I remember hearing a few key pieces of advice before I left for Taiwan. “Study the language as much as you can”, “say yes to every opportunity” and “try the food before you ask what it is” to name a few. That being said, there’s one I wish I had been told. “Make the most of the short time you have”. Who would ever think that a full ten months could pass by so quickly? Time seemed endless. Yet, in the blink of an eye, I’ve come to the end of my time in taiwan. It’s difficult not to look back on the time that has already passed and think about what could’ve been. An extra trip to the night markets, or maybe a different hike with a beautiful view of the ocean. It’s a scary moment, one that I’m sure all exchange students have experienced at some point. It seemed like last week we arrived, and just yesterday reached the halfway point. Many friends have already gone home, returning to the comfort of friends, family, and food. In the final days, the goodbyes have reached a pace where it seems I’m at the airport more than I’m at home. The friends, those who we navigated the difficulties of exchange alongside, the ones we met such a short time ago, but know so well will all be separated. We will each be returned to our respective corner of this planet and our communication reduced to snapchats and skype calls.
I find it so difficult to put into words my thoughts and feelings as I write this. I would be lying if I said I am not scared to come home. I’m scared by the reality that I will no longer see my international friends on a daily basis. I’m scared by how my friends may have changed while I’ve been gone, also how I’ve changed while I’ve been gone. What scares me the most, however, is the thought that maybe I didn’t make enough of this experience. Could I have done more to immerse myself?
I see photos of exchange students who have already gone home, and a strange sensation washes over me. I see myself in two months, reminiscing on the memories of exchange, wishing I could still hang out with my exchange brothers and sisters. Yet, I am still here in Taiwan. I already feel the sadness of going home even though I have not yet made the trip. This period of exchange, I have come to realize, is more about questions than answers. Questions that may take months or years after exchange to answer.
Time is not just applicable to the life of an exchange student. We are more aware of time only because we are given a countdown from the very beginning. Everyone should still be mindful of our limited time. It’s a simple message: make the most of the days you have, the relationships you have built, and the beautiful things that make life great. Within 24 hours, I’ll be flying back across the pacific to my beloved home country, leaving behind my newfound home, Taiwan. Canada, I’ll see you soon.