Ich habe mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren.
Ich habe mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” –Marcus Annaeus Seneca
The eve of our departure is quickly approaching, and as always, there is just one more thing to be finished before we leave. Preparing months in advance sounds like a better idea with each day that passes. Our hotels have been booked, almost all of the gifts for our relatives have been gathered, and I’m giving the cats extra attention to try to make up for my upcoming four months leave of absence.
Totsiens means “goodbye” in Afrikaans, but I suppose “until next time” is what I’m really hoping for. These past couple of weeks have been absolutely amazing. Due to frantically finishing class assignments and then an incredible Garden Route Tour around the southern coastline (without my laptop or much wifi), I’ve neglected posting a bit. Hopefully this can sum everything up well. I finished my Philosophy and Ethics class with no trouble. It was quite interesting learning about different philosophical viewpoints like Utilitarianism and Deontology and tackling some controversial debate topics with these perspectives in mind. I’m really enjoying the open-book exams and 3-page final papers; wish my classes were always like that!
The past two days we were lucky enough to have 80-degree weather in Maynooth! My International Marketing teacher even taught our afternoon session outside. As I basked in the sun while running errands and hitting up local bakeries for custom birthday cakes for my new friends, I realized that I only have 9 days left until I’m back home in America! My schedule has been hectic since I’ve arrived and I think I’ll take a moment to savor the last of Ireland while I can, starting today with buying one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had from a bakery in town. Seriously, this cupcake from Elite Confectionary was AH-MAZING. Here’s a quick insight to how my “typical” day goes:
Wer braucht gute Titeln?
As I’m writing this blog post, I’m currently in the middle of my fourth week in France, finishing up my finals, and nearing the end of my program. It’s not a mid-program post, so to speak, as it’s way past the middle of my program (life here has literally been non-stop, and I have not had any time to work on my blogs sadly), but even though I am leaving France right after, I will still be in Europe for 4 weeks in Germany and Poland, and so in that way it’s a mid-time in Europe post.
Photo: Boulevard Park; Bellingham, WA; July 4th, 2017
I am having such as amazing time in Ireland, I honestly don’t know what to talk about first! Maynooth, where I’m based at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, is such a cute college and commuter town. Two-thirds of the city’s population are students during the school year. The rest of the people range from babies to retired couples and plenty of dogs! The locals are friendly and happy to help with directions or have a conversation with us students. Downtown Maynooth is a couple of streets of delicious restaurants, bakeries, shopping, Maynooth Castle, and sightseeing opportunities. Dublin is a quick train ride East and the train is only a half mile from campus. That’s one of the great things about Maynooth: everything is conveniently within 10 minutes of walking distance. There’s also a great running or walking trail along The Royal Canal that passes fields of sheep. Heck, I can even hear sheep “baaa”-ing from my dorm room while I do homework! I love walking to the store or to class and casually passing by an ancient castle; it’s just an everyday sight here in Ireland.
Today marks three weeks since I left Wenatchee to come study abroad, and just a couple days shy of a full three weeks in Stellenbosch. It’s a relief to say things are starting to feel somewhat comfortable and normal here. I have my close friends, I know the immediate area, and at least my weekdays have finally taken some form of routine here.
A typical day for me starts around 7:30 when I wake up for breakfast which is served in the dorms from 7:30-8:30. Breakfast is usually eggs cooked differently depending on the day, some kind of sausage or bacon, tomatoes or mushrooms, and toast. I haven’t quite gotten used to when they serve cold hotdogs as the sausage (seriously, they are absolutely hotdogs), but I think they’re growing on me. After that I walk to class which is about 10 minutes away. Sometimes the morning is a little chilly, but I like the quiet stillness of campus in the morning. The local students are finally starting to arrive since their classes start in a couple weeks. I take one class each week, and it goes from 9-10:30, tea break, 11-1:00, lunch, 2:00-4/5:00. The days are long, but I really lucked out with my Biodiversity class last week since I only had morning lecture and then excursions in the evening. I got to see beautiful coastlines, a botanical garden, a commercial protea farm, and even penguins and a zebra during the outings.
I am currently sitting in the Copenhagen airport waiting to hear the outcome of my standby status. Apparently the city didn’t want to let me go! At this moment though home is the only place I want to be. I have missed my family and friends so much and I cannot wait to see them when I finally get off the plane in Vancouver. Other than that the only thing I have missed about the states is the lack of pressure to be doing something every moment. It will be so nice to get to relax at home.
I will miss Copenhagen, and Europe in total so much. I will miss the air and the atmosphere. I will miss the cobblestone streets of Copenhagen and the graffiti-ed walls of Berlin. Interestingly, something I will miss the most about being abroad is hearing all the different languages. I have loved the white noise of people speaking, but not understanding them. I also will definitely miss the hotdogs!
I do not think that I was abroad long enough to experience reverse culture shock when I get back since I wasn’t fully immersed in my host culture.I see this as both a good and bad thing. I wish I could have been there longer, but it will be nice to go back with not struggles except jetlag. I almost immediately go back to work so I think throwing myself into the real world will help quite a bit with the sadness and any reverse culture shock I may have.
I have added many of my friends of social media and plan to keep up with their lives moving forward. I have met some wonderful people and I wish them all the very best in their lives. I have learned a lot about myself and being a global citizen while abroad and I can’t wait to bring that back with me. I have learned so much about identity and personal biases and how we can better deal with them and create a more inclusive world. I hope to influence others to think of the world as their home.
Since I have come here to France, I have already had plenty of opportunities to speak French, which has been really cool. I was initially intimidated by going to France with only a year’s worth of French, and yes I was afraid to speak it at first. Before coming to France I listened to a lot of French podcasts and music, but I would always have trouble understanding what was being said. I would try to speak with friends, but I would struggle to put together sentences. Long story short I did not have as much experience with the French language as I felt I needed, and that was scary to think about.
I have been in France for about a week and a half now, and I simply cannot believe it. It’s been great and I cannot wait to share those stories with you all. But alas this is not my arrival in France blog post rather it is one focusing my on my journey to France ( I would have written this blog earlier but I have had absolutely no time at all for anything in the last week and a half ), and boy did I have an amazing journey.