Hallo Tumwater Rotary, 

 

Well, the time has come. After 11 months of living in this amazing and tiny country of The Netherlands, it is time for me to return back to my home in Washington. 

 

Of course I knew when I signed up for an exchange year that I would have to leave it all at the end of the year, but I never expected it to be this hard. I must say leaving my home in The Netherlands is much harder than it was for me to leave my home in Washington.

 

The last weeks of my exchange have been everything I could have asked for. Long days and nights with my friends, barbecues, paddle boarding, sunburns. I even visited Elisa, the exchange student my parents hosted along with Sophie, in Belgium! I’ve said goodbye to most all of my friends now, and I had a nice farewell brunch in the garden of my host house, with American pancakes for them all to enjoy for the last time. 

 

I also had a special goodbye party with all of my wonderful host families from this year, with lots of food, drink, laughter, gifts, and tears. It’s amazing how in only one year with only a few short months with each of these families, I really do love them all, and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to know these amazing people who 11 months ago were nothing more than strangers to me. It’s comforting to know that if- actually when- I come back here, I will always have these wonderful people to call my family. 

 

I think one of the weirdest parts of exchange ending has been watching the other exchange students all return home to their previous lives. Already we don’t talk as much, we can’t see each other, and most of them have been busy readjusting to their homes. It is bittersweet. It may be that I never see any of the people I shared this wonderful year with again, but I know myself and them will always cherish the memories of the short year we all spent learning and loving the Dutch culture together. There is a particular bond with exchange students that makes me know that wherever I am in the world, I will have a place to stay. 

 

But now it’s time for me to pack my bags. I hope to see you all soon! 

 

Groetjes, 

Meghan Callender