BY ANNA SAMS
The clock is tick, tick, ticking as it has been for all 19 years, 103 days and 39 minutes of my life, but I’ve never pushed so hard against the relentless hands as I am right now.
The feeling is something indescribable, something my own brain has difficulty sorting out. Now, when I tryto think about the past year, I can honestly say that my mind is drawing a blank. But yet it is the most overwhelming and meaningful blank my mind has ever drawn.
One year. It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. But for once, the grand scheme doesn’t matter. For now, it’s only my scheme that’s on the table, and for me, one year is everything. Trying to illustrate my experiences of my time in Denmark in words would be impossible, and I’m sure that every exchange student in the world would agree with me on that.
But there’s something special about that; because it can’t be expressed through words or gestures or what have you, it becomes a deeply personal concept, that lives only within me and in my memories. Try as I might to share the experiences and emotions that have characterized this year, I will never be able to communicate it on a level that does justice to what I feel in my head and in my heart.
The memories of happiness and of pain, of joy and of love, bring a smile to my face and a tear rolling down my cheek. I’ve grown so much this year, from a giddy and excited high schooler, fascinated with the world behind closed doors, to a wiser and stronger person who found a way to pick the lock.
After a year in Denmark, I gained more than just better taste in music and fashion. This year has given me a gift, the kind that never wears or goes out of style. This gift I’ve received is the confidence to get where I want to go in my life.
Before exchange, I couldn’t help feeling like a pawn in someone else’s game. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great life, but I still felt as though I was stuck on a conveyer belt that would carry me all the way to my death bed. And the scariest part was, I had no idea how to get off.
Or maybe I did know, but I was just too afraid. The road to independence is long and tiring, as trying as it is rewarding. It started with a crawl, in my rough first months in Denmark, longing to go back to what I knew, a sort of withdrawal.
Then came the first staggering steps, trying to hold footing on unstable ground as my new life continued to knock me down with blows from every direction. Soon after followed a period of calm, a leisurely stroll in the springtime air, where everything fell into place in a separate peace.
And now, as my time here is drawing to a close, I’ve begun to run. My feet are carrying me faster than I knew I could move, toward an unsure destination, but the uncertainty isn’t what matters here.
What matters is that the destination is truly my own, and that I am finally free, and I owe it all to Denmark.
No matter how difficult things get, I know I’ll always have that wind at my back.
To those of you who have been following my columns throughout the year, or even those who are just tuning in now, I want to thank you for your support.
Though exchange is a journey of self-discovery, no one would ever make it through completely alone. I want to give a shout-out of support to every current and past exchange student out in the big, wide world, because until now, I could never appreciate them for the strong and incredible people they are for surviving a crazy year like this.
And to all of the aspiring students out there, may you have the best of luck, and I hope with all my heart that your experiences are just as eye-opening as mine, or even better.
A lot can happen in a year, and through the tears and smiles, laughs and cries, I know I’ll never be the same. As I’m readying myself for the return home, I can only imagine what awaits in store at the turn of the page.
Thank you again to my family and hometown for all their support!
ANNA SAMS returns to Cooperstown on June 16.
BY ANNA SAMS
- Local News
Progress to be focus of Relay for Life speech
The American Cancer Society is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. During those years, cancer has transformed from deadly to treatable and from treatable to preventable.Continued ...
Miller's farewell includes final budget presentation
Robert Miller ended his tenure as school superintendent at Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School with some fanfare, some smiles and his typical presentations and opinions.Continued ...
Rotary Club seeks nominations for Christopher J. Warrell Community Service Award
The Cooperstown Rotary Club will be presenting the 2013 Christopher J. Warrell Community Service Award at its annual dinner on June 26, but first needs to find a recipient.Continued ...
Cherry Valley Artworks ready for another season
Summer is almost here and for the third year in a row, Cherry Valley will host young opera artists who perform at Glimmerglass as part of the The Glimmerglass Festival Artist in Residence Program.Continued ...
CCS seeks community input on technology
The Cooperstown Central School District is seeking community input through an online technology survey.Continued ...
Cherry Valley men face gun, pot charges
Four Cherry Valley residents were arrested on assorted gun and other charges following a weeklong investigation that was conducted by the Otsego County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division, Otsego deputies said.Continued ...
The Cooperstown Art Association is expanded
The CAA has opened a second facility, the CAA Big Red Annex Art School, at 5 Railroad Ave. The opportunity was made possible through the generosity of Butch and Mary Welch of Middlefield, according to a media release.Continued ...
Planting Days event to kick off museum series
Planting Days: A Spring Celebration, first in a series of "Step Back in Time" Weekends, will offer the opportunity to celebrate spring as it was done in the 1840s from 10 am. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19.Continued ...
Growing Community is gearing up for gardening
As the growing season kicks off, Growing Community is offering to assist novice gardeners with planning and establishing backyard (or container) kitchen gardens through its Garden Raising program. A Garden Raising, like an old-fashioned barn raising, brings many hands and much camaraderie to what can otherwise be a daunting task, according to organizers.Continued ...
Festival to celebrate Iroquois culture
New demonstrations and artists will expand the Iroquois Cultural Festival, which is in its second year.Continued ...
County to lose its economic playmaker
After more than 12 years on the job, Otsego County Economic Developer Carolyn Lewis announced she will be leaving her position Aug. 9 in order to devote more time to raising her three children.Continued ...
- Friday, May 10, 2013
Talking Opera evokes enthusiasm for the season
When something is unfamiliar or complicated, the more apt someone is to steer away from it. That is exactly what the members of the Glimmerglass Opera Guild do not want people to do when they think about going to see an opera performance.Continued ...
- Thursday, May 9, 2013
Cotillion not just a dance
Cooperstown Central School students have been entering the ballroom at the Otesaga Hotel to the sound of a band playing the foxtrot for 56 years. They are lined up from tallest to shortest dressed in formal wear as they prepare for the big night -- a junior ballroom dance called Cotillion.Continued ...
Middlefield drilling ban upheld
The Otsego County town of Middlefield and the Tompkins County town of Dryden -- along with the principle of home rule -- scored major victories, with the state Appellate Division issuing twin rulings that uphold their trail-blazing bans on natural gas drilling.Continued ...
Winning teams in Bassett's Go Red Challenge announced
The Division of Cardiac Surgery at Bassett Medical Center recently announced the winners of the UpClose Cardiac Surgery program's first l Go Red Challenge held in January and February of this year.Continued ...
Teen's video project coming to life
A Milford Central School senior, Spencer O'Bryan, has begun sharing news about the local community on a video magazine called the "Milford Montage."Continued ...
Concert has been rescheduled
The Black Crowes concert has been changed to Sept. 5. All tickets purchased for the July show will be honored at the event.Continued ...
Five Hall of Famers to serve as judges for coin design competition
Five Baseball Hall of Famers will help select the design of the coin that will commemorate the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.Continued ...
'All Things Small In Nature' photo contest announced
Otsego Land Trust and Butternut Valley Alliance are sponsoring a photo contest for 2013 titled "All Things Small in Nature."Continued ...
Lakefront Concert Series lineup set
The lineup for the ninth annual Cooperstown Lakefront Concert Series has been released.Continued ...
- Progress to be focus of Relay for Life speech