Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Final Goodbye

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been back in Canada and it’s hard to realize how fast the year flew by!  June 13 struck my 1-year back mark and my exchange seems like a lifetime away now.  My rebound year really took me through the ringer at some points as I hated the fact that I had to be in Canada again.  But by January things finally started to turn around for me.  I knew I had to let go of the past and move on to enjoy what was ahead in my future.  I made some changes and promises to myself that have improved my outlook on my life and I can finally say that I am extremely content in my Canadian life again.

I barely find myself telling people about my exchange anymore, only if conversation about travelling comes up then I’m able to share some of my experiences.  I decided that after my first semester I needed to really put my priorities back in order.  I hadn’t done as well in school as I had hoped to and I finally came to the conclusion that I was not going back to Chile anytime soon.  I focused my attention back onto school, family, friends, and being active again.  A few goals later I managed to get through my second semester of university with a higer average and even managed to make it onto my university cheerleading team for next year!  Life was finally turning around for me and I knew that I had been holding on to my memories of Chile for too long and living in the dream world of exchange and what ifs.   

The rebound year of exchange was the worst part of the exchange process, but in the end it really benefited me personally as I was able to learn from it and make changes by my own means.  I’ve been able to talk to some excited outbounds from my district on their “Announcement Day”, answering questions about South America, the culture, what kinds of things should I bring, etc.  When they would ask how it was being back you never really wanted to tell them the truth, yes… it sucks, but it gets better.  I’m just so excited that they are just starting on their adventure of exchange, fresh eyes going into a new journey.  

Since Rotary was so good to me all my exchange years my parents decided that we would host an exchange student this past year.  I was so excited; although I would be off at university all year I was still able to come back home and hangout with my exchange brother.  Caio from Brazil joined our family on December 26th (same date I switched families…. Weird), and it’s been quite fun having a little brother around.  I really only got to hangout with him when I was finished school in April to May, but I sure will miss him!  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have great host-families.  I knew my family was fun, adventurous, and fair when it came to rules and that they would be excellent host-parents.  We’re hoping a trip to Brazil will be in the future!

Caio and I reppin our Rotary blazers

As for me right now I can only say that I’m yet on another adventure!  This summer I landed a job working for Ontario Parks doing a travelling “Learn To Camp” program.  My co-worker and I have been travelling from Sudbury area provincial parks and will make our way up to Kenora (near Winnipeg) teaching families the basics of camping.  A job that allows me to travel to places I’ve never been to before – perfect!  I’m so lucky to once again have an experience that allows me to travel.  Although I’m constantly dreaming of what could be my next adventure abroad, I’m finding it so special to be able to travel in my own province and see things and parts that I’ve never seen before.  I’m already about 1,500 kilometres away from home at the moment in Thunder Bay, and have never been this far North ever!  Throughout the summer we’ve been camping in different provincial parks or staying at staff houses, constantly changing location, scenery, and park staff friends every week or so.  I’m so happy to still be able to live somewhat of a travelling life!  If you're interested you can follow our travelling adventures through our twitter...

My co-worker (Shelby) and I at Pancake Bay Provincial Park

And with that I believe this brings an end to my Chile-blogging days.  I am no longer an exchange student and I’ve made it to the end of my rebound-year.  I hope through my writing and pictures I have showed a side of Chile and exchange life that has inspired and has been positive.  Thank you everyone who has actually taken the time to read my posts and especially to those who have been there for me during all the emotional train-wrecks.  My exchange year in Chile was truly unforgettable.  I will always keep those memories and friendships close to my heart forever.