I haven't written in a month. Oops. I couldn't have ever predicted that happening at the beginning of this year when every week had tons of new discoveries to share with my commentary to accompany them. But now I stand on the other side of the adventure which was my spring traveling spree. I even had two paragraphs written before I left for Denmark and Sweden but just got distracted and never finished. I've never dreaded writing a blog post like I am this one because I have no clue what to say anymore or maybe I just don't want to say what I need to...either way I'll include what I wrote about 10 days ago.
"27 days. Less than a month. Less than 4 weeks. Then it's done. Recently my emotions ride up and down like a roller coaster. Did I wish this year away? Who knows. But now I see it so differently, maybe only because I now sit on the other side. If you look at it reversely, when I was 27 days in, it was September 17th. On that very day I wrote a blog about how difficult Dutch was and how boring it was having no friends. Dutch is still difficult, but I have a grip on it. And friends? Luckily, they're great. After an amazing week in Rome with school I feel closer than ever with my friends and feel a little tinge inside me everytime I say goodbye to them now, knowing that there won't be many more moments like this - casually taking off by bike to return home as if nothing is ending. But for me it is, it rapidly is. I am beginning to realize the state I will be in when I leave this country - it is colloquially know as the "hot mess." There is something about this incomplete, random life here that has grown on me. I'm more accustomed to life here than I would've been able to predict on September 17th. To the point where I went from 6 entries that month to ONE in April!! Shows how busy I was.
2 weekends after my parents left AFS got most of together once again, this time to visit Antwerpen, a large city in the Flemish part of Belgium fairly close to me here in Eindhoven. The weekend was of course filled with good laughs and a lot of reconnecting, after the long winter and thaw out which followed where we each seemed to proceed with our own adopted lives. For me I am sure there were some people I will not see again during my time in the Netherlands and therefore, possibly never again. This is the constant struggle of AFS. You make the connections of a lifetime, but they are so captured within this measureable amount of time, any further is uncertain. I believe it is therefore the responsibility of every AFSer to continue with their exchange without inhibitions and walk forward into life at peace with the way their year went."
To add to my Antwerp and Rome exhaustion I just got back from Copenhagen and Stockholm with Zudik (Costa Rica) and Rafael (Venz). Unlike the two previous trips I had taken this one came with very few strings attached. We knew where we were sleeping and when we had to catch our trains. That's it. Besides that we winged it, did boat tours in both cities, shopped, and generally explored. I had more typical "eurotrip" moments than I probably have all year - 15 hour train ride in a compartment with a German, Costa Rican, Venezuelan, and Frenchman? Little awkward. Our hostel in Stockholm was amazing and our hosts in Copenhagen were just as accomodating. While this period of travel has been more than exciting for me, I'm happy it's settling down. In 3 days my host parents have kindly allowed me to throw a going away party at my house here in Eindhoven so that I can say goodbye to all the AFSers I have grown to love this year. I will still have two weeks after to spend with my host family and Dutch friends which will, no doubt, fly by.
As I stated earlier in this post, I have no idea what to write. Chances are this is my second to last blog entry while in the Netherlands, and it scares me. In 18 days I will be flying back home to Shaker Heights, Ohio, the city which holds the friends, family, and places I have longed to see for the past 8 1/2 months. Now it's here and I cannot fathom the idea of leaving here even though this time, the end of May, has been the end all along. My life currently holds little semblance to the life I had in September or even January. My relationships have changed - between exchange friends, Dutch friends, and most importantly, the everpresent host family. I have begun to see myself in a very different manner this year; I take myself more seriously and know that I have what it takes to go through some of the more unpleasant moments in life what can appear to be solo.
I'm going to terribly miss a lot more than I had ever expected: first and foremost I don't know what I'm going with a life without clay red bikepaths conviniently placed along every road. Lord knows how I'll manage when my life actually begins to run on a daily schedule. I'll miss speaking Dutch, being foreign, and sometimes being the one who can just pretend to not understand what is happening. But at the same time home is something I've pictures for months now - I'm not sure I could go without it either! I understand this was a lame excuse for an entry but I try at least. I'm going to make the best effort I can to get at least one more in here before I return home (sounds unbelieveably strange writing that sentence out, but alas it's true!).