Sunday, July 19, 2009

Im home

Well as most of you know by now, because you have probably seen me around town, i am home. Kendra Wagner is back in the USA, back in Wisconsin, and back in Monroe. Some times i don't believe it either so if its hard to believe that after a whole year in Italy I'm finally home, don't worry because well its something that is kind of hard to wrap your mind around.

Its not easy to get from Europe to the United States. Well wait, now that i think about it it is fairly easy if you compare the journey to back when planes didn't exist. when you had months on a cold, uncomfortable boat. but even if the journey is a relatively easy one it is a very LONG journey.

My long, long travels started on the morning of July 4th (much like i said in the post before this one) when my host dad and my host sister took me to the airport. well the Italian time perspective lasted right up until the last day of my stay in Italy. we were the first family that showed up at the airport. before AFS before everyone. that was one thing i was happy about. getting back to a country where people will be there when they say they will be and OMG they might, just possibly, be there 5 minutes early. we waited for the other families to get there and every time someone got there you saw the sadness in their eyes, faces and body language. and it wasn't even just the kids, it was the families as well. this good bye was not just hard for us, it as just as hard for our families. i realized something that morning: we are not the only one that had a unique, hard, amazing, confusing, wonderful, scary, happy experience, our families had the same type of experience that we had. i realized that when i saw that: wow its not just us that are sad that we are leaving all of our families are losing something as well. they are losing daughters and sons that they became so close to. they don't know just like us when we will see each other again. its not only hard for us, its hard for them as well.

Well all of us kids we did our check in. let me tell you that was the first hard thing we all did. we had to get our bags weighed. let me tell you that is stressful when you know that there is a good chance that our bags will be over weight and what will we do if it is over weight? well i got lucky and my bags were underweight :) once we went though check in we had to go through security. that was one of the hardest things that i have ever done. i had to officially say good bye to my family. it was SOOOOOOO HARD!!! we all hugged and said goodbye and said that this wouldn't really be good bye. it was so hard. i cant imagine telling you how hard it was to say goodbye to them because there are no words to explain the feelings that us exchange students go through in that moment. only other exchange students can understand what i am explaining. its like there is a giant balloon in your chest that is slowly leaking air leaving you with a big whole in your heart and chest that you have no idea how long its going to take to fill or if you will be able to fill it again. and that doesn't even come close to how it feels but that's about all i can think of to describe the pain and hurt.

getting on the plane i knew that i was leaving my Italian life forever. i had been thinking about it for a long time but in that moment it was real. it was real that my Italian life was leaving me forever and i wouldn't be able to get it back. well the flight to Rome went by very quickly and we got through everything and we got our bags. no ones bags got lost so that was good. but just as we were about to go out and meet the volunteers all of the kids from Sicily got to the airport so that was like a reunion with kids we had not seen in months and months. it was amazing. we waited for them to get there bags and then we all got packed in to buses to go to the hotel. it was MAJOR deja vu. we took the exact same route that we took when we got to Italy but this time we were leaving. it was like going around a circle exactly. like we were finishing the experience exactly the same way that we started it. it was a cool feeling but still sad. we knew that these were some of the last things that we would see of Italy. well we got to the hotel and we and we got our room numbers. we all threw our stuff in our rooms and we then ran to lunch. literally ran because there was only 20 minutes left of lunch and we were soo hungry. we all knew that our room numbers were pointless as soon as we saw our name tags. the Americans were group 1. which meant that we were the FIRST group to leave, we were going to be the first people to have to leave the hotel and say goodbye to everyone. and the worst part it was at 330 am. which meant that we were NOT going to be going to bed because it was our last night together and i was NOT going to waste that night sleeping. no way!!!

We were one of the first groups to get to the hotel so we waited and about every hour or so another group of students from all over Italy would show up. it was one of the coolest things that i have ever experienced because we got to see all of these kids that we had not seen in over 10 months. it was soo cool to all be able to see each other again and see how we had all changed and how everything was different but we were all still able to make friends so easily. the coolest thing was however. was that this time we were not all speaking English, we were speaking Italian. it was the coolest thing ever because we were able all communicate in a language that we had all learned. we were all on an even playing field this time.

