘Til next time.
***typical Paraguayan foods and beverage