Hannah verbrachte das Schuljahr 2009/10 an der St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, USA.
When I first heard that I should go to America and stay there ten months, I was not only very excited, but also really scared. Ten months without my family, without my friends that I love and all my other daily life activities?
I could not imagine how this choice should become an experience that I will never regret. So I decided to go, and this decision changed my life.
Of course in the beginning not everything is easy, different daily grind, different way of thinking, new people, new place, new food and a new language. You might get homesick a little bit, but you soon realize that there is no reason for being homesick because everyone is friendly to you and you meet new people almost every day.
These people help you get through your daily life more easily and you soon feel like you have lived in that school for years. After the first few weeks of hardship the days just fly by, school is getting more comfortable, the sports season changes and the first break will come. You will go to some friend’s house or with your friends on a school trip.
And sooner as you can blink with your eyelids, you might fly home for the Christmas break or stay at a friend’s house and celebrate American Christmas. There you start realizing, it’s halftime!! Even though, you are friends now with a lot of people and you have practically something to talk about with almost everybody from the dorm and the entire school.
You become closer friends with only some people and you figure out the ’’real’’ friends. These ’’real’’ friends are really important because they share not only something with you, but they share everything with you - your fears, your hopes and wishes, your anger and your love. You and your friends are having a really good time. You join in a sport together, have a lot of sleepovers, go on weekends to the movies or participate in school activities and various different trips. You get really close and a friendship that lasts for a really long time might develop. But besides all that happiness and amusement, the snow starts to melt, it starts to rain, then the sun comes out more often, it gets warmer ever day, and the grass starts growing and becomes green again.
The spring is already here and you do not know how time could have passed by so quickly. Teachers have become really good people to talk to, some teachers have also become your friends and you are doing great at school.
All the seniors are starting to receive the college acceptances and are planning on which school they will go to next year. You also start thinking about your next school year, about you being back in Germany and you do not know what to do. You definitely miss your friends and your whole family, but you have also met so many different people, gotten to know so many new and different cultures that you feel that you have changed. You get sad while you think about all that because you realize that the time is going by so fast and that you cannot do anything about it. You want to have more time with your friends when you know that there are maybe only 8 weeks left until the end of school, and until you will see a lot of these people for the only and last time in your life. But the school life goes on, dorm dinner, last dorm chapel... There is no week left that goes by normally, there is always something like a big talk, a shorter school day because of some teachers’ conference or some special day like dress down day…and you wish that everything would stay normal only so that time wouldn’t go by as fast as it is going.
Then everybody gets prepared for the final exams, some for the AP and some just for the normal ones, the yearbook comes out, you get asked out for prom and you start planning to visit your Korean friend next summer and your Spanish friend over the fall break.
Before that you have written a little note in everyone’s yearbook, your exams are over and you are dressing up and making yourself pretty for the prom. The prom - the last night where everybody is together before everyone leaves in a different direction on a different route to a different life. You are enjoying the last moments that you have with all the people who seemed so foreign to you at the beginning of this year. But then also the prom is over and the first tears are rolling down people’s cheeks.
It’s time and you have to say goodbye, not only to your friends, but also to the teachers and dorm proctors that have become a kind of parent during your stay abroad.
The saddest thing is that you have met these incredible people over such a short time period, and that they have become so important to you, but that you already have to leave again. Now your yearbook is full and you have said goodbye to all your friends. It is hard to leave but you have great memories that no one will take away and you can keep forever. And even though it seems you will not see them ever again, you always meet twice in life!
While you are flying back to Germany, you start thinking about how the people back home and everything else have changed. You get back and the first thing that happens is your friends throw a surprise party for you.
You are super happy and very thankful to have these nice and great friends that are still the same as they were before you left.
But the next three months back home are not easy. You are back home and happy to be with your parents and your little brother. But it is not always easy to get along with them as if nothing happened - after all, you were gone for 10 months.
And then getting back into school is probably the hardest thing. The relationship between the teachers and the students is completely different than in America. The teachers in Germany only see you as the normal student that does not want to go to school and study. They often do not respect you and see themselves as the person with more power and intelligence. The German teachers do not help you in subjects like math where you could need some extra help. They expect you do to it on your own and if you fail, then you fail. In America the teachers trust you and actually want to be your friend and help you to become better in school. They will spend hours and hours helping you to understand a math problem because they care. This huge difference shocked me probably the most. And besides all that, you also notice that some of your friends have changed, or actually have not changed and it is only you that has changed. This is of course an aspect that is not really joyful and it takes a while until you realize that friendships break up and change sometimes. But then you may not believe it, you start to meet people who you thought about differently before you went to America and you become friends with them. Another thing that you do not have to forget about is that you have now a lot of friends all over the world. Of course are you not able to continue all of these friendships, but some of them remain established and through all these new, modern ways that the 21th century gives us (Facebook, phone, email, Skype…) is it not even too hard to do so. Often it helps to catch up with them and to talk to them about the people back home and even though they do not know them they know the situation because they have similar problems back at their home.
And then also in Germany school is going on and your daily life just starts from the beginning and you see everything through different eyes and sometimes with different opinions than you did before.