August 11 Journal
It is officially my second day abroad, and I already feel at home with my new family. The weather is exactly what I love, cool but not too cold. Jet lag is setting in and right now it is 9 in the morning back home, but here it is almost lunchtime, 1 PM.
The traveling part was very smooth, no problems at all. During one of my layovers I managed to meet a young man who was sitting in the same terminal as I. We began talking and I found out that he was also an exchange student in Germany years before. While discussing numerous topics about going abroad, he managed to throw in some valuable advice, such as "Your stay at Christmas time will be one of the roughest points throughout your journey. Keep your head up and remember that it is normal to feel sad. Also, remember that these times too shall pass and you will be back on your feet in no time."
There isn't much else I can write except for that I am so excited for the next upcoming months. I am very grateful to Rotary for giving me this experience. Even though it is just beginning, I can tell it will be something I will never forget.
November 28 Journal
Part of me feels guilty for not writing for such a long time. I can’t believe it’s been almost four months here in Germany. The places I have visited have been absolutely beautiful. Everything I experience here is engraved in my memory, and I love thinking back to the things I did the week before. Already we had our first Rotary orientation. I have never met so many nice people at once; it was so refreshing to talk to other exchange students. The German is coming along quite well, in my opinion (I dreamed in German for the first time a few weeks ago).
School here is so different from Seabreeze. Our classes are different every day, and the schedules are very flexible. I like the way they have their classes here, I just wonder how it’ll be when I go back to the same schedule every day 7:30-2:45. Everything is different, and it’s nice to come across something that I’m familiar with. The teachers grade differently (50% speaking aloud in class, 50% test scores) and it’s a little weird to me that we don’t have to turn in papers. They really have the honor system in their schools. I’ve experienced quite a bit: Carnival, traveling to various parts of Germany, etc. The weather is kind of a drag though. I saw the sun yesterday for the first time in God knows how long. It’s interesting coming from a place where the sun shines every day to a grey sky and cold air.
My family here is such a good match for me. There’s something in each family member that is so comforting and I feel right at home with people I’ve only known for three months. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I am half way across the world. Often times I catch myself thinking that I’m on vacation someplace out west in the U.S., but then I remember that that’s not the case at all, and I’m glad that it isn’t.
It’s sort of surreal to me how easily everything is going so far. No rough patches have really hit yet, excluding my 2 hour detour home. I feel like I’m starting to change, in a good way. I am able to think about certain things differently than I did before. I’ve made mistakes and learned how to fix them. My skills under pressure have increased greatly. If I’ve felt overwhelmed or uncomfortable in a situation where I shouldn’t I have learned to adapt. Everything so far seems to fit like a glove, being optimistic most likely helps also.
I’m at ease with my decision to go abroad. I think that the things I will experience here will shape me into a completely different version of myself. I hope that everyone else is having as good of an experience as I am!
February 9 Journal
Looking back on my old pictures from the past 6 months here in Germany, I’m starting to already miss my year here. The time goes by so fast. Constantly writing out daily doings helps to recall somewhat, but it’s just not the same. The real friends that have come into my life since being here remind me. I don’t even want to think about leaving. I know that it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life probably. Leaving the knot untied to whether I’ll see all of my friends again, it’s a terrible feeling. But I do as much as I can with what I have, and the time that is left.
I feel like I’m really developing as a person. I feel so different here, and I know that the people I have met and will meet are going to affect me for the rest of my life; in a good way. My memories keep me positive for the days ahead when I feel the slightest bit homesick, which might I add has only been once or twice. I can’t really say if I’m shocked by this. I feel like I fit so well here in Germany.
Coming from “the sunshine state”, and living in never ending bleakness has taken some getting used to. It’s difficult not seeing the sunshine for days on end, but that makes the days endowed with sunlight that much sweeter.
As for the German: I’m progressing every day. I wouldn’t say fluent yet, but I’m on the path towards it. I understand everything, and butcher the language when I speak. Being surrounded by natives is definitely a plus, not only to keep the language fresh in my mind, but to have constant help when I need it.
I didn’t realize how popular it was to go on an exchange year in Europe. I can say that majority of my German friends have lived a year abroad, which makes conversations more understandable when talking about my difficulties. There are 7 other exchange students at my school, all of which have become my closest friends. We assist each other with things that others couldn’t help with, and understand where the other is coming from even if we’ve only known each other for 4 months.
I have so many things rushing through my head that I can’t seem to grab onto one of them and write it out for you to read. I’ll just sum up my past 6 months here in one word: wunderbar!!