Before I left on my exchange previous exchange students, and people who where involved in the program kept telling me how much this single year would change me. They mentioned how I would discover myself, become more independent and most of all how much I would mature. I remember my Grandpa saying to me “every one year of exchange, is like maturing five years in one”. So by his count, I guess I am almost twenty-two years old (if you are reading this Kendra, we are basically the same age now). I was forewarned that when I returned my family may struggle to understand me, and I would most likely return to the loosing a majority of my friends. I understood I would change, but I didn't understand that my reasoning for going on exchange would change with that. Pre exchange I was not actually fully aware of why I had this strange desire to leave my entire life behind and start new. I didn't know myself as well as I really thought I did.
For those of you who know me, you know that I love to ware myself thin, and that I struggle to say no to things. You know that I live this hectic life attempting to split myself between school, leadership, theatre, dance, family, a boyfriend, all well attempting to maintain a social life. You people who know this are probably thinking ‘Jenna, are you insane? You were a walking disaster because of this. How on earth could you miss stress’. I am not insane, but other then that you are right. I was a stressed mess. I procrastinated, I cried, I complained, I got angry and I even shut down at times. But the truth is I was actually really grateful to have all of these things in my life. I was not homesick for stress, but I was homesick for being busy. I was home sick for being kept on my toes, I was homesick for busy weeknights, and packed full weekends. I was home sick for having a project to focus on, I was homesick for having a routine to perfect and I was home sick for working hard. Today I even got home sick when I saw a picture of dancers from my studio reading ‘early morning practices’, WHAT!! Me homesick of early morning practices. But honestly, it doesn’t matter how much I complained, because deep down inside I was actually happy to be doing this stuff. I guess being away from it all really made me realize my hunger for learning, keeping busy, and pushing myself to my limits.
So there you have it. I have officially found the reason that I was crazy enough to leave my life, friends, and family behind. I also found the reason why I got myself involved in so many things. I enjoy pushing myself as hard as I can because I know as long as I am trying my hardest in the end I will be happy with my results. I like to keep busy. I like to learn, and I love having a project to work on. For all those people who questioned my choices to jam pack my schedule, you now have an answer and to answer those who asked me why I wanted to go on exchange, the answer is simple. I enjoy pushing myself into uncomfortable situations, I like to work hard and I like to push my own limits.