You wouldn’t want to swap this summer with me…

I was talking to a friend and suddenly, I don’t know how we got to the topic, she said she’d rather have had my summer than hers. Fast forward: 45 min later I’m still thinking about that. It kind of hit me, in a way this can still hit me.
You know what I’ve been through this summer. Now, her summer wasn’t fun either. She had to retake five heavy exams, so she basically had one week of holiday before the new academic year started again. That sucks a whole lot.

But swapping with me? I don’t think she knows how hard it was. I mean, of course, it’s something kind of unusual, and I don’t think you can really understand it unless you’ve been through it yourself. It’s a first world problem for sure, but having your big dream being shattered in front of your eyes while standing there powerless affects so much more than many people think.

First of all, I’ve been working an entire year for it. I sometimes locked myself inside, I had a minimum social life, just to make sure I’d get good grades and no retakes so I could go to Russia. There were problems from the very beginning with the exchange program, so we’ve been living an insecure life for a few months. Waiting, waiting and never knowing when we would finally know more.
I had no plans during the summer, because I didn’t know when I could go for visa and when I could leave. I didn’t go on a holiday. She did, during the week holiday she had. But I was at home, three long months I spent at home. Every single day.

During July I worked every weekday. That was sometimes hard, but it was okay, and I still thought that things would turn out fine. But in August, the stream of bad news sucked me in and wouldn’t let me out until the end of that month. I couldn’t do anything. I could barely meet up with anyone, because I tried to save my trip to Russia, there could be something happening every moment, I was mentally stand-by all the time. Sleeping got more difficult. And bad news, one after the other. Never a positive note.
I was powerless. I did what I could, but in the end that was not much. When you have to rely upon other people, you can only try to push them to do it faster. But everything went so slow, so slow… And I did my best, I did my best, I tried so hard, but it was in vain. I had no control.

During September, everyone seemed to be busy. Busy going on holidays, busy retaking exams. Trying to meet up with someone was hard, and I didn’t know what to talk about anymore. I could only think about Russia, about what I still had to do, about what went wrong. It controlled my mind, and I felt so bad about it that I wasn’t so keen on talking to people anymore. I could only give them bad news, and I couldn’t take hearing too much happy news from their side. Of course I was happy for everyone having a good time, but I couldn’t handle it too often.

It affected way more, it wasn’t just a lonely, frustrating summer. I was genuinely scared of staying in Belgium. I knew I would be left behind while everyone would be abroad having a good time. Staying here meant staying in these old patterns, staying in this old shit. The old shit I wanted to get away from so desperately. It got so bad that I couldn’t look in the mirror without thinking about how ugly I was. I was convinced that I would be alone forever. That everything could only get worse and worse. That no boy or man would ever get to like me.
I knew that this too was an effect of all the bad things happening. I knew that I wouldn’t have stared into the mirror thinking ‘my forehead is so huge!’ if I would have known everything was alright and I could leave in time. It took over my life and sucked out what was still good, it seemed. Try staying positive when you didn’t have any positive news in months. Try staying positive when your big dream gets taken away, piece by piece, with you standing next to it, unable to do anything about it. Try to stay positive when you know that what will come is three months of isolation and loneliness. I was the only one who ended up staying here. Everyone else left, even though I was the first one to point out that something wasn’t right, even though I was the one who immediately jumped on it to fix things. But everyone left. And I didn’t.

As you may remember, it felt like a punishment, in a way. I felt like I must have done something wrong in order to deserve this series of bad luck. Maybe someone was playing a sick joke on me. Maybe someone was testing me, to see how much bad news I could take before snapping. Maybe I deserved this all, but in that case, what did I do wrong?

When we singed the contract for my room in the city of my university, I cried. It made everything definitive. All the effort, all the work, everything I had done in order to save it, it was finally definitely clear that it was all in vain. I’ve wasted a summer, an entire summer for nothing at all.

This sounds very dramatic, but at that point, this was really how it felt. It felt this heavy. Even at this point I get tears in my eyes upon writing this down. It still hurts.

In the end she had one more course she now retakes, and my semester wasn’t as lonely and desperate as I expected, luckily.

But swapping the summer with me, I don’t think she really wants that. I wish this upon no one. The best proof of that is the fact that I’m sitting here trying not to cry. Even after all these months…

Not to say I would have loved her summer, because that one sucked so hard too. And I’m not mad at her for saying this or something. She really doesn’t know the extent of this plan failing. Just to point out that this was and still is something that cuts deep.

Leave a comment


  1. Always sucks when things don’t come together!

  2. so sorry your summer was so bad. Truly, nobody but you knows how hard it is and not everybody has the gift of being able to walk in someone’s shoes. I can imagine how frustrated it must be for you.

    I know it sounds lame right now but later on, you will be rewarded for all your hard work

    • Of course my friend probably had more on her mind as well, and I don’t want to judge which summer was worse, but I am convinced that she wouldn’t have been better off with mine…

      I hope so! There have been some good things about staying here as well. They will never make up for all the failure, but it wasn’t all as bad as I imagined it to be πŸ™‚

  3. You have had such a rough time – it is really really hard to watch a dream turn to dust and to be absolutely helpless to keep it together. You have coped remarkably well and it is clear from your heartfelt writing that you have had to muster every ounce of courage and strength in your make-up to get back on the conveyor belt this Autumn. Your friend is tactless and clearly lacks empathy (dare I say she needs to grow up?!) Your time will come. You have worked so hard and you will get what you richly deserve. In the meantime, I send you cyber hugs to a stranger because sometimes it is the kindness of strangers that is the most comforting πŸ™‚

    • Aww thank you! πŸ™‚
      I was convinced that staying here would be terrible, but in the end it turned out to be quite okay. Not fun, but not as horrible as I thought either. So that helped me coping with it for sure! But yeah, it’s been very hard sometimes, and it still hits me hard every now and then…

      Well, I don’t my friend lacks empathy, but I think she really doesn’t know how it affected me. On the other hand, she had five heavy exams and a lot of pressure, that definitely sucks so much as well. I can probably not imagine what it felt like for her either.
      And barely anyone knows how bad I felt because I didn’t want to talk about it. So I don’t blame her, but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have wanted my summer still πŸ™‚

  4. It has been rough, A. But looking back – did it not make you stronger? Did it not teach you many lessons and gave you loads of insight?
    I am not asking you to look on the bright side, as I know how frustrating it is when plans fail. I am advising you to accept the person the situation made you to be πŸ™‚ x

    • You do have a point, and after all I’ve had very good moments here as well. It gave me the great insight that you should never rely on anyone.
      But that doesn’t take away that I had a shitty summer, and that I don’t think anyone would have wanted to swap. With this post I kind of wanted to point out that it affects way more than one could think.

      But by now it’s somewhere deep inside again and I’m not always sad about it πŸ™‚ I’m planning on writing a post about what staying here brought me – the good things!

  5. On the other hand, no one ever quite realizes how hard other people’s problems are.
    Not to lessen anything you’ve gone through, but it would be easier for her only because it wasn’t her, if that makes any sense.

    • Yeah, I know what you mean. That’s why I wouldn’t say my summer was worse, but I just think that my summer wasn’t better than hers. She wouldn’t have been better of.
      And in the end this also shows how hard it can still hurt me to even think about it :/

  1. But there was good stuf too | No Blog Intended

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