A year ago from today’s date I wrote my first blog post on this website, and began what was for me an experience of a lifetime. I know that I would have wanted myself to write a post a year later discussing the reality of what it was like and having a comparison of what I thought it would be like. So I came up with the idea of taking my first blog post, and dissecting the post piece by piece to give a commentary on it having almost completed my abroad experience.
So here we go…
“Today marks the first day of my last week in America, what a weird time it is for me! The reality of me moving out of the country did not hit me until a few days ago, which felt like a combination of excitement and extreme nervousness for the unknown.”
Reading this sentence alone brings back memories of me writing this blog post in my bed at my parents house. I was about to do something I’ve dreamed my whole life doing, moving to the other side of the world and beginning a new life here. Man what a moment to be alive that was! Pretty soon I will have a similar mindset when I get ready to return home after over a year living in a different country, and am now more experienced in how to deal with these thoughts.
“I have a lot to look forward to and I know this is going to be the experience of a life time, but I still do have my worries and having not been to Germany before (well, at least outside of a layover at Frankfurt Airport) and not knowing what to expect is definitely a big deal to me.”
Before moving to Germany, I honestly knew so little about the country. I’ve obviously heard about the most stereotypical: for instance Oktoberfest, Bratwurst, and the Liederhosen. But when I got here I realized that only repersents really the Bavarian culture (which is great), but it shows that Germany has much more to offer than what I expected. Where I have been living (Baden Würrtemberg) there are so many awesome cultural traditions here that aren’t celebrated in other parts of the country, and in every state there is something unique in it’s culture as well.
“The little traveler in me is extremely excited to be living in an area with close proximity to so many countries and that means so much exploring to do (at least within my budget!). I am trying to figure out all the places I want to go and see while trying to stay within my budget, and I have at least found a few of those places that I can do for relatively cheap.”
A big reason why I wanted to live in Europe was because of the close proximity to so many world class cities. From London, to Paris and Rome all within about two hours of each other by flight. Many of these places are cities in which I wanted to visit my entire life (for instance: Rome was the top city on my list of places I wanted to go). This year, I got to do so much more than what I expected to visit and I was surprised by my conclusions. I found myself to like the cities that I had not really expected to visit (for instance Tallinn, Estonia; or Chefchaoen, Morocco) compared to cities that I have dreamed about visiting (for instance Rome, Italy; or Prague, Czech Republic). I also got to go to Africa, which is something I would have never expected visiting on a year abroad in Europe! Overall I am so grateful for the plentiful of oppurtunites that I had to explore Europe.
“Another thing I am extremely excited for is that I will be learning another language, which has been a dream of mine since I was a child.”
This is still something that I am proud of myself for, especially that I still push heavily toward fluency. I have always wanted to be fluent in at least two languages, and I knew the only way for me to make this possible is to move to a country where a different language is spoken daily.
“As they say in German: Ich kann ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen (I can speak a little German), so i’m hoping that for the first few weeks i’m there, I will be able to get by alright.”
I mean I did survive yes? But honestly I had little to no German knowledge at this point.
“I know once I’m done with my six week course (basically a boot camp in German), I will be a lot more comfortable with the language, so that is exciting for me.”
One thing I did not realize at this point is that learning a language is very difficult. Having not much experience learning another language in the past I figured that six weeks of the language boot camp would be sufficient to be able to get my way around Germany. I was totally wrong, it really wasn’t until I reached this point now in my language progression that I can defiantly feel more comfortable with the language, and even then I still get really nervous sometimes. My recommendation is to put yourself in that uncomfortable position as much as possible, I’ve been forcing myself to try to speak as much German as possible with other native tongue German speakers although they might also know English as well. Most likely than not they would be willing to help you out with your German, and then you will start to see the results come faster and faster.
“Now, this move is something that is way out of my comfort zone, moving 6,000 miles away for a year is a big deal. This move will be a growing experience for me, and I know it is very healthy to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while, so it is something I know that will work out perfectly.”
Getting away from home was exactly what I needed in this point in my life, I was very confused in many aspects and I needed to just get away and find myself. I still remember being in Moscow my first night away from the USA and freaking out about how I thought I made the wrong decision, and now I can look back at that moment and remember it as an important step in my process of becoming more independent. It also made me way more appreciative of the area I grew up in, southern California is one of the most amazing places in the world in general and I had little appreciation of it growing up there until I moved out. In a way it got me more excited to go back to San Diego, as I realized how the area has had an effect on me but I am also nervous to go back for other reasons. In general though, this whole idea of me getting out of my comfort zone allowed me to blossom into a more mature person and I will most definitely remember the things I learned abroad.
“One thing I was also very nervous about was me losing my friends from San Diego, this year I have made so many new valuable friends and one my biggest fears about this whole trip was that my friends would forget about me and when I come back they won’t want to be friends again.”
Yes it’s true, you won’t stay friends with everyone forever. I had a few unhealthy friendships at this time and I was very concerned about losing contact with them since I would be gone. This almost held me back to stay in San Diego but I am glad I did not let friends stop me from going. To be completely honest as well the people who I was most concerned about staying in contact with I don’t really talk to anymore and I’m doing way better now than before. So maybe it’s a fact that having good friends makes you happier in general.
“I have to remember that I will be making new friends while I am in Germany and the friends in San Diego who I am close with will stay in contact with me while I’m in Germany, so overall I do not worry about this anymore.”
Oh I was definitely worried about losing friends, so I don’t know why I would say that but in general this idea came true. The last couple months I have met so many new friends, real friends. I have been so grateful for the new people in my life I met through my time here and to me it seems like I met many friends who I will stay in contact with for years to come.
“With everything in consideration, all of the positives completely weigh out all of the things that make me nervous about the trip, and so I am ready for this new chapter in my life. I am going all in into this trip and will maybe I’ll end up liking Germany so much that I’ll want to move there! But for now, all I can do is be in awe of the experience that I am about to do, and be grateful that I have this opportunity in the first place.”
I literally had no idea what I was about to get myself into at this time, and little did I realize how much I would come to love Germany from this. I literally fell in love with so many things regarding the German culture, the German language, and the German people as well. It is the best way to get into my heritage because my family heritage is German (if you couldn’t tell by my last name) and I can’t express the gratitude I have to reach into it. Learning the language my family from way back then spoke is such a cool thing for me to be honest, and is a big factor for me to push towards fluency. Not only that but also I got to live my dream for a year. I got to travel all over Europe, I got to live in a foreign country, and I have contacts now with people from all over the world! If this blog teaches you one thing, it should teach you that going to live abroad is such a positive experience, and will change your life for the better.
Thanks for reading.