These last two weeks have been a blur. I went from discovering more things about my host country to saying my final goodbyes to it in what seems like an extremely short time. Now I am back home in Arlington, Texas, getting ready for the new school year.
My final week in Lüneburg was spent reminiscing and planning. Reminiscing about the previous 10 weeks of my life, during which I had created lasting memories, made new friends, and discovered a little bit more about myself. And planning for the future in which I hope I can incorporate the things I learned from my study abroad experience.
I plan to keep working on my German language skills because I would like to return to my host city one day and speak fluent German to the kind people who made me feel welcome 5,000 miles away from home.
I plan to keep being open to having honest conversations with anyone who is willing, because I now know how amazing and powerful such interactions can be.
I plan to one day help someone feel welcome in my homeland, just like countless people did with me during my time in Lüneburg.
However, despite having all these plans, I don’t think that I have actually fully gotten comfortable with the fact that I am back. A part of me still thinks that I will wake up in my bedroom in Germany, grab a quick breakfast at the train station bakery before boarding my bus, say “morgen” to the bus driver like I did every morning and head to my language class.
I’m going to miss the city, the people, my friends, the culture, and the language. Now that I am back, I don’t get to eavesdrop on native speakers at the grocery store in the name of improving my language skills.
As mentioned in my very first blog post, since Germany and the United States are both Western nations, there aren’t really stark differences that triggered any sort of culture shock. But my life here seems just a little more monotonous after having the opportunity to explore a country that has significantly more history than the United States. I can tell that I am now a little bit more curious now about other countries and how people of other nationalities live their lives.
I’m going to nurture this curiosity as much as I can by travelling more, learning new languages, and continuing to be open to people and to new experiences. In the meantime, I will be volunteering my time to my university’s study abroad outreach programs because I want more people to have the amazing opportunity that I did.
I will be graduating in December, after which I plan to attend graduate school for international relations. Also after the amazing experiences I had this summer, I think that I would like to try my hand at onstage storytelling and maybe get involved in an organization that uses the exchange of stories as a way to promote relationships among unlikely people.
The stage is set for something great, I just have to wait to see what plays out.