This time exactly 6 months ago, I was waking up in a hotel room, and piling my things into my suitcase for the last time before I set off on a long trip to “the other side of the world”, as it has become lovingly known.
Six months has gone fast. Really fast. The prospect of spending a year away from ‘home’ was daunting and it seemed like such a long time, but now that I look back at it, I can’t imagine it going any faster.
When I arrived in August, it was the end of summer. The days were warm and spent outside at the playground; the nights were cool, but not cold. Thoughts of snow and winter were not on my mind at all. I made a handful of friends, travelled to Nashville to see Taylor Swift, and to Western Mass and CT to see Hanson. My birthday passed, and I celebrated it for a whole weekend, not having time for many tears. I celebrated Thanksgiving, and spent a weekend in New York City with friends. Before I knew it, it was Christmas, and I was wondering where the ‘last 4 months’ had gone. I spent a week in Florida, and came back to a cold, but snow-less Boston.
My fears of a long cold winter haven’t been confirmed – we’ve only had 3 days when we’ve had to shovel our driveway of snow – and one of them was all the way back in October! There have still been some cold days, but the ability to still get out and about without snow everywhere has been great – and even though a bright blue sky is deceiving and usually means it’s below freezing outside, the general mood seems a lot better when the sun is out, as opposed to a miserable grey snowy day! We’ve had enough snow that I’ve been able to get outside and play with the kids, build a snowman, take a walk in the snow, shovel the driveway and make snowballs – but not enough to make me miss summer at home too much. I took my first class for my educational credits in January, and finished it off with a fun weekend trip to Quebec City in Canada.
I’ve kept my group of friends to just a handful, spending most of my time with Maria and Christina. Unfortunately just last month Christina was having some problems with her host family, and ended up rematching with a family in New Jersey. After being pretty much constant companions, I feel a little lost without her, and our group of 3 is now just a pair, and as much as I love Maria, there aren’t as many laughs or jokes.
I have the best host family I could ask for, and then more. I joke with my host mom that if I wanted to go home, I would have no reason to complain about them. They have made me feel so welcome in their house, and we all work really well as a team. Even though I am here to help them manage their time, they often go out of their way to make sure that I am able to do things that I want to do, even if it means one of them going into work early so someone can come home early to cover me. I am so grateful for little things like this, and like I said, could honestly not ask for a better host family. They may not live in the biggest house, or take expensive vacations, but they genuinely care about me and treat me like a special part of their family, and really, what more do you want?
Looking forward to the next 6 months, I have more things planned. I’m going to more concerts this week. I’m going to New York City for 2 days next weekend. I’m going with my host mom and the kids to my very first ever Disney on Ice on Presidents Day! I’ll be back in NYC in April, to catch up with some friends, and I’m finally going to visit Tulsa, Oklahoma (hometown of Hanson) in May. A summer trip with the kids to their grandparents place in North Carolina is in the works for June. I still have to take another ‘class’ to finish my educational component, and Semester 1 of uni starts at the end of February and goes through until June. And then, before I know it, I’ll be thinking about which of the 14 hoodies I have acquired since arriving in August that I should donate to goodwill, so that I can actually zip my suitcases shut to fly home.
I like to feel like I’ve had a great 6 months. I’ve taken some trips, and done some great things. I’ve enjoyed my time with the kids, done fun things with them, and taught them things. I’ve been homesick, sure, but at no point have I actually seriously considered getting on a plane to go home. I want to make the most of the time I have here. There are still so many things that I want to do and see, and most of all, I want to make the people who believed in me, supported me, and put themselves out so that I can be here proud.
So with 6 months behind me, it’s now time to look forward to the Spring and Summer months before me, and enjoy the next 6 months.