By: Ricarda Hofer
After three years, I am lucky to have the possibility to come back to McMaster and experience, once again, what I loved about it – so open-minded, welcoming and cheerful (and no, I did NOT come back during frosh week)!
I do not feel sad, uneasy, or regret coming back to McMaster. My time in Hamilton was fulfilling; hilarious, breathtaking, and unique. I would not want to alter that in any way. I am grateful for my experience, just the way it was – as it was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. The memories and precious friendships I made, I will take with me and enjoy them for the rest of my life.
Reliving my exchange was not the point of my visit.
This felt like the perfect time in my life for my return. It marks my last big vacation before starting a new chapter in my academic career – as I have now started my master thesis. I knew some familiar faces would still be around Hamilton, starting their new academic and professional careers. Many of my Canadian friends have moved to Toronto, Kitchener and Waterloo, all beginning new chapters in their lives.
When I was welcomed back at McMaster, I felt at home. Although Jenna did not recognize me straight away – after I spontaneously walked into her office and hugged her – her second “welcome-back” hug was well worth it! We had a nice talk, where I updated Jenna in my life.
Coming back was a treat before this crucial point in my life. Just like my friends, I have moved on from my exchange, but I always stay in touch. I studied at McMaster for four months back in the fall of 2014 and still see my Austrian friends, that I came to know through exchange, and many other international exchangers.
In German we have a wonderful saying: Don’t be sad that it’s over – be happy that it was! I only have one thing to add to that, that I am happy that it is! My exchange experience will always stay with me. It is with me in my memories, my actions, and how I see the world – through a new lens of understanding people. I have a love for this wonderful time in my life. It is among the best of my life, so far!
Ricarda participated in the McMaster Exchange Program in 2015 as an incoming exchange student.