Monthly Archives: December 2013

Great song to begin the new year

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This vacation has been rather unusual for me. I have had a lot of time to catch up on sleep and relax. I have caught up with many friends all over the world and spent hours skyping with them and my family. I have been reminded of how important it is to take time away from such a busy schedule so that my body and mind can recuperate. On New Year’s eve day here I heard this song and felt that it was a fun and perfect song to ring in the new year… with smiles for the world!

Click the link above, called “Smiles for Life” to enjoy wonderful and uplifting music =)

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Dorky excitement

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Dorky excitement

The first photo was taken during orientation week in Berlin. The second photo was taken during one of the last weeks of the semester in Berlin. As you can see both photos were taken in the same place. As you can also see I have a dorky sense of what is fun and cool. I thought the building behind me was awesome. My best friend from Berlin, Talia, took both of these pictures and agreed that they are dorky photos, but loved them just the same! …

I used to spend a lot of time caring about what others thought about me and the way that I live my life, what I say, what I find interesting and how I act. The past few years and this past semester have helped me to overcome this over thinking that I still continue to somewhat do. By just being myself without any worries I still am blessed to have some of the best friends in the world, all over the world and the most amazing family!
I have a dorky sense of humor and a child-like idea of fun. I appreciate the little things and laugh as often as possible. This year, like the past years has certainly been one to remember. I have grown even more, discovering myself through experiences and living abroad in Germany.
… With 2013 almost behind me, I look forward to what 2014 has in store! ❤

turning a fear into pure joy!

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turning a fear into pure joy!

For a few years my Grandma gave me a pair of ice skates for Christmas. I never used them though, they are probably really dusty now! The longer I went without trying to learn to ice skate,the greater my fear to try to ice skate became. I imagined only falling – over and over again until my skull cracked and I imagined being laughed at and falling some more. I imagined falling and then someone skating over my hand – ouch! All of these created ideas were false of course! No one laughed at me (only with me)… I fell only once when learning to skate my first time in Berlin and I fell twice last night when trying to skate for my second time in Hamburg! In my defense there were more people skating at the rink in Hamburg than in Berlin. I still get am nervous when I first step out onto the ice, but after some time that nervous feeling slips away and is replaced by happiness and childlike joy! I don’t know why I waited so long to ice skate, but I did! Thank goodness I overcame my fear and am ice skating now!

Of course I still have a lot more to learn, but I am getting there… I think at least… 🙂

Unplugging

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As many may have noticed I have not been keeping up with my blog, even during vacation when I have had ample time to do so, this is because I have started to “unplug” more. The less that I have used my iPhone, laptop, and watched TV – the happier I have felt as I am engaging in conversation and creating memories with the people around me!
So to all those who have been waiting for the next blog post and wondering about how my adventures in Germany and Europe are going, I apologize for being “away”, but I have found it necessary.

I came to Germany expecting no symptoms of homesickness or culture shock, but as I know I remembered to post about – I did experience them. The culture shock feeling hit me a lot harder than I was expecting #1 because I was not at all expecting it and #2 because the differences between cultures (America to Germany) are subtle but there. What this means is that I was able to sense that something was different early on, but I struggled to identify what was different. Feeling that something was different but not being able to place what it was not a comforting feeling. It led to moments where I felt “uprooted” like I had lost my footing and foundation in life, where I was, at that moment and it also led to moments where I just wanted to yell out, “Help! I am confused and I can’t figure out why”. As many of you know, I would not do that though as I prefer to journey through new feelings on my own at first to see if with some self-reflection and experiencing my new location more I could come to understand where my confused feelings were stemming from. I was able to identify and reflect upon the cultural differences that are present and I was able to find my footing which allowed me to no longer feel “uprooted”. This was all made possible by my choosing to “unplug” as much as possible.
I find the internet and my iPhone to be wonderful things, but they also provide me with a distraction and something to hide behind if I so choose. I felt a bit guilty at first for not blogging as much as I intended, but then I knew that everyone would understand. I believe it is better and I know that it has been better for me to get out, meet new people, leave my comfort zone, practice a new language, and make memories than to sit behind my computer screen.

