Midyear Reflection

Authored By:

Mary P.

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the amount of time it took me to get back to writing. As many other bloggers have previously mentioned, the exhaustion of an exchange year can really affect your creativity. Sometimes I get too busy to write and other times I simply don’t have the motivation. But, since I strongly feel I am moving out of my exchange year slump as February arrives, I have the motivation once again to be creative and appreciate the beautiful things around me. 


It’s crazy to me that I’m already past the midyear point in my exchange. Sometimes it feels like that plane flight was a hazy memory from years ago and sometimes it seems to be only yesterday. It’s fun to read my blog posts from months and months ago but it’s also so strange because I know how I’ve grown and changed from the moments in between. 


Two weeks ago we had our midyear seminar in Oberwesel - a stunningly beautiful town in Southern Germany. This was such an amazing week to be able to reconnect with my American friends, reflect on my exchange so far, and take a short break from my life here. We stayed in a little hostel next to a castle on a mountain and I’m so grateful to have had this experience. My favorite memories include my late-night conversations with my roommates, the snowy walks we would take, and the white elephant gift exchange organized by Hugh. 


It is, of course, nice to return to my life here once again. There have been many changes over the last months such as switching host families, trying out new sports (and quitting soccer), and becoming closer friends to people I hadn’t even spoken to before. And, as the sun begins to return to Hamburg, I’m really starting to love my daily life. I’ve rediscovered my childhood passions such as going exploring in the woods for hours, making art that reflects the world around me, appreciating classical music and even trying ballet again. I think it’s a powerful feeling to be able to reconnect with the things you used to love, especially during your exchange year when you question a lot about yourself and your past. 


I wish I could capture all the feelings of an exchange. It’s just so difficult to put into words something so unique but also universal. It’s beautiful that the pain and loneliness of moving abroad is worth it when you are able to feel at home in a place that isn’t your home. It gives you so much strength to have to rely on yourself as your own best friend sometimes and to create your own sense of peace no matter how chaotic your environment can seem. I hope I am doing a good job of illustrating both the ups and downs of my adventure, but keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different and special in its own way :) 


I’m so hopeful for the coming months, as I trust they will bring new opportunities, memories, and hopefully the warmth of spring. I have so much to look forward to such as a weekend ski trip in Switzerland with another exchange student, a week in Mallorca in April with my host family, and of course the end-of-year seminar in May. There may be a couple things I currently dread such as taking my SAT in March, and taking summer classes, but as of right now I’m perfectly content with living in this moment. 


I’m so proud of all the exchange students that have gotten this far in their year, and I’m so excited to hear all your stories when we’re together again. For now, I wish you all a wonderful February and good start to 2024. 


Until next time, 

Mary P. <3