THOUGHTS ON GOING BACK TO MAINE

DISCLAIMER: technically I am posting this on July 11th, which means that I have already been back on the American continent for 8 days. However, I was not able to publish this article before leaving as it never seemed good enough and before I knew it I was already back in Maine with no mention of it on this blog. So I will post this article, which was written on June 29th, today. In a couple of days I will write an article about the thoughts I had when I arrived back in Maine. Stay tuned.

Today is June 29th 2016, which means that exactly one year ago I woke up for the last time in my  bed in Brunswick and said goodbye to the wonderful life I led there. It is strange to think that it was one year ago: on one side it feels like it happened yesterday, on the other it feels like it happened a whole lifetime ago.

Today is June 29th 2016, which means that in exactly 4 days I will board a plane to Boston and get back to my second family. When I bought my tickets a couple of months ago it did not feel real, which is why I never actually mentioned it. I was excited about it but I did not fully realise what it meant yet, but right now the fact that I will be flying back to one of my favourite places on earth in about 96 hours is finally starting to feel real.

I do not even know where to start… I am excited, I am happy, I am scared, I am nostalgic.

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while or who knows me personally is aware of how much I loved my year in Maine: the state itself, my family, my friends, even my high school. It holds such a huge and important place in my heart that I could write an entire book about how much I absolutely loved my AFS experience and it still would not be enough. So the fact that I’m going back should just make me happy, right? Plain and simple. Unfortunately human being are not as simple as that and somehow I am actually more scared than happy.

Yes, I am scared. Why? Because over this past year the more I thought about my exchange year the more I tended to idealise it. When I talk about Maine I only talk about the good things (like when you think back on a relationship after a break-up and only seem to recall how perfect it was). Truth is, my year was not perfect. I kept a journal there and I did write more than once about how I wanted to go home, how I felt  a bit trapped at times, how I missed everything too much. I did enjoy it while it was happening and I was aware of how lucky I was to be there, but it was never actually perfect (and that was okay, nothing ever is). However, one thing that it always was, was dream-like. I talked about this in my REVERSE CULTURE SHOCK? article. My life in Maine felt like a dream because it is something that I experienced on my own, that no one here can relate to. It is strange to think that I will be going back, with my biological parents, to a life that felt like a dream.

So here’s why I am scared: what if going back doesn’t hold up to my expectations? What if I have idealised this place so much in order to hold on to a time in my life where everything felt perfect to get through the fact that this past year has been so far from it? This past year has been extremely difficult, which consequentially made me idealise Maine even more because everything there seemed so simple, I was so far away from everything that I had known and gone through (my struggle with my mental health and all my triggers back at home. As explained in my ED RECOVERY AND VEGANISM article, living in Maine for a year really did help me feel better about myself). So when I imagine myself going back, I imagine myself getting better. But what if it doesn’t work that way this time?

On the other hand: what if it does? What if I get too comfortable in that life again, just to have to leave it after only one month? This is the option that scares me the most. What if I never actually idealised it and my life there was actually as amazing as I make it seem? What if seeing everyone again, just to have to leave them again, will hurt too much? I remember that day last year way too well, I remember the pain. I have so much love for my family and friends there that leaving them felt like the worst thing that I had ever done. I want to see them so badly, but I do not want to have to go through that again.

Okay, that was a lot of “what ifs” and reading back on what I just wrote it all sounds extremely depressing. It is not though, I am just in a really strange place right now. Believe me I am happy. I am so happy to see everyone again, to sleep in my bed again, to hug my siblings, to smell the pine trees, to drink an iced mocha chai at Little Dog, all of it.

The thing is, I am feeling too much; I am both happy and sad, excited and nostalgic. I was feeling the exact same way when I left last year, the three days of travel I went through were filled with so many emotions and it was both beautiful and terrible, and that was exhausting. That is what is happening right now, I know that it is going to be difficult and I know that I will feel too much, and that is kind of scary.

Wish me luck,

Marion★

 

 

 

 

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HOW TO DEAL WITH HOMESICKNESS

Hello everyone,

Today I’m going to do something different, I’m going to try to help people instead of always talking about myself. This one is for all the exchange students out there or future exchange students. If you follow my blog, you may know that last month I briefly mentioned my homesickness. It was short and I quickly resumed to talking about what was going on in my life. At that time I didn’t really see the use of talking a lot about it, but I changed my mind. When you live far away from home or are going to, you have to accept that homesickness is going to be a part of your trip and it’s not always going to be easy. So this is for you guys, current exchange students or future ones, here’s an article about homesickness and how to deal with it (I wish I could tell you how to get over it, but I’m afraid only time can answer that question).

