I am currently in Duluth, Minnesota, having a great time with my second family.
Two years ago I came to Duluth feeling homesick and uncertain about my exchange year. In the beginning it was a real challenge without any friends and with people, who were incredibly kind but also unknown. My year abroad was one of the best years of my life, however, I am skeptical about all exchange students, who eagerly describe it as the best year of their life.
Going abroad is not a piece of cake. It is hard. I shed countless tears throughout it. I felt lonely a lot. I was often disappointed, because I had expected things to go a certain way and they did not.
Nevertheless, no year of my life has coined and affected me more than my time abroad in Duluth.
This summer I returned to the same place I came to three years ago. I was greeted by four people that have turned into my second family, who I love dearly and with whom I am absolutely comfortable. We have inside jokes, deep conversations, and lots of good laughs, because three years ago I decided to adjust myself to the way they roll.
I also got to meet up with many more people than I had expected to see. Friends, which I made all by myself. They are are of a different stamp than me, but I’ve come to love them for it. I am now made of a different stamp, too, I guess. Something inbetween.
When I now come to Minnesota, it feels like home. Home 2.0 far across the globe. People here are different, the lands are much emptier, the milk bottles a lot bigger, and all of it is my home.
I now wish I could go back to that timid girl on August 30, 2013, and tell her that everything will be alright. All shall be well.
Going abroad is hard. It is always worth it, though. Every moment of homesickness made me appreciate Switzerland more, every moment of joy made me fall more deeply in love with Duluth.
I did not only make it through 9.5 months: I built a second life for myself and if I can do it all by myself during the coldest winter in 120 years, I can do it anywhere.