It was the beginning of July, and I was at school in grade 11 when I met her. She was a German exchange student (my age) who would be staying in Australia for nine months. At first, I wasn't sure how to react to her arrival. Should I introduce myself and ask her lots of questions? Or should I just leave her be and let her settle in to our school first? There were lots of people crowding around her and she looked jet-lagged and anxious, so I chose the second option. However, at lunch time, out of all the groups in my grade, she chose my small group of girls to sit with, and what a moment that was!
I didn't realise it then, but her choosing us changed our lives.
Franzi is her name. She is the definition of sunshine. She has the sweetest smile and is always happy. To be honest though, initially, I never thought we'd become close friends. But by the end of the year, it seemed like she had always been a part of our group, which made it so incredibly hard when she had to go home to Germany.
Everyone was crying. It was the end of our Friday night youth, and she would be leaving the next day. It’s amazing to think how one person over nine months could have such a significant impact on my life.
We keep in touch every day, even though the time difference can be tricky! We usually chat via Instagram. She sends me photos (her school is a castle!), and I keep her up-to-date with everything that's going on over here. Sometimes at school, when the teachers aren't looking, my friends and I will try to Facetime her.
In a month's time, I will be going on a three-week exchange trip to Germany with my school and some friends, so I will see Franzi again. We are both very excited; we're counting down the days.
I'm sure we will keep in touch after the trip. We even promised each other we would invite each other to our weddings! And even though we're 8,983 miles apart, it feels as though she's in my heart, right now, and forever.
by Isabella Parsons