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This is the first of a “#Throwback Thursday” post series, where I pull out posts that have been in draft mode for over a year. This one is from 4 years ago.


“Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. This is my family…I found it all on my own” –Stitch from Lilo and Stitch

Of course I knew that this exchange year would change me and the other students, but I didn’t realize it would change us so profoundly.

Most of us are learning French, and with the confidence of speaking another language is another sort of change all on its own. We can communicate in two languages–opening the doors of communication to more people, and on top of that we are exchanging languages and cultures among ourselves, paving the way for a perfect blend of cultural understanding and perspective that is beneficial to everyone in every field of study.

One of the most important things I have learned though, is about relationships. Obviously I have grown a lot since the middle school days of having a huge group of friends that were always together, then high school having a smaller group, then when I arrived at university, I had no idea how make friends in such a large setting or decided who my friends really should be. Maybe it was just me, or maybe everyone feels that way?

A good rapport can be anything–two people who have a spark of conversation over coffee then never speak again, a supportive relationship between teacher and student, networks between leaders. But friends are completely different–they are the family that you choose.

Once I met a girl from Nepal who explained to me that she likes Western culture but she misses her friends in Nepal, because there, they are like sisters. You choose them and they choose you and you stay loyal. I fell in love with this sister concept. People who you do everything with and never need to act like everything is okay.

I don’t know where I was going with this. I think that I was trying to say that I had found my friends abroad. People that understood me and I understood them and we were all so far away from family that we took care of each other. I remember when Tessa lent me 50 francs because I was clean out of money and I did not yet have a credit card. I remember that I was upset once and Anna let me stay at her house in Italy for a week. I remember traveling around  with Scott and Lucas and Katharine and Valerie and how we all took care of each other. That kind of friendship runs deep. Akshat brought me back a bracelet from India when he went home over the break and Jon and Mylene cooked food and let me eat it (no they didn’t cook for me…just let me have some) more than once. Gareth still comments on my blog and Facebook posts, KP still talks to me like we have seen each other every day for the twice a year we get to Skype. I remember Cherie and I bonding over the fact that we were living the same life but different places. I remember when Eri didn’t want to be social but we all went to her room and made daquiris and she felt better.

It really is amazing, being able to travel and meet people that would not have touched your life otherwise. I learn so much about the world through travel, and I meet genuinely good people. So here’s to good friends and a #ThrowbackThursday.