There has been a lot of talk lately about my ‘re-entry’ into the United States after my study abroad experience. It was first mentioned as I was about to leave Berlin and has been said several times whilst I have been on American soil. Those in Berlin would ask me if I was ready to come home, see my friends and family, eat an American cheeseburger or if I was ready for classes to start again and those here in the US ask me what I miss most about Berlin and if I will ever go back.
This… this re-entry is a hard thing to deal with or even explain. On one hand, you have all of these anticipations of going home: seeing your friends, family, and experiencing the things you can only do in America (or your particular state). On the other hand, you don’t want to leave Berlin (or your particular study abroad location) and the amazing experiences you have been having behind, because who knows when you’ll return to them.
So how is my re-entry into the United States going? Is it easy to reacquaint myself with American culture and the American lifestyle? and what about Berlin? Do I miss it? (I’ll let you know the answer to that one already – of course) What do I miss and how was I feeling as I left?
As I was about to leave Berlin these two main emotions (that I talked about above) were overwhelming me. Sometimes it was really hard to tell whether or not I was happy or sad to go home. I spent my last days trying to complete all of the objectives on my ‘things to do before leaving Berlin’ checklist (including specific museum visits and last stops to my favorite döner stands) and before I knew it I was going through security at Tegel, Berlin’s airport.
I landed exactly a week ago, and since then, I have been gorging myself on all things American that I haven’t had for 6 months (eating food like Chipotle, McDonalds, and Portillo’s and getting my fill of xbox). But as I am doing all of these things, I am reminded of the friends and experiences I made/had overseas. It’s weird to be happy remembering the good times you had, but sad that you no longer have them.
As far as re-adjusting to American culture, my time back in the US hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. There are certain things that are weird to get used to (driving a car everywhere instead of taking public transportation, eating out with my family more often, and above all, hearing english all around me and being able to understand everything instead of always being in a state of uncertainty), but other than those, coming back to the states has been like riding a bike after not riding for awhile – I was a little rusty at first, but I never forgot.
But now that I’ve been here for a week and in the full swing of things (already working at my summer job), I’ve been able to reflect on my study abroad experience and its importance. IES (my study abroad program) likes to use the phrase ‘redefined’ to explain how study abroad effects those who experience it. Normally, I don’t like to be so cliché, but that’s exactly how I would explain my life after study abroad- ‘redefined.’
But what does redefined mean?
I would say that almost everything about me is redefined, my outlook on life, my view of the world (a lot larger than before), my speakability (not a real word I know) of German has increased dramatically, and I’ve met people who I will be in contact with the rest of my life. Without this study abroad experience I would never have really known what it was like to live in a different country, a different culture, and I would not have been challenged the way I was while studying abroad (cultural challenges, living on my own challenges, and of course the challenge of the language barrier – which shrunk over time). It also helped me establish a stronger identity for myself, not to get too deep or anything, but that can happen when you’re thrown into a foreign city for the first time with no foundation.
I miss Berlin. I miss grabbing a beer and sitting along the canal in Kreuzberg, I miss riding my bike through the city and the parks, I miss the friends I have made and spent almost everyday with for the past 6 months, and above all I miss the city that I slowly fell in love with. I love being home, I love spending time with my brothers who I have missed dearly, and I love being able to eat Chipotle (my favorite restaurant) whenever I want.
So right now I am incredibly happy, but I am incredibly sad and it leaves me with only one solution – I have to go back.
So although this concludes my last blog from my time in Germany, know that it will be followed by another visit and that because I had the privilege of studying abroad my life will be forever ‘redefined.’
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Evan, I am a student at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, and am currently a foreign exchange student studying in Berlin, Germany. I enjoy writing, reading, and photography. I meaningful experiences and I try my best to show that meaning through my work.</span></p>