June 21, 2020
It is now time to write the journal that I think no exchange student wants to write.
I leave in nine days. NINE. It is absolute insanity that my time here is almost over. I honestly don’t think it has hit me yet that I am actually going home; it doesn’t feel real. It seems unfair to me that I have to leave, just when it feels like I am really becoming Lithuanian. Of course, I miss my family and friends, and I’m excited to see them. However, every space in my heart wishes that I could pick Lithuania up and put it right next to Florida. I will miss it so so much. I’ve had people say to me, “Morganne, you can always go back and visit.” I think every exchange student can agree with me, that it is not the same. Going back home to America, I am leaving my entire life as an exchange student behind. Living in Lithuania, I live as a Lithuanian, with routines and everything else that comes along with a life. When I come back to visit Lithuania, I will simply be a visitor.
Being an exchange student was the most challenging thing that I have done in my life, but I think returning to “normal” life will be equally as challenging. Clearly, I am sad about leaving, but I am also looking forward to moving on, and using all of my knowledge I gained in Lithuania back home. I already know that I’ve changed from the time I arrived here. I look back at pictures from September, and I think, “that is not the same person.” I am 100% more mature, and 200% more confident in myself. I think change is a wonderful thing, and during our whole lives we continue to morph into different versions of ourselves. But- I cannot help but be a little nervous with my return home. How will I feel as this new version of myself in what is supposed to be my “home,” when I have changed to fit in with Lithuania? So yes, I’m a bit nervous, but if exchange has taught me anything, it’s that life is what you make it. I’m excited to face the challenges that will come my way, and to live for the rest of my life as if I only have 9 days left on exchange!
This past month has been really great. I moved back in with my first host family, and my host sister is my best friend. Our quarantine restrictions have been mostly lifted, so life is “back to normal.” Everyday I have tried to do something meaningful. Not only because I have so few days left, but also to make up for the time I have lost during quarantine. If you are a future exchange student, my advice to you is- do NOT waste any of your days. Yes, there are days where you do not want to do anything or go anywhere, but push yourself, because you never know if another global pandemic will take away two months of your exchange. I also would just like to say how awesome Lithuania is in general. A small, but beautiful country. Not only beautiful landscapes, but a beautiful culture as well. My appreciation and understanding of the culture grows each day, and I simply love this country. Lietuva yra mano antrieji namai!
I’d like to finish the journal off by simply saying thank you. Thank you to everyone in Lithuania who made my exchange great; my families and friends. Thank you to my family in America for supporting me when I needed help. Of course, thank you to each Rotarian who makes exchange possible.
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Hey guys! Just popping in to say I’m just chilling in quarantine..
First I was really lucky to have gone to France before the virus really hit here. I visited my host brother Joris (who my family hosted last year). It was a really wonderful trip for a bunch of reasons. Firstly, where he lives is absolutely beautiful; Annecy France, a smaller city by Switzerland. I also got to visit to Lyon and Geneva for a day, both lovely cities. Of course, I love French food; cheese and bread, and then some more cheese 😉 But the most interesting part of this trip was to meet my host brother’s family. After living with him for five months, I loved being able to see the family that made him the person that he is. The day I got back from France was Lithuanian Independence Day, which I spent with the other exchange students. We went on a hike through the capital to celebrate, and I got to watch a parade & my host grandma made these really delicious pancakes that they only eat on special occasions!
Now talking about the virus. My euro tour was cancelled, and a trip to Poland I had planned. There is no school, and we are stuck inside because the weather still is not that great. BUT I am making the best of it. Everyday I try to wake up and do something productive. I exercise, study Lithuanian, and spend time with my host family. I have done some painting, and admittedly have watched a lot of netflix. I’ve called friends and family back home; basically have done everything you could think to do if you have been inside for 3 and a half weeks. For a few of the days that we actually have had good weather, my family and I went to their “fazenda.” It’s my host dad’s grandfather’s house, and let me tell you, it is OLD. Over 100 years! There is no running water, which means using an outhouse. When we were there we did preparations for the spring and summer. We cleaned out the garden and did a lot of raking. My favorite thing was the grilled chicken my host dad made on the fire. I’m hoping the weather gets really nice soon so we can go more often, because it is beautiful. You are surrounded by only fields, and you feel peaceful.
Some people have asked why I’m not coming home. First of all, I have a sister who has a very weak immune system. I feel as though right now it is more dangerous to travel than to stay in Lithuania, and I would be worried to spread the virus to my sister if I were to return home. In addition, I still don’t feel as though my time in Lithuania is finished. I would rather be in quarantine here for two more months, with the possibility of having one last month of a “real” exchange, than to return home now. Even being in quarantine on exchange is an experience. I’m spending time with a wonderful host family, eating the food, and learning the language. There really is nothing more I can ask for, except for all of YOU to stay inside, and to wash your hands 🙂 I’m hoping to come home to a country out of quarantine!! Thank you Rotary for helping us during this strange time.