Yes, there's a new post. I can't believe it myself. I always wanted to do a post where I looked back at my experience after a little while and tell you if I would recommend it. I really don't know why I never came around doing that.
I remember that the first weeks back in Germany were horrible for me. I missed Brazil, my host family, my friends, the food, even school and just everything. I cried myself to sleep every night and did nearly nothing as I didn't have to go to school. In retrospect I really regret that I didn't have any plans for the time after my exchange. As it was, it all felt a lot like a dream and sometimes like I wasn't really away. At home things changed but they still felt the same. The just couldn't display the changes that had happened within me.
The best thing was that the World Cup had begun shortly after my return to Germany.
However what really helped me to improve my condition was going to the One Direction concert in Düsseldorf alone. I spoke to strangers and realized that I had really changed, that I had become more self-confident and open. I got in contact with other quickly and made some new friends (also some that disappointed me later, but that's a different story). After that I was ok but I don't remember what I did all summer aside from watching football games. As you can imagine, the game Brazil vs. Germany was especially entertaining and also quite hard for me because I rooted for both teams. Germany becoming world champion was of course nice.
At the end of August I began an internship at the nursery school my mum works at because even though relaxing is nice and everything, at some point you just need to do something to get back into a routine.
In September I started a new school and the next three years were quite exhausting but at the same time successful and totally the best school years of my life (aside from PE, I hated these lessons!).
In June 2017 I graduated and I already have a acceptance for university for a Bachelor in "International Management". The great thing about that is, that the degree course is a double degree which means I'll study two years in Reutlingen and then two years in São Paulo, so: I WILL COME BACK TO BRAZIL! I really miss the country and everything about it (aside from the food: I'm a vegetarian now). I got accepted into another university program (International Relations in Erfurt) but even though people who now me personally now that this is the course I've always wanted to do, I urge to have the opportunity to go back to Brazil is stronger at the moment. There's still a small chance my plans will change in the upcoming months, but at the moment I can't imagine that.
I visited Brazil again in 2015 together with my mum but that was the last time and my plans to go back after my graduation got cancelled as I'm doing a voluntary service in Mexico now (follow my journey here).
In 2015 we flew to Rio de Janeiro first (via Lisbon and São Paulo, quite a long trip), spent a few days there and then went to Varginha by bus (horrible memories, who would have thought it was such a twisting route?) to visit my host family. My mum went home earlier and stayed for a few more days and it wasn't nearly long enough.
So I really can't wait to go back for a longer span of time (two years should be enough :D). My spoken Portuguese has unfortunately became quite bad as I always mix it with Spanish nowadays and I just haven't used it since 2015 apart from a holiday trip to Portugal. However I can still understand it in both written and spoken form and my writing is also acceptable as I'm still in (irregular) contact with my host family and some of my Brazilian friends.
So now to another important part, my résumé: Would I advise other young people to do an exchange year? YES, YES, and again YES! It was the best experience in my life up until now and I wouldn't be who I am today without it. I learned so much about life, myself and of course Brazil. I made some really great friends that I miss a lot. I found a second family and feel that I can always go back to. Yes I struggled in the first months because I didn't get along with my first host mother and there are something I would to different today and I regret some things (mostly things I didn't do and not taking enough photos).
But especially the second half of my years was amazing and even the way happened, I would always do it again.
So to everyone: if you get the chance to be an exchange student, DO IT! The country doesn't matter, even though I strongly recommend Latin America and first and foremost Brazil (but honestly: I'm biased). If you're to old to be an high school exchange student: take every other opportunity you get to spend a longer time abroad. Yes it won't always be easy but it is so worth it.
I told in my last post that I wanted to talk about my returnee seminar with AFS but to be honest, I don't really remember much about it anymore. I also started to get involved as a volunteer for AFS but unfortunately school got in the way and I really didn't have enough time for it. In 2016/17 we hosted a girl from Mexico at our home and I got a little closer to the organization again even though I'm doing my voluntary service with someone else.
Not remembering is also one of the things that still upsets me sometimes. It's been over three years since I returned to Germany and of course the memories are fading. I makes me sad but I now I can't really prevent it from happening. However I hope that at least some special moments and the general feeling of thinking of that time will always stay with me. I've gotten plans for a tattoo to help me with remembering for ages and I hope I'll get it done in the near future.
I'm writing this while already being on my next stay abroad, this time as a volunteer in Mexico. If you are interested in this experience and want to follow my year, go to: https://mymexicanyear.blogspot.com/
As an incentive, here a few photos of my first week here:
Thank you everyone for following my journey and hope you'll follow me along for the next years again.
I think this will be the last post here as everything about my exchange year seems to be said. If you have any questions you can of course contact me.
Lots of love, viele Grüße & Beijos,