Ever since I arrived in Germany and realized that yes, the waiting is over and yes, I really am studying abroad now, I’ve been struck by the thought:  why?  Why am I here in Germany instead of at home?  This is a great opportunity, but a huge commitment.  Some of the times I have had homesickness or culture shock I considered packing up, buying a flight home, taking a semester off, and finding some way to do my last two semesters at VT instead.

But I finally realized that part of my uncertainty in being here–should I really be here?–was that I had never come up with many concrete reasons why I was coming in the first place.  So I wrote out a list of things I will accomplish this year by studying in Germany.  There’s probably more than this, too.  Feel free to add any you think of to the comments.

things I am pretty sure I will end up having to learn in my year here, in no particular order

  • Learn to be more tolerant of other cultures (now that I am learning what it is like to live in a foreign country)
  • Learn to appreciate the differences between cultures
  • Learn how to live in a city and to find my way around a city, including both foot transportation and public transportation
  • Learn how to focus on my goals and not get sidetracked
  • Learn how to pay with Euros without having to look closely at every coin to tell how much it is worth
  • Make friends
  • Learn more about who I am as a person
  • Become fluent in German
  • Learn to stick to my beliefs while living in a largely-agnostic society (though there are Christians here, and I have found a church and a Bible study, praise God!)
  • Become more unique and independent
  • Learn how to budget
  • Get my bachelor’s degree, and get plenty of fodder for writing personal statements for grad school applications
  • Learn to focus even while homesick
  • Learn to stay connected to home while away
  • Learn the importance of being near family and friends (ok, already learned this in the last 2.5 weeks, but I now appreciate how nice it is to live just four hours from my parents at Virginia Tech.  And in the same time zone.  Germany, in comparison, makes contacting them a complicated dance around mealtimes, work/class hours, and the time zone difference.)
  • Learn how to persuade people to come visit me 🙂
  • Learn how to be more decisive and confident
  • Learn to explain things more concisely (since I’m always having to translate my thoughts on a subject into German, and even though it is getting more natural, it is exhausting, so I am becoming less verbose.  In German, at least.)
I’m sure even more good can come out of this year.  I’ve already grown as a person, and I’ve only been here a little over two weeks.  Any other ideas for goals or things that I will learn while I’m here?  Leave them in the comments!

3 thoughts on “motivation

  1. I totally agree with just about everything you’ve written. I mostly agree with the independence, I feel like I usually rely on others to accompany me to places, but now I need to learn about to take the tram alone or ask for directions/help (auf Deutsch!) for myself. I think once we feel comfortable being completely independent in this country the stress will dramatically decrease. But thats just me 🙂

    • I definitely agree with the stress decreasing. Though I wouldn’t mind going as a group to some of these administrative things we have to do. But I think once we’re through with the year, we will be much better equipped to take on a German-speaking world. Or anywhere, really. I just keep reminding myself that I’m here to learn, and I will learn a lot when I make it through. We’ll get there together.

      By the way, if you start a blog, let me know! 🙂

  2. Pingback: sheepworld | tales from lala land

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