Well at about 630/700 was when the two buses that i was waiting for showed up with kids from Trento and the kids from Leece which was bringing me some close friends that i hadnt seen in 4 months (since my week exchange) for the rest of the night we went around talking to the people that we had grown to really really like for the last time in the near future. we were all desperately avoiding talking about going home and the inevidible ending that would be comming at 330 AM for alot of us (that is when the americans were going to leave) Oh and remember when i raved about the food 10 months agao when i wrote about the Rome orientation? well they either got a new cook or it sucked the first orientation too and we just didnt know lol.. because for this orientation it REALLY REALLY sucked. for the 15 hours that i was there (with no appetite because we were all so sad we didnt even want to eat) i lived on Apples. because they couldnt mess those up lol.

We all decided that we wouldnt go to sleep because we didnt want to waste the last few hours that we had together sleeping. whats an all nighter when its the last night you have together? so basically for most of us we hadnt slept all night the night before becuase we were sad, scared, excited, nervous, happy and a million other things at the same time that arent good for sleeping. then we didnt sleep that night so basically we were in for a very awake meeting with our families lol!! as the night went on it started to get colder and the mood got sadder and sadder as we all started to realize that in just a few short hours it would be over. about an hour before the Americans left we had to start getting our bags together and getting ready for the bus and the most dreaded thing:saying goodbye. we all started to gather in a HUGE group around the busses that had arrived and we started to say goodbye. it was the hardest thing that ive ever done in my whole life. i was saying goodbye to people that i had learned to really love over the last year and we were all crying sooooo hard. we gave out our last gifts and our last hugs that we may ever get from these friends and some of those hugs were the wettest saddest hugs that ive ever had in my life. then all of these sad hugs with volunteers are our necks saying "you have to go you have to go the bus is going to leave and you will miss your plane. and trust me that sounded like a good thing to some of us!!!

we got on the bus and i cried the whole way to the bus which was about 1 hour long. i sat with Efren (the boy from venezuela) and just cried we got to the airport and we got in to the line to check our bags which honestly was a big ordeal because for alot of people this was there first plane ride and they were worried about what there bags weighed but the airport workers were pretty lenient and they let us all pass though and we got to the plane. by this time most of us were still really sad but we were just ready to be home. we had accepted the fact that it was over (not that we were ready for that) but we were just ready to be at home with our friends and families at this point skip all the travel and just be there in our own beds and just not be on a plane. even though the plane that we had from Zurich to New York was VERY VERY nice!!! this time we only had about 1 hour in Zurich which was really nice becaue by the time we got there we were already going back though check in again. and this time we had a cool chaperone who just let us do what we wanted and was pretty chill.

On the plane we all tired to sleep watch movies and just waste time as much as possible and to not think of what was going on and the fact that we were just leaving italy after a year, and how sad we were. There were some good movie choices and we all decided to watch our last badly dubbed italian movie. and i chose to watch "hes just not that in to you" and it was REALLY bad. I imagine it was bad in english well it was even worse in italian!! i love italian but they still arent good at dubbing movies. I would like to say the 8 hours passed quickly but it really didnt. We talked alot, slept, read books, watched movies and just tried not to think about leaving italy. We finally got close enough to see the USA on the map of the world that showed the planes path (which is really cool and fun to watch actually) and we started cheering (which made the other passengers look at us oddly because a group of 60 students just randomly started cheering) then when we did finally land we started clapping, cheering and saying WE'RE HOME!!!!!!! which again got us odd looks from other passengers. when we got off of the plane we had to go through customs in the usa. they gave us a sheet to fill out about stuff we had with us in our bags then we had to wait in a line where we handed the workers this paper, then get our bags (which took FOREVER) then get in another line and have them stamp our passports and then go wait for everyone else to get through that line.

There were alot of kids parents there waiting for them which was nice for them because they didnt have to go on another plane like all of the rest of us. afs gave us there last speech "be good in the airport, have fun and you did it you did your year congratulations" and they let us go our separate ways. so i made my way to delta and went through security again (which was really starting to get annoying) and then set in to wait my 4 hours for my plane to Milwaukee. in the begining i just walked up and down the delta waiting area which is pretty big then i ate burger king. which i know exciting first meal in the states right? well not so much i didnt really eat it but i knew that i needed to eat something cuase i had no idea how much time it had been since i had last eaten so i knew that i needed to eat. but it didnt really work very well lol.. well after that i saw another girl that had an AFS luggage tag so i decided to go up and ask her were she went. it turns out that she had just gotten back from belgium and was headed back home to California. we talked for about 2 hours until i had to board my flight.

