1. When you live in your home country, life is good. you're busy, you're productive, you're successful by most normal standards.
and yet somehow you've always, just vaguely, wanted to know what the world is like. what things are different on the other side of the globe. what lies beyond the world you've always known.
2. a lot of people tell you life outside is dangerous. scary. life-threatening, even. they tell you they care about you and they don't want to see you fail. they tell you you are safe here, there is no reason to leave.
it scares you.
3. at the same time, you feel ridiculously cool and exciting whenever you tell someone your plans for the next year. (yay! finally! plans!)
i mean, look at how independent you are.
...most of the time.
4. as soon as that airplane door closes, you realize that you are actually really truly doing this. it is a feeling of exhilaration and terrifiedness at the same time.
but mostly terrifiedness.
5. when you first enter your host country, everything is exactly like you dreamed! it's wonderful and amazing and beautiful and AHHHHHHH. you're in heaven.
6. then, somewhere along the way, you start realizing the consequences of your decisions. your attitude changes five times approximately every two seconds. it's very dramatic.
7. you meet the rotarians. they are scary.
then you get over it and realize they've all got dreams too. language is different and culture is different, but people are simply people, all over the world.
(hooray for disney bonding time.)
8. you meet a lot of wonderful people.
you see a lot of wonderful things.
and you fall in love with this country.
9. you realize that you have been somehow preparing for this all your life -- that your study abroad has crept into all parts of your existence and permeated it with the love of the unknown, the need for adventure.
you belong where you are unsafe and uncomfortable and awkward. you have made friends and lived through disaster and grown up a little more here. you've found that you are more capable than you know.
and most importantly,
adventures still lie ahead.
a little note for context:
my host family and i were watching Tangled (in German, it's called simply "Rapunzel") one weekend, and I realized just how much it mirrored my life on exchange. enjoy!