05:45 my phone rings. I pick it up groggy, physically awake, but mentally sound asleep. On the other line, 3,723 miles away, is my mother telling me that my flight got moved to that morning and I have to leave for the airport in one hour. I promptly hang up the phone, wake up my host parents to inform them of the latest news, and hastily pack the remainder of my things. I must note, however, that packing up all one’s belongings from the past 7 months is not a simple task when given less than an hour. My last moments in Switzerland were quite silent as I attempted to soak in the last sights, sounds, and smells of a country I had fallen completely in love with. I said a small goodbye to my host family’s home, to the town, to the local supermarket, to the mountains and the fields, to everything that I had grown so accustomed to over the past months. As I sat there, my mind wandered until resting upon one thought. This was not supposed to end this way.
July 4th, 2020. That was my intended return date. While I was away, I thought about what it would be like to come home again after 11 months. Seeing my family, my friends and just being back in Marblehead. Watching the fireworks for the 4th at Crocker Park, going on Neck Runs and taking in the ocean breeze on the causeway…just a typical Marblehead summer. Thinking about my return made me smile, dreaming about my “big return”. I suppose all good things must come to an end, however, returning on March 21st during the typical cold New England winter was not the end I had in mind.
My narrative is simply one of the hundreds like it. Another event COVID-19 has managed to wrap its filthy hands around and bring to an unfortunate and unexpected halt. Mine and many other exchange students’ experiences were brought to an end, just as the best part was about to begin. There was no other option, it was either come home now or play the waiting game. Over these past weeks, I have had time to reflect on my experience and the emotions that come with having this unexpected end, one that lacked closure. Most of us left with not much notice, having to hastily pack and rush to the airport. There was no time to say goodbye to our classmates, to our friends, previous host families, see the “sights” for the last time, and soak in the last memories of the foreign countries we had become honorary citizens of. However, I have now all the more reason and desire to return to Switzerland and experience the wonderful spring and summer in the mountains and the cows. It is not a goodbye, simply a see you later.