Bogalusa. 13 000 people full. 24.6 km² big. A little town hidden somewhere in a Louisiana corner, a little town nobody has ever heard of. And yet, this is where I have spent my last year of existence. Some people might think “Oh my God! How did she survive in such a small town?!”, but the truth is – even though it does sound a little tacky – I’ve fallen in love with this secluded little town. I fell in love with the fact that people ask me how I’m doing and show a genuine interest in what I’m about. I loved the way everybody stays on their phones late texting (aka SMS schreiben), just to fall out of bed the next morning trying to catch the school bus. I fell in love with the fact that the crazy weather made you sweat one day and wear a huge warm coat the next. I became used to joking with my teachers and getting caught up talking to my friends in the hallway only to realize I’m about to be tardy and run off trying to outrun the bell.
Running the risk of sounding corny again, I believe that Bogalusa was the best thing that ever happened to me. I mean seriously, how many people can say of themselves that they simply flew off to another country they hardly knew anything about to spend a year with people they had never met and coped with the situation? I believe that that is something to be proud of. Of course I had a couple difficulties in the start, but hey – I overcame and coped with them.
Nobody will ever be able to take away or relive all the new experiences I encountered, the valuable lessons I learned or the (somewhat) most amazing people I’ve ever met. Let me zoom back in time and go back to my last week in Germany. Boy, was I nervous. I don’t think I had ever been both that nervous and excited in my life. I was ready to jump headfirst into this adventure and to see what it was about, I was ready for something new.
And that was exactly what I got. I don’t think Bogalusa, Louisiana could have been any more new than it was to me: the faces, the food, the house, the school, EVERYTHING was different. And now all that is already history. It seems so surreal, I sometimes have to check my pictures to see if it all really took place. But I loved it.
I loved it the minute I stepped food into that town.
Not only did it bless me with new friends and two new families, but also with a better understanding of myself, who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.
Bogalusa changed me in ways Germany never could have. I have seen myself grow to be a bigger person than I was before. Other than becoming more independent, I have also learned to overcome my shyness and speak what is on my mind. For the first time I am able to say that I stood on my own two feet and overcame obstacles on my very own. Whether it was something simple such as catching the school bus or something a little more complicated like fighting for my diploma, I did it.
I now know that there is an unbelievable strength and will inside of me. But I also know that it took some experience and lessons to be learned to find this strength. I remember the very first month. I had never had that much budgeting to do in my life. All it took was a couple visits to the mall and the word “SALE” printed out in big bold letters to lure me into – overspending. A month after I arrived in America I was officially broke.
I was so surprised I even called the bank and tried to blame it on them. I simply could not grasp the fact that my calculations had been that bad. Luckily, I have two very understanding parents who after a couple words of wisdom and advice helped me out. A year of ups and downs, highs and lows and an awesome trip to Disney later, it was time to graduate. And with that diploma came the last week of this amazing experience. And with this last week came quite a couple crocodile tears. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing of the entire year. Letting go of everything you had grown so used and accustomed to was about to end and I had to plunge back into my old world, something I was very skeptical about.
But luckily, a huge entourage of hugs and cheers at the Tegel Airport in Berlin quickly kissed away all my fears. And even though I might have lost one or two friendships in my year abroad, I have gained an unforgettable lifetime of experience, so I know it was definitely worth it!