I won’t sugarcoat it: leaving Berlin was hard. Saying goodbye to my host family, friends, IES Abroad staff, and even favorite restaurants is no easy task, and saying goodbye to the life and routine I created for myself was just as hard, if not harder. In these past few weeks, I’ve moved back home to Maryland and then back to my college town in Michigan for the summer. Seeing friends and family from home has been wonderful, but I can’t help but think of my time in Berlin and feel like—as I reacclimate to my life at home in the United States—those four months abroad were a fever dream. When everything that made up my life for months is suddenly (over the course of a long travel day) gone, it’s no surprise that I’m feeling this way.
Before I even set foot in Berlin, I knew coming home was an inevitable part of the study abroad process. Unfortunate, yes, but inevitable, meaning that I was getting on that plane home whether I wanted to or not… and get on that plane I did. Two weeks later, looking back at all of my photos and souvenirs from Berlin brings me mixed emotions. With my friends being both Germans and Americans, it was hard to imagine a time where we are all going to be together in that same way again. You know what they say: don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. This is very true, but it is easier when you don’t have to mourn a lifestyle that you might never get back and when the close friends who once were down the street now live thousands of miles away. Even though I am a part of such a digital generation, texting, video chats, and social media cannot compete with long walks around Berlin exploring with my friends in person. I miss the people, the food, the culture, the language, and don’t even get me started on the public transportation.
There have been some pleasant surprises at home, though, like my local record store having some records by one of my favorite German musicians and a nearby candy shop selling a popular brand of German chocolates. Though I would have paid about one fifth of the American price in Berlin, it’s still nice to know that I can have a taste of my time abroad whenever I want. Even at home, I can follow Instagram accounts about Berlin and take free German lessons online. Plus, it’s nice to be in the same time zone as most of my loved ones again.
Maybe in a few months I’ll be able to open the journal I kept every day abroad without getting choked up, but until then, I’ll be helping this new and improved version of myself settle back into life in the United States. If studying abroad has taught me anything, it’s taught me that life can be unpredictable and wonderful and has so much in store for us that we can’t even begin to imagine. We don’t have total control over everything, but we have some—and if I have as much control as I hope I do, I’ll be back in Berlin before I know it.
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I am a junior at the University of Michigan and am double-majoring in Environment and Communication and Media (Class of 2024). I’m from Brookeville, Maryland, and apart from writing and blogging, I love music, playing the guitar, drawing, learning, and exploring new places. My passion for advocating for the environment as well as my interest in the culture and history of Berlin led me to this study abroad experience, and I am thrilled to be able to share it with you!