My American Roller coaster

This is a guest post written by Sandra Schober

If life becomes a roller coaster; sit in the front seat, throw your arms in the air and enjoy your ride!

When I first saw that magnet on my host mom’s fridge, I didn’t really think much about it. I mean, yeah it was kinda cool but, you know, that was basically it. She’s just enjoying her life, living the moment, a lot of people do that. By the time now, I finally understood the real meaning of it. It’s not just a coincidence they call it exCHANGE. Things changed, I changed, but in a good way. I don’t know where I would be now if wouldn’t have pushed myself to not give up in the beginning. It was, for sure, the best time of my life and hell yeah I would totally do it again! It’s the little things in life that count the most and that we keep forever as sweet little memories.

Never ever would I have pictured my exchange to be like that. I always wanted to spend my life in the US, not just as a tourist but actually live there. I had certain expectations, people do that all the time. What I didn’t know: those expectations started excitement before my exchange but the more excited I was before it even had started, the more disappointed I was then. I was never the type of person to just take things as they happened. I planned, organized and mostly important expected way too many things. I couldn’t just let go. Soon I found myself in a huge disaster of emotions. I felt lonely, helpless, sad, angry, and simply horrible; I didn’t even know why, I couldn’t explain it. I was homesick, that’s for sure but I knew it was more than just that. Then I started to force myself to enjoy my exchange, just let go and let things happen as they, well just happened. Make the best out of it and, enjoy my ride on My American Rollercoaster. I started to think about things I never thought of before, laugh about things I would have never laughed about, cry because of things I would have never cried because and smiled because… well, it happened.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”


When I was a little kid my parents always told me stories, many of them I can’t remember anymore now, but I still remember my favorite one about a frog that never gave up:
There are two frogs trapped in a can full of milk and it’s impossible for them to escape the dangerous situation. They try to climb up the walls, jump out but they can’t. The two frogs pedal and struggle but it seems impossible to ever leave this can of milk alive. After hours of fighting the frogs are close to a breakdown, completely exhausted one of the frogs gives up and says: “I don’t anymore, I can’t, my leg hurts, I’m tired. We’re never gonna make it.” But the other frog doesn’t just want to give up, he still believes in a miracle and fights even harder. After a long exhausting night the milk finally turns into butter the next morning and the frog jumps out of the milk can…

Now that I’m back again in my actual hometown – it’s hard to say where home is now – just with the sweet memory and everything left from what I experienced during my (ex)change, I can just say it’s true. Everything they say about studying abroad. It ruins your life; you don’t know where left or right is, where you belong, what you should do, who you are. But in the end it’ll all be worth it. Sometimes we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable, push oneself over the limit, go places that nobody else has been before ( if there wouldn’t be those people out there we would still sit in caves and make a fire to keep ourselves warm). Even if it feels like it’s over now, deep inside there is always going to be this part of me. And I can just hope I’ll never lose it again. But this is parting of coming home and I don’t mean a long exhausting flight, it takes way longer to actually arrive at “home”. I don’t even know if I will ever be at home, because it’s at two places now. But this is another chapter that I am still writing on. Back to the beginning again: the well-known culture shock, getting used to everything, the city and the language. It feels like a deja vu, but still different. Something changed, nobody knows what exactly. Did something change?

All these experiences, helped me on my way forward even though it feels like I am moving backwards right now, what I actually really did by coming back. I know that all the ups and downs are part of life because there wouldn’t be any ups without a little down. And because of that I throw my arms way up in the air and enjoy my ride on the rollercoaster of life, caring the memories of the best time of my life in my mind and then, every time I think about my other home, I can’t prevent to smile. A smile that became a little more honest, happier, wiser, more experienced and most important full of joy of life.


That little town, on the other side of the world, that I didn’t even know exists before and seemed so strange at the start, will always have a special place in my heart and even if I don’t know when, one day I will be back. Because now I know, I also belong there. My home is at many different places now, my family and friends life all over the world and I might feel lost sometimes because of that but there is nothing better than knowing to be a global citizen, to call the world one’s place, one’s home.

Life isn’t always easy, but how boring would it be if there wouldn’t be any hurdles, stones, curves or rollercoasters?


Sandra is a 16 year old Austrian/German exchange student who spent a year in Valders, Wisconsin. She speaks German, English, French and Spanish. You can read more of her at her blog, Sandra Goes 2 USA.


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