By Sweta Sadhu, YES India 2016-17, hosted with AIFS in Kansas

“It’s been a month (exactly a month) since I left my second home to return to my first home. It was really difficult to leave that place, the place where I lived for ten months. It is really crazy how the people who I met in these ten months really now mean so much to me! The people whom I didn’t even know for sixteen years of my life, are now an integral part of my life. Packing all these ten months into suitcase, was even more difficult. I had a 65 lbs. shipment sent, plus 50 lbs. of suitcase, plus 20 lbs. of carry-on bag and a jam-packed bag pack. Yeah, that was a piece of work but hey, I saved one meter of bubble wrap while packing and I enjoyed popping the bubbles at an ultimately satisfactory level.

It all started when I took off for this awesome journey on August 8th, 2016. After a long 12-hour flight I breathed the American oxygen. Knowing that I’ll be spending my next ten months here, I was excited to know more about this country, its people and culture. While doing so, I found out I was learning more of myself than any other thing. I found out that I wasn’t afraid of dark anymore, I slept alone at night with lights out! (I feel proud of myself). I even learned how to use chopsticks and how to hula-hoop. I know it’s childish, rather stupid for a 17-year-old girl learning these things but yeah, it’s never too late to learn. After all, it’s the little things that matters in life.


(Photo Above: With friends & family)

Now that I’m back, I’m readjusting to the Indian culture and climate. It is hot; hence I avoid going outside unless I have no option. I have to fix my accent (I never realized when it got changed. Not drastically but some of it). I’ve changed my weather app from Fahrenheit to Celsius, I expect a roundabout at every Kilometer and no more miles, going on the left side in the car for passenger’s seat, and wearing a seatbelt while my sister who’s driving the car doesn’t wear one.

Now, there’s not really anything like “privacy” and “personal space” in my family traditions so, even after I expected, I really felt invaded and it was a challenge I had to work on primarily. It wasn’t a piece of cake but my mom and my sister helped me get through it. And my friends! They’re just amazing, they helped me a lot. I’m very proud of my friends and yes, you can be jealous of me for having those friends.

Now that I’m back, I am also currently dealing with my academics. I’m having trouble getting admission in college for my undergrad degree. I don’t even know for sure if I am going to college or repeating my senior year in high school. Oh well, it’s complicated. But as of now, I’m living my life, organising a Quiz for the event in my high school which is called ‘Quest’. Hence, right now I’m having fun making questions and dealing with freshmen and sophomores every day, but again, friends make it really easy. But, I’m excited and I look forward to going to my school’s that stage to host the quiz, one last time, where I delivered a couple of speeches, leaded the prayer and shared some quotes.

Now that I’m back, I’m not an exchange student. I was. I am now alumni for the future exchange students, to guide them, to help them for making their exchange year successful.

Now that I’m back, indeed I miss Rossville and the people dearly. I really miss getting rides from Ariel and buying her coffee from Grounded. I miss going to Church every Sunday and going to my grandma’s house. I miss watching the main street fall asleep every night, from my window. I miss the sound of the train that passed by the house every now and then. I miss babysitting the three musketeers, Alexis, Zola and Maya. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”