3 Years Later

So while I’ve written ‘the last post’, I thought a little update was due for my readers because at the moment I am in Germany for a visit! Since I’ve last written many things have changed for me, currently I live in Sydney and I am about to begin my last year of nursing at university, all going well I should have a new grad position somewhere next year. Its actually kind of funny to re read some of my old posts and remember how worried I was about moving to the big city in Australia and being an official adult, but honestly i love where I am in my life and I am so excited for what my future holds.

I have also been lucky enough to find someone special enough to put up with me (featured in the below photos). We are making this trip together through Germany, England, Scotland and Ireland and will be back to Australia on the 2nd Feb. We met at university and he’s brought me a whole new kind of happiness which had been great both of us.

In other news I am now ‘Aunt Luce’ to a beautiful little one with another on the way! Funnily enough, because I posted a few pictures with the baby, I had friends from Germany ask if the child was mine and was now a mother For me definitely not within the next 5 years, but I have come round to the idea of having a family.

I had a few jobs last year as a bartender and gaming assistant which I loved – hopefully I have a retail job lined up for when I come back which I am really looking forward to.

‎So while we’ve been in Germany we have visited Kiel, Eckenförde, Hamburg and been to Berlin for 2 days. We’ve also had catch ups with some old school friends and my host families whilst staying in the home of a friend’s family which has been wonderful! It took some time but we are finally on the German time zone, although a little worn out by the end of the day. It’s been great having all the foods that I missed, especially the German breakfast with Brötchen, meats and cheese – not forgetting the amazing Döner restaurants.

Last night I was asked if my exchange had changed me in any way, my answer was of course yes. I used to be a shy person who would hide behind her parents at social events and the thought of talking with lots of people was never pleasant, however during exchange I had no option but to learn this skill and without it I never would have met my partner. That for me I think is the biggest change I experienced post exchange; the ability to now talk to anyone and make friends easily. This skill is also extremely important in my job as a nurse and it makes developing trust with patients so much easier. I also have so much confidence and learned to stand up for myself when needed. My German may not be perfect and I may still find general conversations difficult in my second language but I feel what I can do is a huge achievement for me. If there’s one thing to take away from this, it would be something that I’ve been saying for the last 3 years whenever someone asks me about the experiences and life changes post Germany, “Exchange turns you into the person who you’re meant to be”. ‎

Well I really think that’s about all, I hope the last 3 years have been filled with happiness for each of you and your families too!
‎Here’s to the next great adventure, tschüß!

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Blog Anniversary, Home and The Last Post

Yesterday I received a notification that it was my Blog’s 1 year Anniversary! Today is the anniversary of when I flew out of the country, so it seems fitting that today is also the day that I write my last post for this blog.

Being back home in Australia is much better than I had been expecting, and so far I don’t miss Germany (which I’ll be honest I feel pretty guilty about) but perhaps that will kick in once the reality of having a job and Uni work kicks in. It’s so great to finally be back home in a place where I feel I truly belong but I know that a part of me will always stay in Germany. Maybe that’s why I don’t miss it; could it be that a part of me is still there?

I met the most amazing people on my exchange, and while sometimes I didn’t see eye to eye with everyone I was with, it certainly made for interesting times – but without those what kind of exchange would it have been? Your year away is not meant to be a perfect paradise for a holiday, it’s also not meant to be an intensive learning curve, infact I’m not even sure there is a quite a phrase that will ever quite describe what it is, but there is a happy medium in there for personal growth and development. We come and leave as two completely different people and I can’t overstate how important it is for people to find who that second person is. I’ve seen and done things I never thought that I would in the time-span of a year and while doing so and those are memories I will never forget.

Next Tuesday I have my final presentation for the Rotary club of Gloucester, my sponsors, and then officially I guess my exchange is over. (co-incidental thing is that a Rotary ad just came on over the radio). While this part of my life has ended I am so excited for what my future holds, and it doesn’t mean that I just forget what I learned in my year away, I’m sure I can use my ability to speak German in my work and also for travel in the future.

