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Berit Ramstad Skoyles: Hard to adjust to being back home

It seems like a dream - almost insignificant. The things I did, the people I met, everything seems as though it never really happened.

In reality it was a dream. Being an exchange student had been my dream ever since I was a little girl. The thought of living a different life and becoming someone new sounded like the best dream that there could be.

And it was. It was the best year that I could have imagined. I wouldn’t take anything back for the world. I wouldn’t change a thing. Every little mistake and mishap contributed to the way that my year turned out.

People refer to my year abroad as a trip. What I took was not a trip; it was a risk. I took a risk to become someone completely different, a risk to know something outside of Detroit Lakes and be able to tell my stories from all over the world. It was the best risk I could have taken.

When people ask me how my year was I can only say “amazing.” I would much rather tell them in detail how amazing it really was, but I know that they don’t want to hear every little detail. I want to start every sentence with, “One time in Chile...” but every time I do the look on the person’s face says it all. They don’t care.

After saying that it was amazing so many times I wish I could find a better word to use. The problem is amazing doesn’t even begin to describe how my year really was. Incredible? Unbelievable? Indescribable seems to be the only word that will ever fit.

Being back for more than two weeks has not been easy. The fact that I’ve been in Minnesota for more than two weeks scares me. Yes, it’s nice to be home, but I can’t shake off the fact that I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to speak English, I don’t want to adjust back to my life in DL.

As much as I don’t want to adjust back, I know that eventually I will have to. My dad’s advice was to act like the new exchange student again. I’m just going to act like I haven’t known everybody for 17 years. I am a grade behind now, so I’ll have to make new friends. I’ve done it before so I know I can do it again.                           

It is hard to admit how difficult it actually is to be back home. I am now so socially awkward that I don’t know what to do with myself in public. It takes strength not to kiss everyone I meet on the cheek. The little things that are so different from the way I did them in Chile are what make it so difficult.

Almost every day my best friend from Chile asks me if I’m happy. I would be lying to her if I said yes, but I can’t say no either. I’m not happy, but I’m not sad. Honestly, it all feels numb. I am happy to be back home and see the things that I’ve missed so much, but at the same time, I am not particularly happy to have left my friends and the life I knew in Chile.

It’s going to take me a while to get fully adjusted back to life in the States, but over time I know I’ll be fine. I’ll get adjusted over the year and then it’ll be time to head back to Chile. My countdown is now less than a year away.

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