Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Final Farewells

Saying good-bye to my life in Berlin was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Don't get me wrong I was excited to go back home to finally see my friends and family - but there was a part of me that didn't want to leave.

I mean I had friends, a family, a whole life in Berlin - and I had to say good-bye to all of it, forever. Well, maybe I'm being a little melodramatic, I can always go back to Berlin (and I will), but it won't be the same. I won't be a residence of Berlin, I will just be any other tourist - sleeping in a hotel/hostel, eating out every night, and marveling at the changes that will most likely take place between now and then. Sure, I'll still take public transportation and spend some time visiting friends, but when it comes down to it, weeks can't possibly compare to months.

And those last few weeks in Berlin were by far the most rewarding but also the hardest. I finally finished up my research project and presented it - which was a huge weight off my shoulders. I did all my last minute Christmas shopping a and bought way too much chocolate. And I somehow managed to pack up the absurd amounts of clothing that for some reason I originally thought I would need.

After all the logistics were taken care of I finally had time to say my real good-byes.

I'd have to say that my last Sunday in Berlin was one of my favorites, even though I tried something I'd never done before - I made homemade mac and cheese and then proceeded to serve it to my host family, my friend Seinab, who lived below me and her family, as well as my friend from Lexia, Kristina. And even though I wasn't able to find all the right ingredients, it didn't end in disaster, it actually turned out to be a really fun evening.

The 8 of us just ended up spending the night siting around eating and talking about everything from American pop culture to German rules of etiquette  (apparently in Germany the polite thing to do at the dinner table is to keep both of your wrists up on the table, in sight, at all times). And as silly as that all may sound, it was a really great way to spend my last Sunday in Berlin.

It was kind of like my last night in Berlin - a lot of fun, but with an underlying uncertainty for the future. What is it going to be like going home? How different will it be? How different will I be? Will my friends and family still accept me? All of these thoughts and more were swirling around in my head as I spent my last night in Berlin with host family.

They tried to comfort me, tried to make the transition home easier. We talked about how we would keep in touch - how I would one day come back to visit and how they will one day come visit me in Vermont. We exchanged little gifts, contact info, and stories - talking about all the things we had done that semester while eating cheese fondue. And while I did have a great time, that uncertainty never really left me and as I boarded the plane home that next day it only grew.

Looking back now on those last few days in Berlin I feel a little silly - I mean, of course my family and friends were going to accept me back, I mean they did welcome me home with open arms. But there were a few little things that did throw me off on my return home - one of the biggest being America's greed for money.

It just seemed like coming home that everyone was always concerned about money and making more and more - like enough was never enough. And after being nagged to buy more at Verizon and getting a parking ticket (all at the same time) I was ready to hop on the next plane back to Berlin. But I didn't - I stuck it out and home soon began to feel like home again.

And now, of course, I couldn't be happier to be home (although I do have the travel bug - I think southeast Asia may be next). But I haven't forgotten about Berlin - after all it was my home for almost 4 months; I was able to make real connections with the people, the place, the culture - and that's something I am never going to forget.

Monday, February 7, 2011


So I thought I would take a moment and go back to my life in Europe to tell you about my last excursion outside of Germany - Copenhagen, Denmark.

At the time, I had a friend who was spending her fall semester studying in Copenhagen, so I thought - why not? It's relatively close anyways. So after a 7 hour train ride (which included a ferry ride - yes, the train went on the ferry), my friend, Jess (who was still visiting me) and I landed in Denmark. Once there we met up with our mutual friend Laura, and another friend who was also visiting at the same time, Eliza (who goes to SMC).

The four of us had an awesome time just hanging out, seeing the sights, and freezing our toes off. (Side Note - Copenhagen, being right on the coast, is extremely cold and very snowy.)

Anyways, here are some pictures of our adventures in the snow.

Traditional Danish Food: Open-Faced Sandwiches

Apple pie for dessert :-)

Jess, Me, Laura, and Eliza in front of the Little Mermaid Statue

Changing of the guards

Denmark, like England, still has a ruling monarchy. The interesting thing about this one, is that it's more female based - what I mean by this is that, if the first heir is a girl, she will become queen and her husband will be called the male escort. But if the first heir is a man, he will become king and his wife will become queen - so in this way, no matter what, there is always a queen, but not necessarily always a king.

One of the more interesting places we visited while in Copenhagen, was Christiania. Basically Christiania is this self-declared "nation" right in the middle of Copenhagen. I guess, it used to be an army training facility, but was eventually abandoned by the government, so people just started moving in. They eventually ended up declaring themselves free from Denmark, and came up with their own government, complete with laws and everything. If I had to sum it up in one word - I'd have to say it's pretty much a hippie nation - they're all about being environmentally friendly (cars aren't allowed on their land), and it's free to live there! It's was actually a pretty cool place to visit! If you want to learn more about check out this website