One of hardest cries I’ve ever had in my life…

  • Name: Lilian Kennedy
  • Destination: Austria
  • When:
  • Hometown: Los Angeles area
  • Organization: AFS

A Reflection on Departing.  March 2004, by Lilian Kennedy, AFS LA to AUSTRIA

Lilian Kennedy

"Give me back my AFS people, my memories, my heart."


I had to leave Austria July 9th (my host mom’s birthday).  It was one of the most sad and painful parts of my exchange.

Every single person was crying.  Every single one.

Guys, girls, counselors, families, everyone.   I think that was one of hardest cries I’ve ever had in my life, the tears just would not stop and I hugged my host sis and dad so so hard, I didn’t want to let go.

I knew in heart that it was time for me to go home, but it was just so hard to let go, to just leave behind this life and all the people in it.  The night before I had said goodbye to a lot of my friends, including my two best ones, Kathi and Simi, and we cried so hard too.  It was so painful.

Lilian Kennedy, Austria, AFS

Lilian Kennedy, Austria, AFS


I felt mad at AFS, like I wanted to kick and scream and scratch it.

In the brochures and information packets the exchange was described as this amazing experience, all smiles and wonderfulness.  It was almost like I was lied to.  I never got a real warning for this pain, the leaving part.  No one told me how your exchange claims a part of your heart and never lets go.  Or how badly it hurts when you had to leave the home of that part of your heart.

And now, I am so glad.

A lot of people are afraid of emotional pain and risk; Austria and my exchange cured me.  I don’t know if my pre-exchange self would have done my exchange if I had known what was in store for me those six months.  I don’t know if my pre-exchange self could have comprehended the times of just incredible and surreal beauty either though.

Those moments were so pristine and transcending I will never forget them, or could ever forget them.

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