One day everything was normal, the next day we were notified of the need to do the quarantine and the social distancing. The pandemic stroke hard and without warning.
The new reality of life was there: quarantine, borders closing, different news from the government at every moment, fear, uncertainty, insecurity. Would I return home? Would I stay in Norway? It was a long time before I got the call informing me of the decision: I would return to Brazil.
Hugs not given
“News hurt. They hurt because of the hugs not given, the experiences not lived and the stories and smiles not shared”.
They hurt because leaving was not expected, not so early. They hurt. However those bad news put and end to the uncertainty and brought me back to close to my family.
Each part of the journey back to Brazil made me feel the weight of the distance that increased between me and that incredible experience that was left behind.
This all came to remind me how small I am in the face of God's plans. And how I have absolutely no control over my life. The words of James 4:13-15 sum up perfectly what it is to be an exchange student during the pandemic, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'."
Sad and yet grateful
I saw all my plans being frustrated right in front of me. In spite of that I am sure God's purpose prevails and that nothing escapes his plans. Therefore, I understand that returning home in chaotic times of constant change was a reflection of God's care for my life in the face of a pandemic situation. In times of anguish and sadness, I could rest in God, knowing that He is in control of everything and that only He knows the plans He has for me.
Gratitude for the things I have lived has gradually healed the wound caused by the "loss" of what never happened. Each moment of sadness revealed the importance that this experience had for me. And for this I am grateful.
Far and yet very close
“Being present doesn't depend on being physically there".
Life as an exchange student during the pandemic started in March in Norway and ended soon after that in Brazil. During this time, I was able to experience a new kind of care and learn that being present does not depend on physical presence. I was able to give support and receive support, diminish distances with countless video calls and live one day at a time. After all, I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I just take a deep breath and rest in the certainty that God knows and He takes care of everything.
Today, if someone asks me how I feel about living abroad even though my days as an exchange student were shortened because of the pandemic, there will be no other answer except this: "If I knew in advance that things would happen and end up that way, I would do everything again, without hesitating!".
Petra Lickfeld Brazilian, participant in Connect Exchange Program