I’m getting more settled in, I think. I’m still homesick, and I seriously wish I could put my family and friends on a plane and bring them here. Or even go back home myself.
But just deciding that I was going to do my best to acclimate myself to my living and educational situation for the next four weeks has helped tremendously for some reason. I miss my family and friends and the environment at home and at Virginia Tech and in Wilmington. But I’m not living in any of those places right now. I’m in Darmstadt, and for the next few weeks, in addition to my intensive German class, I’ll be focusing on learning how I want to live in Darmstadt.
Though I do plan on planning how to get home for Christmas. I’m thinking about visiting home every four months or so. We’ll see, but hopefully definitely for Christmas.
reverse culture shock
Somehow, reading blog posts about reverse culture shock has given me a better perspective about being abroad. As both the blog post and comments here illustrate, people who live abroad for long periods of time feel limited and lonely when they return. Most of the people who commented on that blog post who identified with the perspective given on reverse culture shock said that they wanted to travel. A lot, and far away from home. I’m not sure I’ll want to go very far once I get home, other than for grad school. And so far, I’d still prefer grad school in America. But a year is a long time. I’m already learning a lot about myself and Germany, already becoming more assertive, and already learning to appreciate the people and environment here. I can’t always appreciate those things when I’m wishing I could be with people I miss or wishing I could go photograph the sunrise at beaches or Washington D.C. again. But these emotions of homesickness are a rollercoaster, as emotions often are. When the learning curve to live here seems insurmountable, I get depressed and want to go home. When I’m enjoying the scenery or if I realize I understood someone speaking FastDeutsch (that’s totally a word), I think more positively about staying here for the year.
But there are some things in every location that you can’t get anywhere else. When you go somewhere new, you discover them, get excited about them, and then get used to them. Then when you go back home, they’re gone. Here in Darmstadt, I miss shopping in stores where you can get toiletries, groceries, clothing, and whatever else you want all in one place. I miss beaches. I miss suburbia. I miss air conditioning. I miss having a plastic bag full of plastic shopping bags–man, those things come in handy! But I’m already expecting to miss a few things from Darmstadt. Pigeon-watching. Buildings that are hundreds of years old. A reliable, punctual public transportation system. Sidewalks made of lots of individual stones laid out in patterns instead of made of concrete. Being able to put groceries that you buy in your backpack instead of plastic shopping bags.
But I think I can get used to home again. Part of my reason for writing this post is so I can look back on it when the reverse culture shock hits next fall. There are good things about America. There are good things about Germany. I just have to get used to a different set of good things wherever I go. And keep in touch with those people I miss so much when I’m away.