Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 361 / Day 1

Donderdag, 2 Augustus 2012

This was the worst day of my exchange, by far.

First off, I didn't sleep. After the last entry, I went outside to watch the coming storm, recieved the CD from the fanfare concert we did in December, laid in bed trying to sleep, and then I just ended up watching BBC for like an hour or two. When it was time to leave, I was feeling so sick, like I would just  throw up everywhere.  Not fun.

Bart, Heidi and I got in the car and left for the airport.  It was a great morning, not too cold, not too warm, no rain.  One of the most painful car rides of my life.  It was pretty quiet, so I just had thinking time, which is never good.  Imagine the most painful sensation you've ever felt in your life.  Now multiply that by 10, and feel it everywhere in your body.  It's not like a broken wrist where you can isolate the pain.  It's just everywhere.

No one tells you about that when you sign up for an exchange.  Sure, they say it's 10x harder to leave your host country than it is to leave your home country, but those are just random numbers.  It's so much more difficult to actually feel it.  They never say that making amazing friends (especially so many of them) makes it that much harder to leave them.  Sure you can come back to visit, but you won't have the same day to day contact.  It hurts.

I held it together though.  Didn't cry on the way to the airport, just felt like someone was repeatedly punching me in the stomach.  Dropped my bags off, and then Marcela showed up.  We split my Mountain Dew and went to get her bags wrapped so they wouldn't break open, chatted, and just reminisced.  It really couldn't be a year ago when we both arrived.  I'm so glad we could arrive and leave on the same day - it would have felt weird to do it any other way.

Marcela's family showed up, and Marcela gave me a Kinder Egg since it would be my last legal one until I could get to Canada :P  We walked to the gate, said our goodbyes.  Well, I said it to my family and to Marcela's, and then she walked as far as possible with me to the passport check.  It just felt... unreal.  Like, I'd go on a little trip and then we'd be back together having fries in Turnhout with Santi.  I think my mind just made it so I couldn't comprehend what was going on.

Went through security, got to my flight (delayed, OF COURSE I found it out after I was through security D: ), and then sat on that for quite some time.  I tried sleeping, but it didn't work.  I read my book as soon as I took off, and I was crying by like the second letter.  I'm going to miss everyone so much.  And I like having the notes in Dutch so even if a friend steals the book to read it, they can't understand :P  I ended up crying for the like first hour of the flight.  And then I did something stupid (which only Collin would probably understand) - I read "John Dies at the End" while listening to Yeasayer and being both physically and mentally exhausted (remember, my last "real" night of sleep was Sunday night - woke up early on Tuesday and Wednesday counted more as passing out than sleeping).  Combining those three things made me SUPER paranoid.  Like, I thought I would hear plane noises, or if I tried to sleep I would feel like I was gone for like an hour when it really was like a minute.  Seriously, don't read that book if you haven't slept in a long time.

After landing I had to pick up my bags.  This is where it gets interesting.  So, as soon as we started descending, I started crying.  Not like bawling, but my tear ducts were just leaking.  I went through homeland security, and then picked up my bags from the thing.  So, imagine a 19 year old kid with red eyes from no sleep, crying, hair a mess from the plane, wearing cowboy boots, and carrying two LARGE suitcases and then a carry on, a backpack, and a rotary blazer.  I was quite the sight to see.  Luckily, around the corner was the next baggage drop.

Or so I thought.  See, the lady there said, "Do you have a connecting flight?  Then put your bags back on the strip."  So, my exhausted brain was like, SWEET, that was easy!  I have a connecting flight, and now I don't need to carry my bags.

Wrong-o.  Dropped the bags, and then checked the sign.  No flights to Minneapolis.  I asked the lady, and she's like, we don't fly to Minneapolis.  Oops.  Forgot I had to change airports :P  Went to baggage services to tell them I made a stupid and please fix it for me.  Then outside I just kinda broke.  Like, everything was real.  The airport was only in English.  When I'd hand someone something and say "alstublieft" I'd get weird looks instead of it being normal.  It didn't feel like Belgium.  I missed everyone so much.  My bags were gone because of me being stupid.  And I had been awake for like 35 hours.

So then the real waterworks started, probably scaring even more people around me.  Luckily on the bus to LaGuardia ($12.50?!) a nice lady started talking to me, making me have to control myself to answer.  We started talking about other things so I could calm myself down.  Very thankful to her.  It took like 40 minutes to get to LaGuardia (note to self - never book flights with an agent again), and then when I got into the airport I say a pub and I was like, Man, I could really use a burger and a drink right now.

But oh yeah, back in the US.  No drinks for Kelsey :(  So much culture shock already!  Went through security just to get to a place to sit and have internet.  Of course, then the stupid pay-internet wasn't loading, so then I was just sitting crying over my computer, swearing at it in 3 different languages (YAY being multicultural!)  Finally got it to work, called my dad on google voice, let him know what was up.

Had my first meal in the US (Auntie Ann's pretzel and blue raspberry lemonade), changed clothes so I would look presentable back in MN, and then got on the flight.  It was like 3 hours, and I couldn't sleep.  I tried.  I did everything from laying my head on the table to curling up in my seat.  Nothing worked.  So that really sucked.  Got to MN, and it was like OMG I'M HOME.  Got super happy.  Crying stopped.  I basically ran from the gate to where I would see my family.  My parents and brothers were there, so that was really nice.  My brothers gave me a Mountain Dew and a Reese's because they just knew I would need it.

We drove to Applebees, them basically just letting me talk the whole time.  The roads felt HUGE!  And no people on bikes!  Anyways, at Applebees, a few of my friends were there already.  Hugged, said hi, and just hung over.  All in all, over 20 people were at Applebees for my party.  It was so nice.  The menu's even said "Welcome Back"!  Around 11.30 (so around 40 hours awake or so), I was just dead.  We went home, saw the dogs again, got a mini tour of what we've changed in the house.  They kept pushing me to go to bed, and when I got to bed I found out why - my brother and my friend put a giant horse head mask under the covers.  It was pretty awesome.

Home just felt weird too.  Like, it was the same, but different.  It wasn't like how "my" house was in Belgium.  The door handles were knobs, not the pull down ones.  The counter in the bathroom felt lower.  There was carpet (and now that I think about it, I don't ever remember seeing carpet in Belgium...).  My room had WAY more stuff in it than I was used to.  It was just... different.  We'll see what happens.


  1. now that you're back home , if you want to watch the Olympics in real time , consider spending 10 dollars on an overplay account. it is a vpn service that will make your computer connect to the UK (or any country from a huge list from that matter) and give you an UK IP address . That way you can watch the Olympics on the BBC sports site , which has 14 channels of live events in HD , and a catch up service which allows you to watch anything that's happened since they started as well.
    BBC olympics :
    It's the best 10 bucks you'll have spent this month.

  2. I play a lot of online games with Americans. What they find most incredible , is when I tell them it's not cold in winter not hot in summer here .

  3. I can completely relate.
    Coming home = worse experience I've ever had.

    I started having post traumatic stress disorder symptoms when I got back - random panic attacks for the following few years.

    Yeah, I wasn't a happy camper when it came to leaving Switzerland.

    Feel ya.

    If you need to talk to someone who can relate, let me know.

  4. Grin :

    Quote : "The counter in the bathroom felt lower."

    Did you grow a bit maybe?

    Anyway , grant us a few more follow up entries please.