Friday, July 31, 2009

Someone find the Ocarina of Time...

Four hundred ninety-five thousand
Three hundred minutes,
Four hundred ninety-five thousand
Moments so strange

Four hundred ninety-five thousand
Three hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure an exchange?

In school days, in beach trips, in hair length
In mountain crossings,
In meters, in petrol, in tramps, tours, or sights

In four hundred ninety-five thousand
three hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love? How about love?
How about love? Measure in love

Families with love
Families with love

Four hundred ninety-five thousand
Three hundred minutes
Four hundred ninety-five thousand
Places to stay,

Four hundred ninety-five thousand
Three hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a student who’s away?

In days they revelled
Or in times that they cried
In lies they dispelled
Or the things that they pride

It's time now to sing out
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
(Oh you got to, got to)
Remember the love
(Remember the love)
Families with love
(Measure measure your life in love)
Families with love
Families with love

Yep, that's a mutilated song for you. As I sit here in my final full day, I look back on what things I've done while I've been here. While at first it seems like things have only been going on for maybe a few weeks, after looking back, I've actually done quite a bit of stuff. From working at the Rally New Zealand to giving an extremely unpopular speech to my school peers, I've done many different things. I've made friends, made mistakes, attended events, dispelled U.S. misconceptions, and have seen a huge variety of different people. I consider myself lucky that I got to be with 5 different families, who all seem to have different styles of life. I've had some nice laid-back time with the Jackmans and Gibsons, combined with more active and outdoorsy lifestyles of the Kellys and Cooks, and I've always had a moment's reprieve with the Taylors before going into a new style of living. So, I'm betting many people will wonder if I've changed or not. Personally, I don't know. I leave the final decision of whether I've changed or not to you, my readers (and you non-readers too) who haven't truly seen me in person (Skype doesn't count, hehehe) since I've left.

I've gotten my trusty school transcript (4 copies, actually), my NCEA exams, and my online math backing me up so I don't have to repeat a school year. I've got my flights all arranged, and I'm excited to spend that 18 hours or so of time in the air. And when I arrive back, I have no doubt I'll find unexpected changes to people and places back home. Apparently my school now has a new principal (yet again), my old school has new buildings that would be fun to visit, and I've got family and friends to catch up with (not like anyone expected anything different). I'm also looking forward to going back into normal things that I do back home, like fencing and actually challenging schoolwork (yes, I'm actually looking forward to that). Of course, I've still got a good month to fully return to the U.S. style before school starts, so I have a good bit of time to fully adjust.

I'd like to thank all of you people who have read my blog from any point in time, whether from your own accord or my constant persuasion. I'd also like to thank the AFS Waikato South chapter for hosting me and working to make sure I didn't change cities in the middle of my exchange. And even though they already know this, I would also like to greatly thank my families that I've been with while I've been here. Without host families, exchanges aren't possible. No matter how good the program, everyone always needs loving families to stay with, to treat you as their own child or sibling, and to help you live in a foreign environment. It's these families that make exchange programs the experiences that they are. If you were in a hotel, you'd be living like a home country citizen in a foreign country, and you would miss out on more than half of the things that make an exchange like this so memorable. So thank you, my 5 families in New Zealand, for making my exchange the experience that it was.

Yet, even though I'm heading back, the path for me, the ambassador, is still not over. Re-entry can be just as hard as first arrival, but I think that with the experience I have behind me, I'll have the ability to handle it quite well. I'll be seeing many of you readers once again pretty soon, probably wishing something along the lines of...

"Good morning! But in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" -The Truman Show

P.S. I'll still post a while after I arrive back, with various things like pictures and my feelings as I re-adjust to U.S. life.


Mom said...

This is beautiful, reflective, creative, informative, and so kind. I'm so very proud of who you are, Andy. And I can't wait to see you!
Much love,

kent said...

bravo! nice blog ... if you go on my blogu! I think that is interesting! novel is the way ... ... I hope you do not have a hate on us ... as everybody else in the world .. . not all Romanians are the same ... my blog is in 6 international languages you wait ...

Grandpa said...

Hi Andy,

I was tipped off by your Mom via email today about your blog. Your Mom's comments say it just well as I could. You do a marvelous job in expressing your experience and your feelings which is so important. What we all need to do (including me at age 81)is to express them, not on;y in print (althoigh that's a great thing), but to do so in a personal way to each other.

Thanks for your good words.

Love, Grandpa