Sunday, December 21, 2014

Auf Wiedersehen, Berlin!

Well, my time abroad has officially come to an end. I'm no longer spending my nights in Berlin, taking the weekends to travel the world. I can't take a half-hour subway ride to the Berlin Wall anymore, or order croissants at local bakeries in the morning. I won't spend my free time with the girls I've become super close with this semester, or take class field trips to a brewery. As of this weekend, I'm back in America with my loving family, sweet boyfriend, and abundance of Chipotle and Starbucks shops.

Coming back to America has been bittersweet for sure. Studying abroad definitely exceeded all of my expectations. Berlin proved to be the perfect place for me to spend my time in Europe. I know that not everybody in my study abroad program fell in love with Berlin as hard as I did, but I simply couldn't get enough of Berlin's incredible history, beautiful buildings, unique culture, delicious food. I was amazed every time I passed fragments of the Berlin Wall or Hitler's old bunker. I could stare at the Berlin Cathedral and Reichstag (parliament building) for hours. I fell hard for Berlin, and distance is really making me miss my temporary home.

Not everybody has a great study abroad experience, so I'm extremely lucky to have had a memorable and incredible four months abroad. I travelled Europe and visited England, France, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, as well as many cities in Germany. I witnessed the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, toured several Christmas markets, drank two liters of beer at Oktoberfest, went clubbing in a thermal bath in Budapest, and ate snails in France. I never expected to visit half of my destinations, but I wouldn't change my itinerary if I could. I also never expected to meet such incredible and friendly people who made my experience a million times better.

I will miss Germany and everything Europe has to offer, like cheap travel and incomparable bread. But I'm also relieved to be home. I missed my family, friends, and boyfriend every day. The pangs of homesickness eased a bit with time but never fully went away when I was abroad. I can't even describe my joy at seeing my family at the airport when I got home, accompanied by my boyfriend holding a bouquet of beautiful red roses. Talking to my loved ones in person beats Skype conversations every day. Plus, now I won't take free water at restaurants for granted, and I have a newfound appreciation for free bathrooms in America. I cringed every time I had to dish out 50 cents for a public bathroom in Germany.

Berlin will forever hold a special place in my heart and I know I'll be back someday. For now, though, I'm enjoying my time at home, in my own bed.  Oh, and I'm still recovering from jet lag. Five days later and I still get tired by nine p.m.

Thanks for reading, as always!