Exchange is not just a year in life; it is a life in a year

Emilie Windelin, Staff Reporter


As the school year is heading towards the end, so is my year as a foreign exchange student. I have had some of the best experiences of my life here, and the thought of leaving is even more terrifying than leaving my home country, Denmark, ever was. Coming to the United States is without a doubt the best decision I have ever made.

Now that it is almost over, I think back to the day it all started. It is hard to explain the feeling I had when I sat on the plane about nine months ago. On one hand, I could not contain my excitement, because I have been dreaming of this experience for years. On the other hand, it is insane how much you can miss something you just saw a few hours ago. The thought of not being able to see my friends and family for ten months, while being in a completely foreign country, was terrifying. However, the key is to shut it all out and focus on the goal: to have the best year of my life.

When I look back today, I am happy to see that I have experienced everything I wanted to and overcame every obstacle I met. Obviously, there have been good and bad days, and times where everything just became too much. However, I could not be more proud of everything I have accomplished, having an incredible year being one aspect. In the beginning of the year, I felt the cultural differences between the US and Denmark every day, but as time went by, the differences became less and less noticeable to me. I know I have changed over the months, and I wonder how it is going to feel to be

Among my old friends and family in Denmark. The thought of going home scares me, and I do not know how am ever going to say goodbye to everything I have here.

I wish I could bring things like football games, spirit week, Thanksgiving, and prom with me back to my country. However, the fact that I cannot just makes the memories even more special. One thing I will miss a lot is the American “school spirit.” It is far from anything I know from home, and it has been so much fun to be a part of. For example, going to a football game and seeing everyone in their school shirts and painted faces is something I had never experienced before I came here. To see how almost the entire school participated in supporting the team was incredible to me, and I had a lot of fun. Another special thing was prom. All my life I have seen stuff about high school prom on TV, but I never thought I would be able to experience it myself. I have never felt as American as I did that night, and it is definitely something I will remember forever.

Holidays are times you should spend with family and loved ones, and it was definitely something I feared would be hard while being here. I especially expected Christmas time to be tough without my own family, not only because there is so many unique family traditions combined with this holiday, but also because my birthday is in December. However, my Christmas turned out to be one of the best I have ever had. It was so interesting to see, up close, how the same holiday is celebrated in different cultures. Speaking of holidays, we cannot forget Thanksgiving. Even though, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Denmark, I intend to keep the holiday alive in my family at home. Being thankful for what you have, and showing that appreciation, is something I have learned the true meaning of while being abroad.

As an exchange student, I have been asked a number of interesting questions about my home. I have heard anything from, if we have TVs in Denmark and if we live in caves, to if we celebrate 4th of July or have wild polar bears walking around the streets. Nevertheless, the most popular question has been if I prefer the United States over Denmark, and the truth is I could never possibly choose. I have the most amazing family and friends here in The States, but I have the same thing waiting for me back in my country. Even though, I am excited to go home and see everyone I have missed so much, the thought of leaving Michigan breaks my heart. I love this place, and every single person I have met here.

In the end, I would like to say thank you so much to my host family, for taking me in and being the best family I could possibly wish for. Thank you to my best friends, Kayla, Juli and Rayeanne for always being there for me. I have had some of the best times with you guys, and I do not know where I would be today without you. Last, but not least, thank you to my cross country team, my track team, my newspaper class, and all the other students, teachers and staff at RHS that have been part of making this year the best year of my life. There is no way I could ever show how grateful I am for everything I have experienced this year. This is my final story, my final deadline and my final goodbye. I will miss you all so much, and I hope we can stay in touch. Goodbye, Roseville, take care.