By Nabiha Atique (YES 2019-2020, Pakistan, hosted by AFS-USA in Takoma Park, MD)
Leaving the home that I built in just nine months was the hardest part of my exchange year. From the day I arrived in the U.S., I knew exactly what it would feel like when the time came and I had to leave. However, it was much more than what I expected, so I really wasn’t prepared for it.The last few days with my host family were filled with tears, laughs, trips down the memory lane, and fun!
My host family even arranged a socially distant "Morp" (Prom spelled backwards, since it wasn’t an official one) since I couldn’t experience Prom in the U.S. We told all my friends different times to come over in our backyard, where we talked for a while, took pictures, and got to say goodbye to each other, even if it was six feet apart!
My host sister even made grilled cheese for me one last time, making it both my last and my first snack in the U.S. with my host family! I completed almost all of the things in my bucket list, which included a night tour of the monuments in Washington, D.C., saying goodbye to all my friends, dancing to Parabéns—which became my new favorite song for dancing— with my host family nonstop, and celebrating the first few days of Ramadan with them!
Even though I missed a lot of things like a concert of my favorite singer, ceramics in school, saying goodbye to my teachers, and a trip to New Orleans, I realized that what I experienced was way more than that and that I should be thankful for the amazing times that I got to spend with my host family and friends!
I surely could have made more memories, but even the ones that I made in first couple months were enough for me and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Even with returning back home earlier than expected and having my exchange year shortened, I wouldn’t take it back for anything!
Lastly, I’m so proud of myself, and proud of the YES class of 2019-2020 for being so brave and courageous during this hard time. We made history!