During this Christmas season, I have been thinking a lot about my great-grandfather who my sibling and I used to call Bumpa. When I was in the fifth grade, I interviewed Bumpa for a school project. I asked him about differences from the 1920’s to now (early 2000’s). He talked about McDonalds, cars, farms disappearing, differences in peoples behaviors and TV’s. I specifically remember him talking about TV’s because I interviewed him the spring after 9/11/2001 and he talked quite a bit about how it affected him and how he felt about being able to actually watch the planes hit the Twin Towers on that day. He compared it to when he learned about Pearl Harbor. When the attack on Pearl Harbor took place he did not know until the next morning when the newspapers had the story in print. When 9/11 occurred he knew what took place as the story was unfolding. He found it unsettling and surreal. It also amazed him at the same time though. Technology has come so very far. When my Bumpa was born cars were just beginning to be driven, now we take cars for granted (I think) because they are such a common item in our lives. During my break now I have wondered what Bumpa would think to see all families gathering together to celebrate the holidays and then as they were together, sitting together in front of TV screens to play games or staring at their iPhones texting others in and out of the room. I don’t think he would like it. I remember feeling that when you had Bumpa’s attention that you were the only person in the room in that moment as he only had eyes and ears for you then. Bumpa lived without many distractions. He loved watching games on his TV when he got one, but he also loved cards, eating, farming, pulling us in the toboggan with his tractor and giving us tractor rides. When people say, “I miss the good ol days” those are the memories that come to mind for me this Christmas season. – memories on Bumpa’s farm. They were all memories that took place before we had cell phones, when were all 100% just there, in the moment with one another. I have tried to embrace that mentality more and more since I have been here, but it is not easy. Times have changed as Bumpa would see. That is not bad though, it just is. I am working to stay away from the distractions a bit more, when I can, and just to be with all the people I love around me!

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… Here is a photo of me and my siblings, who I love and miss dearly in Bumpa’s beloved tractor ready and waiting for another tractor ride that we so loved going on 🙂

The more I have gotten “out there” and made memories, met new people, practiced German and left my comfort zone- the happier and more at home I have felt in Germany. I have had moments of homesickness, but they have become a lot less intense and more infrequent as I find my place here. “Unplugging” has played an important role in this process! Know that I think of you all everyday and just because I am not blogging as frequently as I swore I would, that does not meant that I have stopped thinking of anyone! Tschüss for now! ❤

Study Abroad

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What does it mean to study abroad? On the surface it means that one studies at a university in a foreign country while staying matriculated at their home university. Simple, really I suppose but that really is the simple definition. There is so much more to study abroad than can, I think, even be understood by others until you have studied abroad yourself or at least moved somewhere completely new for an extended period of time. The time for study abroad is rather short actually. When you study for one semester, it lasts a mere four months, which sounded like a while in the beginning, but then before I knew it one semester was over. There is the choice to stay for two semesters though, (thank goodness I am doing that!), in this case one studies for eight months somewhere different. Again, sounds simple enough. It must be taken into account though, that whoever it is, when you are studying abroad you are moving to an entirely new country, meeting completely new people and most likely working to learn a new language. Now, it’s beginning to sound about right, not as simple, but a heck of a lot more fun!

Why did I come to Germany to study abroad and why for an entire year? Well, I have family here and now my fiance here as well. Each time I have visited Germany I have fallen more in love with the country, the people and the culture here. I came here to learn more about myself and how my life would look from an international perspective too. Another important detail is that I needed to learn the language! Ich weiss ein bisschen Deutsch jetzt. Ich brauche mehr Deutsch lernen. I guess that about sums up my German, I know a little German now. I need to learn more German. I’m at that wonderful point where I understand a lot more than I can speak, so I know what people are saying but sometimes have no idea how to show that or to respond. 

I learned a lot this semester in general and specifically with German. German is a harder language to learn than I was hoping for since I do like to be able to master something almost immediately, but that is simply not possible with this. So I have learned to be more patient with myself… Classes at Freie Universitat Berlin were also good-  small and personal, I do believe that I learned the most outside the classroom though. I learned about myself in many more ways than I ever could have predicted or prepared for. Moving away from what I know completely and moving to where not only the place is new, but everyone around me is new to me was a great experience. Well, this is a cliff hanger for now.. I will write more later about the new insights on life that have been bestowed upon me aka I have learned. 🙂 Tschüss!