As I write the last blog post for my plus3 Germany travels on the flight back to the USA, I can’t help but to think back to myself just 2 weeks ago. The wide – eyed anxious girl that was waiting for her flight to Europe, is now coming back with a whole new genre of memories and life lessons. In order to collect my thoughts in an organized manner, I have 3 main lessons that I learned pertaining to – Independence, Serenity and Confidence.
- Independence: The first life lesson that I quickly learned was the importance of independence, especially in a foreign country. At college, it would be scary at first when wanting to go somewhere new and who wouldn’t be, but I slowly started adventuring, I learned that it wasn’t so scary. The same thing applied when we were on the trip. The schedule that we stuck by religiously felt like a warm blanket, a guiding hand that would take us everywhere, everything was already set. However, when the schedule ended and we had free time we had to figure it out. I had to get out of my comfort zone and find where to go in a foreign place. I specifically remember for one of our first individuals dinner, my friends and I went to a burger place. Even though we had no idea what a “burger” meant in Europe, we went with high hopes and some reassurance from some online reviews. We got there alright , ordered our food, feasted and then left. A pretty ordinary story, right? Correct, however, what I admired the most about that night was that the 3 of us went all by ourselves, used maps to find the place, communicated with the waiter in our limited German and their limited English and then got home, all while being in a new place. It was an experience, that I would never forget!
- Serenity: One of the rules that I made for myself, whenever we would go on our city/ cultural tours was to take 5 minutes to myself to be present. I could get ahead of myself and I would just keep taking hundreds of pictures and videos and not truly appreciate where I was. When we went on the mountain in Oberammergau, I kept on taking pictures from every angle of the mountain in order to capture the beauty of the landscape, however I realized that after I got home that I didn’t fully appreciate the view through my own 2 eyes. Every place after, I made sure to put my phone in my bag and let my internal memories store the experiences, rather than my iPhone.
- Confidence: I identify as being an extroverted person, however being extroverted in Germany is completely different from being extroverted in the US. Though, I realized early on in the trip that being here was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would probably never see some of these people ever again, so why not make the most of it! One of my proudest and more memorable moments on the trip was during an individual dinner at Michelangelo Pizzeria. It was a recommendation given to us by some of the German students, so we had to check it out and we knew that it would be delicious. However, when we got there, the sweet people that ran the shop, Monica and John Paulo, didn’t know much English, so I had to take out my very rusty high school German and Google Translate. But, fear not, we somehow learned to manage. I helped everyone order and communicate between my friends and Monica, who was taking our orders and miraculously she understood what I was saying and for someone who truly had not spoken German since 2022, this was a great feat. I even learned how to say “Can you please cut the pizza?” in German from Monica after I was saying something completely different. I tried as hard as I could, but more importantly I was confident and with that confidence (whether it was there or not or if I was faking it), I was able to talk to a native German speaker and even make new friends!
I guess the overall conclusion of these stories and my trip is that – I am my greatest strength. Though at times it was difficult to explore by myself, I felt that I was constantly learning whether that be in an academic or personal sense, I was always doing something and growing. I always had it in me, but I had to leave my comfort zone to do so and constantly being stimulated allowed me to find the confidence in myself to truly bring out my potential!