Okay, so. I'm sorry for not posting lately--I've had some technical difficulties with internet access.
This weekend I went to the AFS orientation that marks the halfway point in my exchange. Five months have flown by, and I'm glad I don't have to go home just yet. I feel like everything can only get better from here. (To any future AFSers, the answer to the year vs. semester question is very clear, to me anyway. Year, point final.)
At the orientation we did a bunch of activities to help us evaluate our relationships with our host families, at school, etc. During the weekend I have to admit that I didn't find any of it very helpful, partly because being with other AFSers always makes me homesick--with my host family I can forget I'm not at home, but when everyone is foreign, it's harder not to remember that I Belong somewhere else. But afterward, when I was back home, I realized that the orientation had been helpful without my noticing it. I've re-found my courage, and at school yesterday, I had the psychological energy to be more outgoing than I've been in a long time. So that's good.
The best part of the orientation, moral support aside, was--Ready? Okay. One of the exchangers had the idea to have everyone sing "Frère Jacques" ("...dormez-vous? dormez-vous? Sonnent les matines..." You know the song I mean, no?) in his or her native language. So now I've heard that song in Turkish, Czech, Chinese, German, Swedish, Italian, Thai, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Norwegian (and English and French). It was cool.
Also, the orientation was the first time I had seen some of the other exchangers since September, and Things had Changed. The shy kids were braver; the loud kids knew when to shut up; etc. And everyone was much more mature.
So, Go with AFS! It's good for you! (This week I signed up to promote AFS at school, so I might as well promote it on my blog too. I wouldn't if I weren't _entirely_ sincere. I really do believe that it's something everyone needs to do.)
And as a final shameless plug: Vote for me! I'm not running for president (yet), but my blog is in the running for the 100 best exchange blogs contest on http://www.lexiophiles.com/. So please vote for me! (Click on the icon in the top lefthand corner of my blog.)