My flight to milwaukee went really really fast surprsingly. it was only about 2 hours long and it was on a VERY small pane. i was in the 12th isle and it was the last isle on the plane lol. with only 3 seats across the plane. when we got off the plane it was really exciitng because my Mom, dad and sister shannon were all there waiting for me along with 3 other AFS waiting families (there were 4 of us on the plane) then after getting a little lost getting out of the parking garage we got home fairly fast because there was no traffic at 9 pm going out of milwaukee.

That was pretty much my journey home now since ive been home ive been really busy trying to get ready for school and finish up all of my homework. but really this summer has been good. Ive been avoiding all things Italy just because its easier not to think or talk about it then it is to constantly talking about it. which is why i havent updated my blog or my pictures. in fact all of my italy stuff is sitting in bins and bags in my closet and all my pics still on pen drives that i have yet to touch now that im states side.

I would like to thank all of you for reading my blog and i really appreciate all of your support during my year it really had been an amazing expierence that i would not give up for anything in the world. thank you all!!

Grazie mille a tutti!!! Arrivederci!!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kendra, for taking the time to share so much of your year with us. I felt like I was living these experiences and emotions with you. Beautifully done.

Alexa Irvin said...

Aww Kendra that's so sweeettt:]
I felt like i was the one having this experience through your writing!
Im really excited to go when i get the chance!
Im still trying to figure out this whole thing works!
but great bloging:]

Marta said...

nice blog thank you ..marta from HUngary (i love italy soo much)

Oscar Carlsson said...

Hey! My name is Oscar Carlsson (From Sweden) and I was an Exchange Student 2001- 02. Now I'm makeing a website for other exchange students. I've just started. See the result at:

But I think you blog is awesome and I would really like to talk to you. I'm NOT working for a company or something like that. is only a fun project to help other young people. I had such a great experience in the US that I want to help others.

Please send me an email:

Or add me on msn:

Talk to you later.

Oscar Carlsson

kseniya said...

I am Kseniya from Russia. I and my mum will be a family this year! We are very happy_)We will wait you, I hope that we will well spend this year!
Do not miss_)

Kendra said...


Hi!! I am very excited to come to Russia too! Do you have email or MSN? my email is and my MSN is ... Thank you so much for contacting me!

María D'Alessandro said...

absolutelly amazing

Zoila said...

It is so wonderful to hear your experiences and story about your journey in Italy... It is always nice to be back home. No matter how beautiful the places you've been nothing compares to be home and to be with family, relatives and friends. One year is too long to endure although the experience in Italy was really great.

Randall said...

It’s always so inspiring to hear about other students’ experiences with study abroad. There is no better motivation I can think of! Thank you Kendra for sharing your story…

silbador said...

Para la gente a la que le interese leer estudios Bíblicos y conocer más acerca de los acontecimientos actuales a la luz de la Biblia visiten:

Per chi vuole leggere studi biblici e saperne di più sugli eventi attuali alla luce della Bibbia vai a:

For people who want to read Bible studies and learn more about current events in light of the Bible go to:

För människor som vill läsa Bibeln studier och lära sig mer om aktuella händelser i ljuset av Bibeln gå till:

Comunidad de la Biblia

Sarah Boelter said...

That made me cry.

Now I have a glimpse of what the end of my exchange will be like :/

Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Hi! I love your blog and your exchange experience stories. I'd like to inform you about an intersting project... Could I have your contact?

Rachael Ramsey said...

Hi Kendra, my name is Rachael. I just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog. I am going to be spending this year on Sardegna, in a town called Ilbono. I leave in a little longer than a month, and this blog actually really helped me out. Thank you :)

medicivalencia said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with us! It has been really inspiring and it has encorauged us to live abroad.

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Roselyne Fortin said...

Hey! I don't know you and you don't know me, but I find your blog and me too, this summer, I'll participate in a summer exchange with AFS during 6 weeks in Italy. So, I was wondering how you find Italy when you went there in 2009 even if you've been there 10 months and that I'm only going for 6 weeks. So, thank you for your time and sorry if my english isn't that good but I'm a french native so I've a bit of difficulty with english.. Have a nice day! Roselyne :)

KC said...


My name is KC Owens, I’m a college student and I love to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts. I have been to countries all over Europe with just my backpack and a camera. Since I am a college student and I have significant bills, it can be difficult to find ways to travel the world. However, I have done this several times, with less than ten pounds of luggage and while on a college dime!

I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your site to share my tips and tricks with your readers. I put a lot of time into my traveling, it is my biggest passion and I would love to inspire others by sharing my stories, mistakes and triumphs. I look forward to hearing from you!


KC Owens