McKenna wrote the below for the ISL High newsletter
When people ask me how I feel about leaving I am never sure what to say. I feel so many things, all of the adjectives at the same time.
I feel happy, sad, jealous, nostalgic, excited, scared, different, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. And sometimes even indigo. I feel like all the pigeons in all the subway tunnels in all the major cities in the world. It’s this conflict of emotions that makes it hard to put pen to paper to write this goodbye article.
I knew how I felt when I was leaving Minnesota: sad about leaving my friends, but excited about moving to Switzerland. I mean, who wouldn’t be excited? Most people I knew hadn’t traveled past Chicago, let alone Europe. How do I feel leaving Switzerland?
It is safe to say this place is my home now. Not my home away from home or any of that crap: it’s my home and the people of ISL are my extended family. I feel comfortable using the word family because that’s what this community has become for me. Especially the teachers, I attribute a lot of my growth academically and emotionally to them (shout out to Mr. Ribas and Mr. Kirby, who run the best student newspaper in the world). I know that in the middle of exam season it doesn’t seem like they care, but believe it or not our teachers want us to pass their classes. Every single teacher I have interacted with has pushed me to be the best that I can, and I appreciate all the work you put into teaching us.
Another important part of my ISL family is my Year 11 brothers and sisters. I can’t wait to see what the class of 2021 will do next. Just a couple pieces of advice before I go. You can do more than you think you can do, so believe in yourself. *throws glitter in the air* Come to each other’s aid, we are all raindrops and together we are an ocean. Finally, if you want to have any chance at overthrowing the current Wacky Week champions, start planning a month in advance, and include a couples dance part in the performance.
As I close this chapter of my life I will be losing a piece of myself – maybe that’s why I feel so conflicted? Because as I have adjusted to expat life, I made it a part of my identity and I’m leaving that behind. That is not quite right, it’s more like when I came into this experience I didn’t think I would change. I thought I would get some cool new memories, get taller, but that’s it. I didn’t realize the empathy I would gain, or newfound respect for all the third culture kids I’ve met. I thought I could slide right back into Minnesota like a puzzle piece, only the shape of me and my personality to change completely.
At the end of every day I do this reflection exercise called “rose, thorn, bud” in which you think about the best part of the day, your rose; the worst part of your day, your thorn; and what you are looking forward to next, your bud. And I want to go through that for my last three years.
Rose: The places I went and the people I met. To say I have become well traveled is an understatement. I have been to three new continents and around 15 new countries, but what matters more is the people I shared these experiences with. I will forever remember the London, Iceland, and Cambodia trips I took with my classmates. I haven’t even mentioned all of the amazing year 10, 12, and 13s that I have become friends with! Moving to Europe was cool, but trust me, the person reading this article is cooler.
Thorn: I never gave the guys in my year a fair shake. Sorry, dudes. I judged you guys unfairly, and have said some less than kind words. I now see that was wrong. In the past couple months I’ve gotten to know you better and you all have been supportive and kind to me. I think you all have a tough road ahead in the DP, but from what I’ve seen in the past few months I think you can rise to the occasion.
Bud: When a door closes, a window opens. Similar to how I felt when I felt when leaving Minnesota, I am sad to leave, but excited for what comes next. I am going to a new school that I’ve never been to before and I know no one there, and I am excited to start this process all over again. Meeting new people, awesome teachers, and creating new memories.
Thank you for an amazing three years, ISL. I will miss you. I will leave you with a quote that resonates with me.
“I’ll see you in another life. When we are both cats.” -Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky