With my final days in Berlin quickly approaching, I am forced to come to terms with two unfortunate facts: I am leaving soon, and I won’t be able to see every single thing the city has to offer. When I came to Berlin, I had a massive list of places I wanted to see, shops I wanted to browse, museums I wanted to go to, restaurants and cafés I wanted to try, and more. Simply put, I wanted to do it all. In a city with over 150 museums alone, this desire was incredibly ambitious, especially considering I would be in the city for less than four months. But how often do I get to Europe? When will I ever have an opportunity like this again? In some ways, these three and a half months felt like my only chance. I had to make the most of every moment because I might never get another opportunity to do so.
Shortly into my time in Berlin, I realized that my idealized do-it-all dream was not even close to reality. For all of you excited to study abroad and who channel that excitement into making lists like I do, I encourage you to keep going - that way, you’ll always have something to do and you’ll remain excited for your forthcoming adventure. But as you make those lists, know that you may well realize that it’s unlikely that even half of the things on your list will get done, by both time constraints and by the choices you’ll likely end up making while abroad. Studying abroad changes you in so many ways, so there should be no guilt attributed to changing the priorities that you had before even setting foot in your study abroad destination. For example, as my program comes to a close, I have chosen to spend days relaxing in a park with my new friends instead of trying to cross things off my bucket list of Berlin activities, and I have not once regretted this decision.
While I thought I had a plan going into my study abroad adventure, I have realized that plans can change, and that's okay. Just because I wrote something down months ago does not mean it has to remain a priority for me. Part of me will always be in Berlin, and part of Berlin will always be in me. Just because I couldn’t go to every restaurant, record store, bar, and park that I wanted to doesn't mean that I didn’t make the most of my time in Berlin. Plus, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be back in Berlin with a whole new chance to do some of the things I missed this time. If I’ve learned anything from my experience abroad, it is that the greatest adventures (and the best restaurants) don’t often come with much prior planning, but rather seeing what fun you get into naturally in the process of living your life.
These next few days for me will be filled with fun, memories, the bittersweet feeling of knowing that something I love is coming to an end, the plan of returning some day in the future, and the hope of carrying this happier, more independent version of myself into my life back at home. These days of mine will not be filled with rushing around to check off a list I made for myself before even stepping foot in the city or trying every new restaurant I can. They will be filled with my friends and my favorite new comfort foods here and all of the places I want to see one more time. Making the most of every moment doesn’t have to mean doing as much as you possibly can. It can – and does – mean simply sitting in the park cherishing the time you still have left to spend in your favorite city with your new friends.
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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!