Six months over. Six months rich with a lifetime of new experiences, six months wearing all of the inconsolable pain and unimaginable joy that I alone may have have been able to carry. Half of a year in a foreign land, the adventure of a lifetime seemingly contained within the time between the rising and falling of the moon. No matter how hard I try, I can't shake the fear that my carefully executed dream will end when I wake up.
It racks my brain at every occasion to sit down and write these monthly reports. How could I possibly express all of the feelings and impressions that I have absorbed within the past months so that you, the reader, might take something meaningful out of it? In all honesty, I'm being too polite. I find it difficult to sit down and write these reports because I must then sift through every memorable moment and decide what is worth sharing. To do this, I need to organize my thoughts, and the reality is that I've long lived in a well- adapted chaos in which moments are specks of life on a greater painting and I, the artist, am too high on the experience to pause to consider my work. Not because I don't want to sit still and reflect, but because I don't know how. Organization requires vision, and I enjoy painting in the dark.
I suppose I could share the anecdote about the compliment my host mother gave to me. You should understand, the relationship I have with my host mother is one of which I am very proud; she is distinctly honest with me, and I with her. Therefore, I have come to accept her words as being true, which is indeed a very rare thing. At any rate, early afternoon on a typical day out on the Swiss ski slopes, my host mother and I were riding a ski lift together up the mountain. During this ride, I began to once again talk about the uncertainty that awaits me when I return from my exchange. I have absolutely no idea what I want to focus on career-wise, and have to idea as to the direction in which I want to take my studies at university.
This conversation topic often comes up by itself, likely motivated by an unconscious terror that lays dormant until it takes its chance to strike and cry out for help. So my host mother listened to my plea for guidance, and accordingly responded. Simply and assertively, she told me that I had nothing to worry about. Not because I possessed some untapped skill set, not because passing of time possessed the solution to all of my problems, but because I was motivated. She noted what she had seen as we were skiing the past week: how I relentlessly followed them on every black-diamond trail they took me on, how I fumbled and fell down the slopes at the beginning, and how well I ski now. She told me that my motivation to continue and my attitude to face each new challenge without hesitance would enable success in whatever I choose to do.
Although such compliments usually make me feel uncomfortable, I felt oddly reassured by her sincerity. I decided to take her words and run with them. I shall also share the experience of my participation in the school's Jazz Band. The experience itself was extraordinary, but the most meaningful aspect of being in this band was not the music nor the performance. Rather, having the chance to befriend and develop relationships with locals was quintessential to integrating into the school and class environment, and to losing the feeling that I am a foreigner. I've met some of my best Swiss friends through this group: namely my best Swiss friend, a fellow trumpeter with whom I often shared music because I had left mine at home. Because of his friendship, I was able to gain the confidence to use the language (key point: Swiss German is not High German!) and actively engage others in conversation. I never thought myself to be a particularly social person; actually,
three months ago I would have told you the opposite. However, I seem to consistently find myself in the situation in which every Friday and Saturday is booked out, and I am meeting often with classmates outside of school.
In all, I am immensely grateful for the irreplaceable opportunity that Rotary Youth Exchange has given me. As I continue to gain from the social and emotional growth and never-ending adventure that is Exchange, I hope to be able to give back to the people and friends who have already invested so much in me.
Bis bald!