I’ve always written my blog posts as honestly as is possible, I want them to be an accurate reflection of what I am experiencing on exchange. However, I am not going to deny the fact that I write more about the times where everything is great than the times when I don’t feel so great. Granted, there have definitely been more good times than bad times (try the ratio 10000:1) however I feel as though I should share my experiences of my last 2 weeks. I do this because I know that these experiences have helped me to grow and given me the opportunity to make myself proud and, even though there were tears involved, I understand it is all a part of being an exchange student.
I’ll start with a basic description of what I’ve been up to in the last two weeks. I’ve had school everyday, basketball training 2 times a week, skolekorps rehearsals and 2 performances, attended a Rotary meeting with my District Governor to speak about exchange, gone to a confirmation, played in a basketball tournament, gone to a season kick-off presentation for basketball, given a speech at my district conference and prepared and presented a 15 minute presentation about the developmental values of Simon Says in Norwegian (you read that right). This is the sort of business that I crave but, unfortunately, also leaves me with a severe lack of sleep (severe is probably an over exaggeration but you get the idea). Most days of the week I come home straight after school for dinner and then head out again to training or a rehearsal or something along those lines. I then get home again somewhere between 9:40pm and 10:45pm depending on the day. I then have to wake up the next day at 6:45am and head to school. I’m aware this may sound like I’m only complaining but I’m just trying to set the scene so, when I explain what happened, you can sort of understand a little bit of what I was going through.
I will take you back a week from now as that is really when my predicament sort of started. I was coming off a very large week before and hadn’t been able to really get a break on the weekend due to performances and other commitments. I was looking ahead at another big week but this time there were a few more factors thrown in. On the Friday evening and Saturday I’d be playing in a basketball tournament, on the Sunday I’d be at my District Conference where I had to give a 5ish minute speech for a room full of rotarians and on the Wednesday I’d have to give a 15 minute presentation about the roll of play in a child’s development and how Simon Says develops the cognitive, social, language, motor and emotional areas of a child’s overall development. This might seem like a large time frame to get everything done but, as the rest of my life continued, I had different activities on nearly every evening and then all of a sudden it was Saturday and all I had for my Rotary speech was a couple of notes and my school presentation was virtually non-existent (I understood that I didn’t have enough time on Monday afternoon or Tuesday afternoon to get it done so the weekend was sort of my last chance to get it done).
Now comes the next part of this story. I did my biweekly (admittedly occasionally weekly) phone call home. Back when I was in Australia whenever I was feeling overwhelmed (I do believe that is the best word to describe how I was feeling) I would talk to my mum about it. I’ve always found it helpful to talk to her when I feel like I’ve got too much happening and so I divulged what was sort of going on. This, I’m pretty sure, was the first time I’d told her of any problem before I’d solved it. There have only been three other times when I’ve cried whilst talking to my parents on the phone (I don’t think they realised it in the third though) but my most recent phone call makes 4. I’ll be honest, in that moment all I wanted was a hug from my mum (I know it sounds tacky). After the phone call I didn’t actually feel particularly better. If anything I was incredibly frustrated at myself. I know I’ve changed since I came on exchange and I guess a part of me believed that this ‘new and improved me’ didn’t get overwhelmed or upset anymore and so when it happened it felt like a kick in the gut. I wanted to be this super mature and in-control person yet somehow I’d let myself freak out about these tiny little things, I’d thought I was done with that.
I was still freaking out after I got back from the basketball tournament that day. I had an afternoon ahead of me to write and perfect a speech to convince rotarians that their age shouldn’t prevent them from being a host family. Long story short I managed to knuckle down and write and completely memorise a 4ish minute speech that I honestly couldn’t be happier with. I presented it on the Sunday to a room of around 120 rotarians and I couldn’t have been happier with how it went. When I got home that afternoon I knuckled down once again and managed to churn out the presentation for Wednesday (that also went very well if you were curious).
It’s very easy to claim a lot of things ‘upon reflection’ but I am also aware that, when you are in the moment, you don’t have the knowledge to see into the future and see things ‘upon reflection’. For me the reality is this: if there was anything that was marring this past week it would be the fact that I’d been so honest with mum. It would be so much easier to just have told her how great everything went afterwards and spare her the concerns I had before. At the same time, maybe the pep talk I got was exactly what I needed, it is definitely nice to know that someone is rooting for you all the way across the sea. I don’t like admitting when I don’t have everything sorted out, when I am, in some ways, struggling and when everything isn’t 100% perfect. I guess a part of me likes to believe that I’ve become this sort of super-human who has complete control of her emotions and doesn’t need anybody whilst on exchange. It was probably good this last week knocked me down a peg. I also know I’m blessed to be as busy as I am, to be able to experience so much whilst on exchange. I know one of the reasons the tasks of this week freaked me out so much is because I now expect myself to produce the same level of speeches and presentations in Norwegian as I do in English in Australia.
So this was my attempt at being more honest, of sharing the bad and the ugly as I share the good. I hope it was enlightening in some ways.
Until next time,