I have now completed one full semester of the National Student Exchange program and could not have been happier with my decision to take part in this program. I could go on and on about the benefits that I have personally experienced and reasons why you should take part. However, as winter break comes to an end, I am faced with the most difficult part of this program. I am about to move back to Sonoma State University in Northern California for my second and last semester of my NSE experience. This is my second time saying goodbye to family and friends and also my second time leaving my hometown. I thought it would be a lot easier the second time around, but it wasn’t.
Saying goodbye to the people you love for an entire semester is a very difficult thing, and I am not going to sugarcoat it. This was the one thing I struggled with the most regarding the NSE program. However, I for one do not think that missing friends and family and being a little homesick should stop you from taking part in such an amazing experience. The pros outweigh the cons. With that being said, there are so many things that you can do to make the transition a little easier.
One thing that I made sure to do before leaving last semester was to say goodbye to everyone. This seems a little obvious, but it is a lot harder than you think to say goodbye to everyone you think you might miss while you are away. Schedules get busy and full, and packing up and preparing for departure can be a little crazy as well. Finding the time to say a formal goodbye to all of your family members and friends that you are close with can be a very difficult task, but it is critical to do. There is something reassuring about taking your time to say goodbye to everyone that you think is important in your life before leaving to go to a new place. This will also make the goodbye for your family and friends a lot easier as well.
Moving far from home to a new place does not mean you won’t talk to your family and friends for the entire semester you’re away. There is text messaging, snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Facetime, and so many other ways to communicate while being far away. Another thing that I found to be very beneficial about the goodbye process was to discuss the level of communication you both expect during your time away. I talk with my boyfriend and best friend every single day while I am away in California. This is something we established before even leaving, and what both parties agreed on. I also call my mom once or twice a week just to catch up and let her know what I’ve been up to. Setting up communication expectations between family and friends before leaving is important to keep these relationships thriving.
The last thing that I have found to make the goodbye process a lot easier is to keep the right mindset during this time. Reminding yourself why you are taking part in this program is so important. So, make sure you have a solid “why” and reason for going away that you can remind yourself of when you start to get sad about leaving. You also need to remember and remind yourself that you are not moving away from the ones you love forever. It is just four months, or in my case, a full year with Winter Break in between. It is not a permanent move and you will see your family and friends again. This is just one small fraction of your life, and you need to make the most of it. This requires you to not have any doubts or any regrets about going to a new place.
Saying goodbye to the ones that you love is one of the most difficult things, and also the reason a lot of people decide not to take part in programs like NSE. I had a very hard time adjusting to a new place and knowing I wouldn’t be able to see my family and friends until the semester was over. But I got through it, and I have no regrets. Now it is time for me to say goodbye to everyone for the second time, and this part will never be easy for me. However, with the positives of NSE, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Submitted by Brandi Norum