Friday, October 18, 2013

A Year Abroad and How It Didn't Really End

It has been quite some time since the last time I published something here. In fact, it has been more than two years, which is a pretty considerable amount of time passed.
My time in England ended and so - I thought - did the purpose of this blog in general. Fact however remains that once you have lived abroad for a while your life is not quite the same as it was before any more. After some time of reflecting on those changes and on the time in England, you always get back to the question, what did you learn and how did it shape your life. For me, what has changed rather drastically is the interaction with people from abroad. A lot of people from abroad come to study in Germany and it is sometimes rather difficult for them to meet locals. Before I went to Bath I was not aware of international students too much and I have to admit that I did not really care very much either. I didn't notice them too much and it always seemed like they wanted to keep to themselves. A mistake that's not easily forgiven, since essentially this behaviour is what shapes the way people will think about this country and especially the students here. After coming back, my circle of friends has changed dramatically. Whether it's all for the good or not is not to be discussed here, however I do want to stress how vital it is to take every chance to meet people from foreign countries.
There is a rather famous quote "If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary". While this is rather harsh, in essence it is exactly what I have experienced. If you want to open your mind and if you really want learn new things, you have to meet those people that are different. People that have different views and opinions.
I noticed more and more that the people you've met along the way especially abroad leave their marks, you think about them randomly and you want to talk to them and fortunately we live in a time of technology where this is easily doable. I do seem to have a lot more contact with people from different countries and what's still just small talk often is so much larger than actual conversations or discussions you're having with people from the same country solely due to the fact that their perception of insignificant events differ from yours more often and those differences are, for me at least, fascinating and intriguing.

Let me give you an example since obviously if you've read it up until here, you probably want to know what I am getting at with all this:
I haven't met all of the friends I've made in England again yet and realistically I will not meet some of them ever again but every once in a while I chat to some of them and it's genuinely making me happy to hear that they are doing well, it is also interesting that they're experiencing the same changes concerning international studies at their home universities or home towns. I am wandering from the subject.
I visited my room mates earlier this year and despite not having seen them for quite a long time, it was fantastic. It felt like I was back in 111 Ivy and like no time has passed at all. I met another student here again because she just appeared to have ended up really close to where I live now by chance and we caught up like nothing ever happened in the two years we hadn't seen each other. I met some people from Brazil and the UK I have never seen before yet it seemed there was an instant connection. Maybe it's because I am funny and genuinely nice however I doubt that myself. An alternative and far more likely explanation is that I had in some way experienced the same that they were experiencing at that time and this united us in a way. A single example is not enough to conclude that this is the case yet it has not happened once or twice but it's almost happening occasionally. You go to a bar and you end up talking to one person for the rest of the evening because subconsciously you're drawn to people who are similar to you, people who understand what you're on about in a certain way. It may even be people you wouldn't usually meet yet you met them purely because you know how it is to live abroad. It's not pity or anything it's the feeling of pure joy because you're reminded of the time you've had far away from home in your new home that you've been missing for far to long.
And now to get to recent events and why I decided to write something again: After such a long time the strangest thing is happening. You as a German want the people who chose to learn your language to love this place. You feel bad if they're having a hard time here, because you've had an amazing time abroad. And before you see it, it is about pride. Not about the pride that makes you spray crosses on walls or protest for causes that are unspeakable but actual, honest and modest pride. I want them to love my country because it is mine and I have been there, in a different country, and loved it.
It makes you drive to Heidelberg or go shopping at ridiculous o'clock. It's not an inconvenience but actually really important suddenly. It's this "And it will be till you grow old, Take my hand and I'll show you a land" which actually is from a song about Wales but it's kinda suited here I suppose. Not that it isn't also tons of fun, do not get me wrong here. I love it and this is probably the best kind of national pride, the one that comes from loving other nations (almost) as much.


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