First things first, what is homesickness? being homesick means experiencing a longing for one’s home during an absence from it. It’s missing your home and family after being far away from it for a long time. It’s a completely normal reaction and therefore a feeling that anyone who’s ever been far away from their home for a long time has probably experienced. It’s not uncommon, it’s not unknown, it’s something we all know and can look up easily online. So why am I writing an entire article about it you may ask? Because even though it’s normal and common and all that, like all feelings related to sadness and nostalgia, it’s terribly hard to get rid of it (especially when you’re the type of person that when they’re sad, like to make themselves even sadder by listening to sad music or watching a sad movie; AKA me). but when you’re far away from your home as an exchange student it means that you’re currently going through something amazing and are really lucky to be experiencing something like that. So I think we can all agree that when we’re going through something new and exciting, we don’t want to go through it sad. That’s why it’s really important to find a way to deal with homesickness when it knocks on your door.

When you’ve recognised that the sadness you were feeling was homesickness, then you have to understand what it is you miss. A lot would answer; everything (I know, I’ve been there too) but that’s not good enough. Think about what you miss exactly because that’s the first step to making it better. Is it your family and friends? Is it the weather? The food? Or just little random things? When you’ve put a name on what’s making you sad, then you can start to find a way to make it more bearable.

Here’s a list of things that I like to do and why/how they help:

  • The first time I got really really homesick was about a month ago, what I then decided to do was to start the 100 happy days challenge but instead of posting it on social media, I’m just writing it in a journal. Also, I made it 175 happy days because when I started it I had exactly 175 days left in the US. Every day I write something that made me happy, this way I am reminded of how blessed I am to be experiencing all of this.
  • Keep yourself busy. I know, this is the most talked about and the most logical one, but it’s also the most difficult one when all you want to do is eat your belgian chocolate on your bed while watching ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. It’s hard to get out there and sometimes you just really don’t want to. But do it, you’ll thank yourself for it later. Try out for the school musical, invite friends, go places. Volunteer because you’ll definitely feel better after having helped people. Discover a new place in you area and take pictures of it. Make a video of your city, go to a coffee shop and read a book, paint, write, do something you like or try something new.
  • If you miss the weather, take a warm bath (or a cold shower I guess if you’re somewhere where it’s warm). I went for the warm bath because honestly, I’m tired of the cold. I never thought I’d miss the Belgian weather but when I wake up and have to walk to my bus stop when it’s -25°C outside, I think anyone would understand that I’d rather be in Belgium at that point. So I took a bath because I love baths and because it just feels like a warm, comfortable hug you can stay in for however long you like. Put some calm music on, light a candle, relax and let the warmth overwhelm you. Believe me, this always works.
  • If you miss the affection because you come from a place where every time you see someone you know you give them a kiss or a hug, or just the general affection you get from your close friends and family, tell someone about it. Go to a good friend and just hug them. Hug your host family, and don’t worry about it, we’re all human, nobody is going to think you’re weird. You could also buy a stuffed animal.  I bought a really soft little stuffed moose. When I can’t fall asleep or get too caught up in my thoughts of missing home, I hug it and fall asleep like that. Never underestimate the power of hugging a stuffed animal, no matter how weird that sounded.
  • If you miss your friends or family, Skype with them. But be careful with that because sometimes it can make it worse. Do it in moderation because don’t forget that you also have friends and family where you are now. What can also help is to make plans for when you get back. Organise a trip with your best friend, start thinking about that big party you’re going to throw when you get back, but again, be careful with that.
  • If you miss the food, ask your parents to send you a package with some things. This is hard if you’re missing an entire meal but even little things can already make it better. I always ask my parents to send me chocolate or biscuits, and when I get them I always feel a little bit better.
  • Now don’t hate me for this one, but exercise and stay healthy. Go for a run, drink lots of water and eat lots of fruit, go to the gym or your school’s weight room and just work out. Believe me I used to hate all these things, but gosh do they help. I’m in a fitness class at school and work out every other day. I can tell you that when I get home after that and lay in my bed, it’s the best feeling ever.  This is great for two reasons; it’s a great way to keep your mind of things and being healthy just makes you feel better. Always remember to take care of yourself.
  • If you miss the language, there are multiple things you can do. You could Skype, but like I already said be careful with that. You could watch a movie in your native language, but choose a good one. Don’t watch ‘Les Intouchables’ or ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ when you miss french because that’s just going to make you sadder and that’s not what we’re trying to accomplish here. What I found that always helps is stand up comedy. Your country is probably the home of some good stand up comedians, so look them up if you don’t already have a favorite, and just watch their entire show. For me it was Gad Elmaleh for the french and Alex Agnew for the dutch.
  • Talk to someone about it. Wether it’d be your host family, your host siblings, your friends or other exchange students, talking about it always help.

