Before leaving, I was told that my year on exchange would be the hardest thing I would ever do. However, I did not think that was the truth at the time. Now I can say that my year abroad was definitely one of the hardest years of my life. I missed my American family and friends more that I can describe with words. I felt like an outsider. I made huge mistakes, and I felt more lonely than I had ever felt before. But one of the hardest parts that not many people talk about is how hard it is to leave. Yes it was a hard year, but I also had some of the greatest moments of my life. The friends I made in Italy will always be my friends and my Italian family will always be my family. I had some of the happiest moments there and losing all of those things is not easy.
I can say that my year in Italy was the most challenging thing I have ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. I have grown in more ways than one. I learned a different language, many different cultures, and I have become more independent. Now this experience is over. I’m at home in Arizona. I’m speaking English all the time and adjusting to my familiar lifestyle I had before. I’m becoming American again. My house looks exactly the same, my city looks the same, and the weather seems the same as before. But even though I’m back to my normal American life, I feel different. I feel changed. I feel more grown-up. I don’t know exactly how I’ve changed, but maybe I’ll find out later in the future. Until then, goodbye and good luck to all of the soon-to-be exchange students. You’re about to embark upon one of the most exciting years of your life!