Today is the last day of my internship, and Sunday my apartment lease is up. I have momentarily postponed the inevitable by booking a trip to Venice & Rome, but on Sunday I will say Auf wiedersehen to my boyfriend and Germany. Now that I have no choice but to face the reality of leaving, I have come to accept it and realized what I’ve learned from the whole experience.
First of all, Europe is surreal. One of the best things I did was write a blog, because as I look through it I am filled with the emotions I had when I wrote it. I would have already forgotten details about the earliest parts of my trip to Bonn and Cologne, but now they’re here forever.
Second, you must bring a good camera. And keep good care of it. Theft is common in Europe, and carelessness is common in my life. Yes, I dropped my beautiful new camera and broke it. *cries.* Luckily, Ryan came and saved the day and left me his iTouch. Thanks, boyfriend.
Get to know the locals. Don’t be restricted to spending time with Americans, you can do that at home. I cherish the fact that I’ve met German students, and got to learn more about their lives and culture. Also, I spent my first three months in Germany, then I began exploring other countries. This was a great way to develop a routine and feel like Germany was my home.
Try everything. I never thought I would be eating a large curry-soaked sausage or paying to have fish suck dead skin off my feet, but hey, when in Europe. Also, raspberry beer is surprisingly tasty.
Take time for reflection. The time I’ve spent in Europe has enabled me to learn things I didn’t know about myself, such as I’m too stressed-out back home. Enjoy life, it’s brief.
Abandon your comfort zone. I was under the impression that living abroad would be like transplanting my life overseas. It wasn’t. It was a huge struggle, but the most rewarding one I’ve undertaken so far. I honestly feel like a different person because I learned how to live without the things I thought I needed, and I also feel stronger and more independant.
Leave a mark. One of the other interns I worked with told me I had changed his perception of Americans because of our friendship. I can’t explain how great that felt, because I was always a little insecure that I would be judged as an outsider. Just because we don’t have the same opportunities to become cultured and educated (or, many Americans don’t take them) doesn’t mean we can’t WANT to. And I do.
Realize how special life is, and celebrate it.
That’s what I have to say now about my time in Germany, and I hope it’s in some way helpful. One of the most valuable things I learned abroad is how much I can take. I’m just a person, I only need a small amount of things and people that make me happy to get by. What really matters is how you live your daily life.
I’ll sign in again to update you on my trip to Italy, but for now… Tschüss!