So these are the things I do when I get homesick or just a little bit sad in general. The list could be longer, but this article is already getting way too long. So to finish this, here are a few things you should remember;

  1. everyone is different, what works for me might not work for you. Try things our or find your own remedy.
  2. sometimes it’s okay to just be sad, as long as you don’t let it overwhelm you. You’re far from home, you miss everything, and that’s okay. You’re sad, so be sad. Accept it, welcome it and understand it because that’s the first step to letting it go. You can watch a sad movie, you can listen to sad music as long as you don’t keep it up for days or even weeks. Remember to live too. Be sad for a bit, and then get up and get out there and be happy again.
  3. nothing is temporary. This sadness will not last forever and sadly, your trip won’t either. You’ll get back to your home sooner than you think, which is the good news and the bad news.

Hope you liked this and if you’re an exchange student as well, I’d love to hear about the things that you do to battle homesickness, just comment below.

BYEEEEE

Cherie★

NEW HAMPSHIRE

On Columbus day weekend, which was a four day weekend, my host family and I went to New Hampshire. They own a cabin by a lake that’s a two hour drive.

Even though the weather wasn’t that perfect at all times, it was such a beautiful place and I really enjoyed spending the weekend there with my family. On saturday we went apple picking, on sunday we went sailing and kayaking and on monday I went kayaking as well but on my own. The scenery was so beautiful and sitting there on this lake was so calming. I loved it!

I filmed most of the trip, which consequentially means that I did not take many pictures. But I think this one is enough to show you how beautiful it was. IMG_0421

While being there I also tasted pumpkin cookies and a pumpkin spice ice cream. So, what is up with all these pumpkin flavoured things? Not that I mind it but wow welcome to fall in New England I guess.

BYEEEEE

Cherie★

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL

As promised, here’s an article about the school.

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Brunswick High School is the school that I am attending this year. Compared to my school in Belgium, this one is really big and has a lot more students. So if you were wondering; yes, I did get lost the first few days.

There’s a theatre, a gymnasium, a tennis court, a football field, a track field, a soccer field,… Well, pretty much everything that American schools have these days, and that Belgian schools do not.

As I already graduated in Belgium and don’t have to worry about grades or credits, I have a pretty nice schedule. There are orange days and black days, but let’s not get into that. Here are my classes:

  • US History
  • English
  • Sociology
  • Theatre arts
  • Broadcast and journalism
  • Creative writing
  • Intro to film

Next semester I will also have:

  • Beginners guitar
  • Intro to psychology
  • Intro to fitness

Nice huh? We don’t have that many options for classes in Belgium, so this is really cool. I don’t do any after school activities yet, but I’m going to try out for cheering in the winter and track in the spring. Yay!

As for making friends, I’m not going to lie; the first couple of days were extremely lonely. But people here are really nice and every day it got a little bit better and a little bit easier. I like it here, and I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks are going to bring.

Also, on friday I went to my first football game in Augusta, the capital of Maine. I didn’t understand anything about the game and I was freezing my butt off but all in all, I had a great time.

(You can click on the pictures to enlarge them. They’re blurry but whatevs.)

BYEEEEE

Cherie★

DISSAPOINTMENT

Hello everyone,

A few days ago I learned that I was going to leave in september instead of august as I still don’t have a host family. It didn’t bother me that much at first, I mean as long as I have a good family -when I get one that is- everything would be okay, right? It doesn’t matter when you leave exactly, it’s still going to be the same experience and it’s still going to be amazing.

But as the days went by and as I realized more and more what that meant it actually made me feel really angry and dissapointed and also maybe a little bit disgusted and so many other feelings and it is really not okay.

There was also this other girl from Belgium who still didn’t have a family and it comforted me that I wasn’t the only one and that we were going to leave in september together but guess what? Three days ago when I received an e-mail telling me that my departure date was moved to the 8th of september, she received an e-mail telling her that they had found her a family.
I’m happy for her, I truly am.
But now I’m alone.

I know, I know I get one more month with my family and friends here so yeah that’s cool, but it also means that I get one less month in the US which sucks and I actually really wanted to leave now. I’ve been waiting for this my whole life (literally, this isn’t even an exageration) and it was finally here, and now it isn’t anymore.

I know I shouldn’t be this mad, but I actually really am and it sucks.

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INTRODUCTION

Hi everyone!

My name is Marion but you can call me Cherie, I am 17 years old (24.06.1996) and I live in Belgium.

I made this blog because in a few months -3 to be exact- I will be leaving for the United States of America where I will spend 10 months as an exchange student, yay! Don’t ask me where though, I’m still waiting for my host family Aaaaaah so excited!

So as you may have guessed, the main reason why I made this blog is to share my experience. Because you know, this is 2014 and everything we do has to be talked about online (just kidding).

ANYWAYS

On here you will find i.a. pictures, advice, fun facts about the cultural differences,… You know, stuff like that.

I hope that you will like it and I hope that sharing my experience is going to be interesting and maybe even helpfull for other exchange students or future exchange students (probably not but I can dream, Harold! If you understand this reference you understand my life)

BYEEEEE

Cherie

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