With my second (and last) final exam today, there is less than one week left before the program ends and I return home. With that comes the inevitable question, from people here and those at home: how are you feeling? Will you miss Berlin?
The answer to that question is obviously yes; how could I not miss Berlin, with its abundance of vegan food and numerous parks and museums and all of the friends I have made here? I am sure I will particularly miss our tradition of eating veggie döner in between classes and just walking around until we stumble upon something interesting to do after class. However, although everyone else seems sad to return to their daily lives, I feel ready. With everything that holds me in Berlin, there are more things pulling me home.
I miss my dog. And my own kitchen and my own grocery store (since I know where everything is in both). I miss my friends and family and of course my air conditioner and dryer. I miss the ease of speaking English, especially in emergencies, and driving my car (not that I don’t love public transport, I just also love my Beetle).
Something I haven’t heard anyone talk about so far is how much the busyness of studying in a big, bustling place can wear down on you. New York isn’t the only the city that never sleeps, and between classes, visiting a new museum or cafe, and watching the World Cup (not to mention a dozen other things), there’s always something new happening. At first this is exciting, but the pressure to experience new things never lets up; we only have seven weeks here and we have to make the most of it, right?
Sometimes you don’t want to hang out, sometimes you just want to chill out with some Netflix and fancy German chocolate. Or sometimes you do want to go to that Vietnamese restaurant for the fifth time because it’s good and relatively cheap and you know what you like on the menu.
Maybe I feel this pressure more than others, since I am from a relatively small town with nothing going on. Or maybe I’m just more insistent on a routine. Either way, over time I have come to enjoy the peace of my hometown and the restorative nature of boredom between packed college semesters. Of course I have enjoyed my time in Berlin and I did try to make the most of it, but I don’t think admitting my excitement to returning home must diminish the excitement I’ve experienced here.
No matter where I am, there are things I will miss from one country or the other. In returning home, however, I think it is helpful to remember specifically the things (or people) that we are happy to return to. At home I will continue practicing my German, try to keep up with my Berlin friends, and figure out how to make döner at home––I have to get it eventually.
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<p>I study Nutritional Sciences and Linguistics, with a focus in Dietetics and Sociolinguistics respectively, in the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. I am also minoring in German and Korean. Outside of the classroom I volunteer with the Beekeeper's Club and LGBTA Resource Center at PSU and work part time for Hillel (delivering kosher soup, actually!). During breaks I like cooking, gardening, and playing D&D with friends. </p>