Pauline Dellamaria’s Reflection on Life in America

Pauline Dellamaria, Foreign Correspondent

One year ago, I was enjoying my spring break trip with my host family in San Francisco. Now, I’m back in Belgium with only memories to bring me back to my amazing life in the US. However, the questions are: “What has this exchange program given me? What has changed since I traveled back to Belgium? Do I miss my American life?”

I still remember the moment I left the American territory and the moment I landed in Belgium. All has gone so fast. I had to say goodbye to all my friends and the people who have welcomed me for that one year, those whom I consider to be my American family. I had to say goodbye to the American weather (only the summer one). I had to let go all of what I’ve accomplished.

At the airport I couldn’t realize I was leaving for real. After all, I was just doing another trip, so I said goodbye without realizing it was the last hug I’ll get before a long time. I got on the plane and landed 9 hours later. I heard people speaking French all around me. It was so weird because I wasn’t used to hearing so many people speaking French, and I just wanted to speak some more English.

After I got back my two heavy suitcases, I was in front of the door separating me from my family that was waiting for me.  I was so scared because I knew from the moment I’ll be on the other side of this door, all this adventure will be over. Fortunately I was with my boyfriend, so he helped me to move on and reach the other side of it. I saw my family and friends with big smiles, and I remembered I had  missed them so much. They had organized a ‘’welcome back party’’ to prevent me from thinking about what was going on, about the fact I was back for real in Belgium, about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to go back to America for a while, and about the fact that my exchange program was definitely over.

At the beginning, it was really difficult to act like a Belgian citizen again. I didn’t recognize my room; it wasn’t mine anymore. Like my home, the stores were different, and I couldn’t find the food I had been eating for 10 months. (Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy anew the delicious Belgian chocolate and the French fries.) Sometimes, I would wake up during the night crying because I wasn’t feeling myself here, and I wanted to take the plane to America and stay there.

Today, it’s still difficult being far away from America, but I’ve learned to live like a Belgian student in Belgium. I’m not the girl I was in Belgium before leaving for America and I’m not the girl I was in America; I’m mixed. I took advantage of both, and I’m now a young lady. I feel so lucky for  having a chance to live this amazing experience. I have learned so much about myself. I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished and what I dared to do. I lived my year to 100% and discovered so many things about America and the American civilization.

‘’It’s always difficult to live when you heart is on two different continents.’’”

— Unknown

As the quote (see left) says, I wish I can be able to go back to the US at every moment. I miss my host family a lot, my friends, and my teachers (I hope that Mrs. Mann found someone else to speak French with and improve her pronunciation of the word ‘’feuille,’’ that Mr. Mroz still says his favorite sentence “Goooood morning! How are you today? I’m fine thank you,” that Mr Dapelo is still jumping on the school bank to animate his class of crime, law and society and that Mrs Michalak is still trying to help the American students pronouncing correctly the ‘’R’’ like real Spanish).

Even if it was hard sometimes to be far from my country and my family, I had the best year of my life in America with a lot of unforgettable meetings. I will never repeat enough, but if one of you have the adventurous spirit and want to discover the world, just do it and remember to come visiting me in Belgium! We only live once!


Pauline Dellamaria is a former BC student that visited from Belgium.