College is known to be a time to grow and be independent. Learning how to live on your own and balance school as well as other responsibilities such as a job or meetings can be tough. These are the most important and, of course, the best years of anyone's life.
When I started school, I really had no idea what "studying abroad" was. Yes, I understood you live in a foreign country for a semester or year but why? What makes that so enticing?
People give a lot of shit to those returning from abroad when they talk about their experience. Typically results in mocking or memes that are truly funny. I always told myself I am not going to be that person that comes back with "when I was abroad" stories. Alright, I lied.
This semester almost my entire immediate friend group was abroad. A few went to Florence, Italy, one in Salzburg, Austria, one is in Chile FOR A YEAR, one in Dallas interning for a semester, a few in Paris, and one stayed in Columbia, SC teaching the cutest nuggets every day. I was in Berlin, Germany.
This past fall my friends and I were running around getting forms signed, classes approved, choosing programs and countries, and trying to avoid the fact that we won't see each other for at least four months.
This was a huge step for all of us. Personally, I had never been to Europe. I have traveled alone but to places with which I am familiar with. I was terrified of coming abroad.
I am the type of person that needs support in every single way. After abroad, I can officially add BACK SUPPORT to that list (s/o Joey Arnold.) I'm only (kinda) kidding, but seriously this was a huge step for me.
I wanted to be different and go to a country and city in which not many people study. My dad is half German and my parents lived in Germany when my dad was stationed abroad during his time in the Army. I thought it would be cool to learn about the ¼ of me and to learn and live in German culture.
I took a leap of faith and came abroad alone. Yes, I have friends in other countries but COUNTRIES AWAY. I was so scared I would not make friends or have a good time. Well, I think I've made some of the best friends after four months.
I met a group of people that helped me in so many ways I can't even explain. From my program provider, AIFS, to my university abroad, Freie Universität, these people became like family.
At times the moods were testy as we spent almost every day together throughout this time, but mainly love and support all around. I met people that I may not have met on campus at USC since its such a big school. I don't think our paths would have ever crossed. Everyone I met came from a different school and has a different personality and interests.
These people helped me grow and become so much more independent than I was before. I sobbed everywhere in Berlin last night, the S-Bahn, the club, at the farewell dinner, on the streets, it was a mess. I did not think I would be as emotional as I was because I was excited to go home and see my family, but that was just stupid to think.
I am going to miss taking the S1 to Rathaus Steglitz and X-83 to school every day. I am going to miss my friends seeing me die on a treadmill at the gym that swindled us out of our money at the end. I am going to miss cheap alcohol (s/o 5 euro Wodka.) The inside jokes we have are endless, and I cannot express how sad I am that I cannot turn to my roommate and make one and laugh for years about it.
These people picked me up when I was DOWN DOWN. They dealt with the sides of me I hate when they stared at me for a hot sec saying "what is happening what do I do." I will forever cherish the memories of the cities and countries we visited, the hangouts in my apartment, the clubs and bars we went to, Stammtisch especially, and will cherish the moment we're together again.
I miss my dumb homies already. Thank you for an amazing semester it could not have been better.