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Berit Ramstad Skoyles: End is near for time in Chile, what’s become third home

Ten months ago, the date for my return from Chile was just a random date in the far future. Now, that date is only a week away. The day that I never thought would arrive is finally here.

At the beginning of my exchange year, everything was brand new — the language, the people, the culture, the sights. Now it feels like I’ve been living here for my whole life. Everything here is normal to me now — the language, the people — everything. My Chilean life is now routine and I am not ready for it to change.

I try not to count down the days that I have left, but it’s hard to avoid doing just that when my friends are constantly asking how much time I have left.

With only a week left of my exchange year, I am starting to get excited to go home. I stay awake at night thinking, “Eight days from now, I’ll be in the fort with Siri.” Or, “I’ll be eating real hamburgers a week from now.”

The little things that I miss are what is making me excited to return home.

Waiting for me in Detroit Lakes is my mother’s cooking, my favorite sister and the love of my life, our cat Bernice. Clam chowder, egg rolls, lasagna and Zorbaz will soon be residing in my stomach.

Soon, I will be watching WDAY 6 news while eating graham crackers on my kitchen counter. Camp Wilderness will soon be in front of my eyes.

These things that I look forward to are making the thought of my return home a little bit easier.

Still, it is very difficult for me to want to return home when my Chilean friends envelope me in bear hugs and tell me they don’t want me to leave.

They have suggested that I “lose” my papers so I am unable to leave the country. They’ve even offered their closets as places for me to hide.

I’ve become accustomed to the looks my friends are giving me. My first month or two it was as if their eyes were saying, “Oh poor thing!” because I had no real friends and didn’t speak Spanish.

Although I now get those looks for a different reason, they have become more prominent as my exchange year comes to a close.

The looks are sad, but it shows that my friends are as sad to see me go as I am to leave them, which means they won’t let me leave without a bang. My going away party isn’t going to be just any party; it will be a five day going away party.

There will be five days of showering me with a few last memories of my incredible year abroad.

The plan is to spend every moment from Thursday after school to Tuesday afternoon with my group of friends. There will be a party every night accompanied by our favorite activities during the day. I’d say that’s a pretty great way to end my year.

Although I will be leaving, I won’t really be leaving. I could never whole-heartedly leave Chile. Chile is now my third home. My heart will always be in Chillan, just as it will always be in Detroit Lakes and at Camp Wilderness.

I am already anxiously awaiting the day that I return home to Chile.

Berit Ramstad Skoyle is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.