So I guess it’s about time I summed up my year and said my goodbyes to Belmont and St Marys. I’ve spent nine months in West Virginia, and I can honestly say I don’t have a single regret. I mean, why should I, considering the fact that I’ve done everything I possibly could, and more. I have learned how to play American Football (or at least I can pretend like I know), and put my new skills to use on the field in the powderpuff game. I have been on the yearbook crew, which taught me a lot about design and layouts, and it also gave me an opportunity to grow as a person. Before I had yearbook I was really shy about taking pictures of people, but I quickly learned that people usually don’t mind it. At least I know that West Virginians don’t, I still have to figure out if it’s the same in Stockholm.
Another thing I’ve developed a lot during the year is my faith. I know I haven’t talked a whole lot about it with everyone back in Sweden, but here in Pleasants County I’ve been more than willing to share it. The reason I haven’t talked a lot about it with my Swedes is the fact that I don’t want them to get the wrong idea, which can happen pretty easily when you just write it down. Therefore I’m not going to write more about this right now, but I hope to show and tell people how I’ve changed in my beliefs once I’m back.
One of the most fun things I did during my year was to participate in the West Virginia All-State Chorus. It started out in November with practices after school, and in February we (meaning me and the other girls and boys from the Vocal Ensemble doing the same thing) went to auditions. Thanks to all the practicing, we all made it and got to go to Charleston, the capital of West Virginia in order to be a part of a 200 people chorus. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot. The choir director, Cheryl West, shared a poem with us that I really liked called The Dash, and you can read it here.
The thing I spent the most time on, except for maybe going to church, was track practices and meets. Every afternoon from mid March until mid May I spent outside with my fellow throwing buddies no matter the weather. In the beginning of the season, at my first meet, I threw the shot put about 19 feet; by the end of the season my personal record was 28 feet and 6 inches. I also threw the discus, and even though I improved tremendously in that as well (I went from 40 some feet to 73 something) I didn’t quite like it as much. I also spent a lot of time at the track meets taking pictures of my team members, and I think I got better at that too as the season flew by.
When it came to school, I was pretty good. I did better in some classes, struggled more in others but all in all I learned a lot. I guess I enjoyed some privileges as an exchange student, especially in Spanish class, but I can honestly say that it didn’t change my view on the school work that much (I still progressively stopped doing my homework on time, just as I do in Sweden, haha ;) ). It took me a while to tell who my real friends were, but once I got that figured out I relaxed a lot more as I no longer had to wonder at which desk or lunch table I would sit.
I went on two longer trips during my year; one to Cedar Point and Niagara Falls in October, and one to Washington D.C. in April. Both of the trips were amazing, and I’m so grateful I got to go on both of them! I made friends on both trips, however during the D.C. trip I was more confident and outgoing as I’d grown comfortable to being in America, which I think made a huge difference and to be honest I had more fun during that trip than I did going to Niagara Falls. That is only depending on my own attitude though, so to the people I went to Cedar Point and Niagara Falls with; you’re awesome too!
These last couple of weeks has been wonderful, even though I’ve had to say goodbye to a whole bunch of people I’m not quite ready to leave behind. My last day of school was bittersweet, but I’m so immensely thankful I got to spend nine months there! I have so many people to thank for making my year such a great one, but I’m afraid I’ll miss someone so I’m not going to mention any names. I do however want to thank my American family for taking me in so wholeheartedly; I can’t find the words to describe how thankful I am towards you guys. Cris, Jon and Kendra; it has been a privilege to stay with you, and I’m so glad God decided to send me to you and that you all made me part of the family! Sean, Heather, Zach, Zoe, Addie and Liam; thank you all for being part of my extended family! I know I will see all of you again someday in the relatively near future, and I really look forward to it!
I’m going to miss everyone here so incredibly much, and I can’t wait to come back. It’s time for me to go back to Sweden, but a piece of my heart will always stay in St Marys. As the song says; “My heart will be always in my home among the hills.” (Of course Stockholm has a part of my heart too, and as another song says; “Stockholm i mitt hjärta.”)
Until we meet again, may God bless you and keep you.