Illustration by Jasmin Lykke
The air felt thick and cold from the massive use of air conditioning and the American slang blended together with the noises of lockers slamming. I was overwhelmed with confusion not knowing where my class was or how to get there. Those were my first days of school and, in general, living in America. I now find myself nine months later as a whole new person, filled with new experiences, seeing everything in a new light. I used to live in two different worlds, which now only feels like one.
The U.S. has become my new home, English has become my primary language and the opposite day to day lifestyles have now become normal to me. I can’t imagine going back to my old home, family, friends and daily routine. The thought of leaving everything behind again scares and upsets me, but going home is even more terrifying. What is it going to be like after a year? Have I been forgotten? What changed? Did people change, and will I fit in? I’ve asked myself many questions during my stay, some even before I left.
I’m asked constantly where I’d rather be, if I want to stay in either the U.S. or Denmark and honestly, I have no clue because I love both countries and consider both my home. I miss the Danish traditions, food, my town, and all of the people, but I’d stay in the U.S. if I had the opportunity. I indeed fell in love with the American culture and the wonderful people. There’s nowhere like the U.S. The culture is filled with diversity, opportunity, kindness, and appreciation and recognition of people succeeding. The people I’ve had the honor to meet through this year have been the most welcoming and kind people I could have ever imagined. Everyone I’ve come across during my year has had an impact on me, some in a positive and others in a negative way.
My journey throughout this year hasn’t just been all amazing, there has been ups and downs. I was met with a cultural shock over the differences and had to change families. When I was dealing with obstacles, my main challenge was being on the other side of the world with a six hours time difference, and dealing with everything alone at the age of 16. The cultural difference and language barrier have been hard to overcome, now I have to face it again with my home country. One thing I learned here in the U.S., that I want to take home with me is being kind and welcoming towards all and embrace differences.