Friday, August 21, 2009

back in the swing of things

Slowly my life becomes more and more back to "normal" and I feel myself getting back into the swing of things. Seeing familiar faces and running into friends and old teachers. Starting school. Sometimes I'm amazed that I've been on the other side of the world, lived a different life and made lifelong friends and family, and now I'm back here in North Pole, Alaska in my old school, and in my own bed. How fast time flies. And you don't realize how much something means to you - how significant a period, a phase of your life can be, and how much you will miss it, until it's gone. I think if I could give advice to the newbies over in Denmark, to all exchange students and to everyone really, is to embrace every moment of every day. Document your time to look back and remember, take it all in. And have no regrets. I miss Denmark, but mostly what Denmark and my year there represented. And what I learned.

Every exchange student spends time thinking about home and what they're missing there, the gossip, their friends. But coming home, I realized that it was almost wasted time worrying and thinking about it. Because nothing's changed. No one's changed. The school is the same, the people are the same and you are the only one that has matured. OK that sounds cocky, but every returnee will understand what I mean. You are not the same person you were when you left, and you left so anxiously to seek out the world and grow and learn. And you did. But when you come home, you expect people to be different and life to have moved on without you. But when I stop and look around, I feel like I'm 15 again (hah...) No one has changed. They still laugh about the boy who looked at the girl in Science class, or whose underwear fell out of their gym bag. My advice being: exchange students- don't waste your precious time thinking about home, or looking at pictures on facebook and wishing you weren't missing prom or something. Go out! Make friends! This is your year.... and I'm so jealous of you! hah..
But an exchange is only special because there's a limitation on time. If it was never ending you wouldn't treasure it and it wouldn't affect you so.
Thank you readers. I am constantly impressed by HOW many people read by blog, and maybe not every day! But the fact you take that extra second to see what I'm up to means the world to me. If there are any questions of course by now you know just ask away! My goal is to share what I know! Take care guys..
love francine

Friday, August 7, 2009

Busy Busy Bee

This has GOT to be the longest I've gone without writing! My family just got back on Wednesday morning from our 3 week trip to Australia and boy am I happy to be home! It was a great trip! We saw SO much! First we flew to Sydney from L.A. (14 hour flight guys... NOT fun.) and spent 4 fun-filled days with our Aussie pals, Janice, John, Merryn (my pen pal!) and Corrine (my brother's) in the Blue Mountains. And I have to say it was the COLDEST I've been in a really long time! And I live in Alaska. Australia is in it's winter right now and yes.. it's actually cold! Then we flew to the Red Center, Ayer's Rock or Uluru which was very cool! We spent 3 or 4 days there and then flew to Cairns, where we drove up to Port Douglas (I love it there!). We stayed there for 4 or 5 days.. went to Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, I HIGHLY recommend it to any Aussie travelers ... hint hint Bjarke and Solvej. It was amazing! And we went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. I will admit, I was extremely nervous about it. My last snorkeling experience in Hawaii was not fantastic... but the Great Barrier Reef is absolutely beautiful and amazing... I'm so so happy I got to see what I did! Even though I did get sick on the boat.. ick....
Then we flew down to Melbourne for 6 or 7 days.. where I saw Kyla! YAY! and spent a night at her house catching up.... and then went with my family as we drove the Great Ocean Road. Unbelievably beautiful you can't even imagine! We saw dozens of wild kangaroos and koalas. Omg I am in love with them. They are so so cute! (and I got to hold one up in Cairns!! But it was NOT wild!)
All in all a VERY good trip I will remember forever! But you know how it goes.. too much family time is not good. We were all very ready to be home and doing our own thing again! And me even more so, because my green suitcase that was missing for 3 weeks was FOUND and our friend Rachel picked it up at the airport and delivered it to my house.

I can't even tell you the (let's call it) despair when I saw that suitcase. It was ripped in 5 places. Completely ruined.. which is fine it was broken before anyway. But EVERYTHING inside had been thrown out, and thrown back in. All my papers were bent.. I was so upset. But then I remember what it was like.. the stress it caused me not knowing where my suitcase, the vessel of my precious memories, was... and I know how lucky I am they even found it at all! That I even have these things... Actually everything was accounted for.. the only thing missing being 2 scarves. 1 I had bought for Mamie and the other was mine. But that's pretty good considering!

It's so good to be home. To be in my own bed, after traveling and sleeping in 9 different beds in 3 weeks. It's such a relief to be getting settled, making plans for my school year. I had a meeting with my counselor at the high school today to discuss my credits and graduation requirements and my classes for this year. And surprisingly, I am doing VERY well for having missed a whole year of school!

I replied a lot of emails today that I have been meaning to do, but wanted enough time to make it meaningful and not just some quick message. And I wrote an email to Casper, which I'm going to quote because it just describes my feelings about returning from Denmark and coming home, so perfectly. Here it is:

"It's incredibly weird to be home! It feels like I'm in a dream I once had.. like this is temporary and soon I'll be going home to Denmark. So weird.. but at the same time, comforting that i'm back in my own bed! my own house... and I can understand EVERYTHING. haha... a nice change!
I miss Danish though! I miss you guys.. and Bjarke and Solvej, and my exchangies. And leaving Denmark was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I don't know how I made it... it was a nightmare and I cried for hours.. even on the plane... when everyone was staring at the insane girl crying in the back. hah... but it must come out. Sooner or later...
Seeing my family again was amazing! Except my brother.. he didn't talk to me for 5 days. Not one word. It was great with my mom and dad for about a week.. and then.. well it still is just awkward. We argue all the time.. and my brother is just.. well... we don't get along at all. I'm hoping it will change.. but he's a teenage boy: in his eyes the smartest person on the planet, and the most beautiful boy alive. Ah yes.. I remember those days! not....
{blah blah blah....}
I know.. people are dumb. But I knew it would happen.. I've been forwarned by kids that already went home (like Kyla..) that people aren't REALLY interested.. because in their eyes Denmark is a fantasyland that can't possible be real. Because the world revolves around North Pole, Alaska... and the United States of America, don't you know? However, I am lucky to have a really great mom who WANTS to hear.. and REALLY fantastic friends: Heather and Courtney and Mamie who are there for me.. listen to my insane rambling and deal with it. I feel like they really understand what i'm going through and are supportive and encouragine. I feel good about myself when I'm with them.. And I am unbelievably grateful to have such friends. I'm one lucky girl.

Well... the drinking culture was a huge shock, I shall have you know. My mom and dad are like "nope. no alcohol, no beer. deal with it." which ok.. I understand. It IS illegal.. but it's such a change. And I just.. my parents basically see me as the child I was when I left.. and I hate going from living with Bjarke and Solvej who treated me as an adult, to being treated like a 12 year old. At least I get to drive though... I LOVE that freedom! "

Yes.. that sums up my thoughts as of now! I saw on facebook and heard a bit that the newbies were over in Denmark now and settling in with their families, i think? It's hard to see and hear about, and i'm anxious to hear Evelyn and Sara and Bjarke and Solvej tell me how things are with the new exchangies.. but it's also hard to hear. It makes me so jealous and wish I could do it again. Mixed feelings.. still need sorting.

As always, you guys on the other line are fantastic! If there's questions, I hope you know I'd love to hear from you! Kisses and hugs back to DK