Am Samstag fliege ich nach Deutschland.
Of course I had to choose a program that starts during finals week. Every day is packed tight from 8am to 11pm. I make sure to pack the essentials–classes, lunch, work, orientations, studying–and I stuff the rest in the open corners–clubs, friends, internet, procrastination. It’s getting down to the wire and I have this small pocket of time to write.
I have tried to fit in the time the past two weeks, but preparing for international travel at the end of the quarter is exhausting. I’ll be settling in at my new home in Heidelberg one week from today. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that this is happening and I made it happen. Maybe it’s because I feel so unprepared despite a lot of careful planning. You can only make so many lists.
I will be learning a new language in a country mostly foreign to me (my 2 weeks abroad in high school seems hardly enough time to become acquainted with the culture). I have taken a year of German and am now jumping into 2 months of immersion. I am not looking forward to awkward introductions. I cringe inside imagining meeting my host family, my teachers and classmates, being incredibly aware of how incompetent I will sound in a different language.
I wonder how much I will recognize or how different it will look with some German under my belt. How different will announcements blaring from speakers sound? Will my mind be too full of fog to translate and understand what I hear when I arrive? I am excited to hear the language outside the walls of Miller Hall here at WWU, but I worry about my own voice.
I swallow my ‘r’s rather than allowing them to roll out of my throat. Awkward silence fills the classroom when I am asked a question. I find myself scrambling to translate it in my mind and formulate an acceptable response. It’s incredible to confront your own language and realize how complex the simplest-looking sentences become when you have to decode them. I am ready to learn how to overcome the awkward silences and insecurity of learning a new language. If I have my way, German will be the the first of several languages that I master in my lifetime.
It is also a goal of mine to keep up this blog alongside a travel sketchbook. I’ve been preparing for these by brushing up on some nonfiction writing, attending events at the university–such as an encouraging alumni panel–and drawing, drawing, drawing. My design course this quarter has been inspiring, and I want to put it all to practice this summer. To be able to capture scenes from my experiences in Germany and elsewhere with my own hands on some cheap paper is all I could ask for.
While I feel decently prepared to tackle these goals, I worry that tiredness will conquer my motivation. I was jetlagged and exhausted my entire high school trip, and I don’t want to make the same mistake of skipping journal entries. I want to learn how to learn from mistakes more effectively this summer.
This 3-day weekend couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I moved out most of my things from my apartment with the help of a good friend, and now I need to focus in on cultural research for my final projects. I regret that I have not yet taken the time to do some serious research on German culture and politics, so I will be incorporating it into my schoolwork (I like efficiency).
So here’s to hoping that I survive finals and make it to Germany with some of my sanity left. Expect a post next week flavored with jetlag and sketchbook scribbles. I’m excited to see the person I will have become by the end of the program, unpolished posts, sloppy sketches, awkwardness and all.