It’s been almost exactly five years since I started this blog. It’s been four since I wrote the last post. I’ve realized that even though I don’t live in Germany by myself anymore, I still have a lot of thoughts and ideas and opinions that I’d like to get out there.
My intention is no longer for this to be a travel blog, although in some sense that’s what it’s destined to be for the next year or so as I embark on a new adventure which is graduate school in Copenhagen, Denmark. Instead, I want to make this a blog about people and their ideas (and my ideas about their ideas) anywhere and everywhere. As much as we’d all like to believe that the only interesting things to think about are the exotic things that are far away from home, I’m becoming convinced that some of the most interesting things to think about and talk about and question are the things that we (who is ‘we’ anyway?) do every day and take for granted.
So this is not longer a travel blog about my life, it’s a life blog about my travels.
Maybe this is my last post of the year. This is the post where there is too much to say. The post where there’s nothing left to say at all. Where I’m supposed to answer the question (as I so often am) “Are you excited to go home?” (it’s more often phrased as ‘You must be excited to go home!’). This is the post where I’m supposed to be able to look back on this year and say to myself with certainty that I achieved everything I wanted to. That I spent all my time just like I would have like to. That it was a perfect year. That I’m ready to go home.
And I think I can. I don’t think I could have done anything better with my life this year. I think starting college would have ended up with a pre-mature mid-life crisis. I think not going to college is something that hasn’t really ever occurred to me as a viable option. And look at me now! My German is REALLY good. Even if I didn’t get anything out of the year, that’s something I’ll be able to take with me. I met a ton of new people. I settled into a family that’s not mine. I became a not-twin for the first time since I was negative nine months old. And all on my own.
During my interview for this scholarship, one of the questions I was asked was why I wanted to do this program. I don’t know exactly the words I said. But this has never been a program I just wanted to do. I never WANTED to go to Germany for a year. This is one of those things that I have needed to do. I NEEDED to get this scholarship. Not because I didn’t believe I would survive here on my own (even by the tender age of seventeen it was clear to me that death is a rather unusual effect of loneliness or sadness). Not because I needed to run from my family. But because I just needed to check that I could do it. I didn’t want to just say for my whole life that this was something I could have done. I wanted to be able to say it was something I DID do. All by myself. Despite the fact that I will probably get carded until I’m sixty and can’t help myself from smiling even when I’m not exactly in a great mood.
And here I am. Sitting on my not-very-much-longer-bed in my not-very-much-longer-house with my I’ve-had-him-since-Easter-1997-stuffed dog. The same kid, in a way, that the Easter Bunny brought that dog to. The same one who has a washcloth and a roll of toilet paper as a pet. Who thinks sheep are such surprising looking animals that she thinks “DUDE! It’s a sheep” every time she sees one. Who, three years ago, lost two grandmothers and had mono all at the same time. Who suddenly was unable to eat for months and who scared her mother nearly to death because of it (sorry about that…I promise not to do it again if I can avoid it). And at the same time, I’m a completely different person. Instead of stuffed animals I collected beer glasses and coffee mugs this year. I’d rather buy a magazine in German than in English. I buy magazines now (when possible, Bad Kleinen is rather small). Instead of reading books for school, I read them because I felt like it. I have a younger sister now (who’s more than a minute younger). I have TWO older brothers and suddenly understand what my mom means when she says she hit her siblings more than Sophia and I do/did.
So maybe this is the last post. Maybe I’m leaving this life behind. Maybe my German won’t be so good the next time I’m here. Maybe I won’t find it weird not to have a younger sister and two older brothers anymore. Maybe everything will be just like it was except for the renovated bathroom upstairs. Or maybe, I’ve turned into a new Katherine. A Katherine who can’t write sentences in English anymore without wanting to insert German words that would add clarity. Who has discovered the joy of Freizeit (free-time). Who sometimes just wants to sit and write. Who likes to ride busses and trains by herself because it encourages thought.
And maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to choose. Maybe I can have a pet washcloth and collect beer glasses. Maybe I can speak German and English. Maybe I can pick and choose the best of both worlds. After all, who wants to make a decision? Who wants to say anything for sure? Everything is bound to change anyway.
Maybe my life will go like I’d like to think it will right now. Maybe.
Until yesterday, this whole thing didn’t seem real. Living in Germany for a year was more of an abstract idea that sounded cool than a quickly approaching event that is a little terrifying if you think about it too much.
Then I got my first host family. For the first seven weeks of my exchange, I’ll be living in Munich with a family of three, two parents and a nine year old boy. (I’ll explain why Munich instead of Bonn momentarily). Suddenly, there are real people that know I exist and that are waiting for me on the other side of the ocean. People with an email address and a phone number and an address. Now everything is real, I can confidently tell you that I am going to Germany.
Today, I got another email with my itinerary for the language school part of my exchange. If I have any doubts about my German-speaking capabilities, I won’t by the time I turn eighteen. German class Monday-Friday from 9am until 6pm. Sounds tiring. Luckily there will be some excursions mixed in on Saturdays and evenings. It looks like I’ll get to go to Salzburg and Neuschwanstein with the group and also get tours of BMW, the Deutsche Museum and Allianz Arena. I’m lucky.
In other news (such as why I’m suddenly going to Munich), the group has been split in half, and half of us are now going to language school in Munich, and the other half in Frankfurt. I guess CBYX found a school they like better because it has more levels of German. Fine with me, I have friends in Munich 🙂 . Other slightly random thought: I’ve been wondering whether my birthday would fall during the end of language school or the beginning of my longer-term host family stay. Looks like it’s both. The last day of language school is August 19th, and we leave to go elsewhere on the 20th (my birthday). Just in case you were wondering.
That’s all for now, folks. The excitement continues to mount.
Well. Here I am, in the world of blogging. I am Katherine and I’m graduating from Cherry Creek High School in Colorado in about a week and a half. Most people are going to college next year. I decided to do something a little different.
I applied for the Congress-Bundestag Vocational Exchange Program in Germany, and I’m off to Germany in just over a month. I’m…well I think it would be an understatement to say I’m excited. I’ll be living in Bonn for the first couple of months with a host family (I have yet to know who) for hours and hours of German lessons. Then, I’ll be going somewhere else, although I don’t know where to go to school for a bit and then start an internship for the rest of the year.
More interesting posts should start to appear once I actually arrive.