This is my 159th post for my blog, I have had 5,052 views and 1,735 visitors since a year and a day a ago and a total of 84 followers both by email and wordpress. If you have followed my progress, then thankyou! Because your support has actually helped me through one of the best years of my life. It doesn’t matter if you started day 1 or day 135, it really does mean alot to me. So thankyou! If this blog does anything, I am hoping that it will encourage others to seek adventure or to keep discovering things during their own exchange years. You can learn alot from reading things but nothing will ever beat actually having the experience for yourself. Never give up dreaming and learning, because those two things are essential. So now I guess it’s time to say ‘over and out’, Tschüß, Auf Wiedersehen! (now now, don’t cry) and thankyou for following my Rotary Exchange year 16,172km from Gloucester, Australia to Rendsburg, Germany.

Tschüß!

Journey in a nutshell:
24 Hours Later
First Day of School
Lost! – Funny Anecdote
Meeting Families
First Orientation
Updates, Travel and New Families
Eurotour
Kiel Woche
Last Party and District Conference
19 Years
6 Months and A New Brother
Spain
Signs In the Fußganger Tunnel – Funny Anecdote
Second Orientation and Oktoberfest
Autumn Holiday Travels
My Last Orientation
Weihnachten
Berlin
New Years

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The Night Before …

In a little more than half an hour, it will be the day that I fly out of Germany – surely not forever, but let’s be honest, who knows? I am constantly asked how I feel and the truth is that I don’t know, I really don’t. It’s like an emptiness that can’t be filled. I feel like I’m going to be coming back in a couple of weeks, like I’m just going on Eurotour or something.

I’m so excited to be with the people I love again, to be in the country that I belong to, the place I’ve been missing for so long! But at the same time I am leaving so much behind and I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet. I always hear of exchange students not being able to move on from their exchange years – in their heads they still away in their countries and that makes things pretty hard. I’m kind of worried that will happen to me too. What I love about being here is the freedom to do what I like; if I want to catch a train to Hamburg and stay there for the weekend I can! If I want to hop on a bus and go to Eckernförde for the day, I can. I will miss that so much! I’m scared of the responsibilities I have when I return: living in Sydney and doing university, finding a job in a hospital, being able to pay rent and groceries, trying to meet new people and when I think of all of that I get really freak out! It’s all ending so soon and I have to look after myself now. That I feel is the hardest part about leaving; the realisation that I’m the adult now, and anything I do affects more than just me. It’s easy enough to say that I’ve found my passion (which I have) and to just follow it but what if that isn’t enough? If this year has taught me anything, it’s that time goes too quickly and life is too short. We need to try and do things to make our lives worthwhile! But I don’t know how to do that, if that makes sense.

I have grown so much as a person during this year and just looking back on my first few posts I can see that. This year has been amazing and I’ve gotten many many opportunities out of it. I’ve also learned valuable life lessons, like learning just to let it drop when I disagree on things with someone but also to know when and how to stand my ground and fight back for something. I’ve learned that I suck with money – majorly – so I need to come up with some kind of plan so I can afford to pay Sydney rent. I’ve learned how to communicate with other people and how to make new friends. I’ve learned how to speak another language which at the beginning I seriously didn’t think I was going to be able to do! I’ve met the most amazing people while I’ve been away and I don’t regret this year at all! At the beginning in my first month I said that I’d left so many things behind and literally put my life on hold to do this exchange year – while true, it was so worth it! I might have lost a 3 year love in Australia but I found it again here when I didn’t think I could. I was worried about leaving uni, well what’s really so bad with that? I think I was trying to come up with excuses (yes dad, I know, ‘excuses are not acceptable’) for myself to feel scared or something. But now that it’s over, I can see that there was nothing to really be scared about; maybe that’s something I should try to convince myself of for my apprehension of the next few years. It’s so easy to get scared when you leave the things you are used to and to leave, basically, your whole world. But that is how adventures happen! That is how we grow as people and how we learn! No one became a superhero by staying at home and doing the same thing each day.

Nothing could ever replace the memories I’ve made for myself this year, or the people who helped make them. Germany, a piece of me will always stay with you. Thank you for helping me grow, thank you for helping me turn into the person I was supposed to be, for helping me realise my potential and to believe in myself. Thank you for helping me to fully realise where my passions and talents lie and also for teaching me that just because something is not easy to come by or to achieve, does not mean that it is not worthwhile. Thank you for my life Germany, because of you, I now have one. Bis nächste mal Deutschland; till next time. I will never forget you.

Tschüß

New Years

I went directly from Berlin to Lüneburg for new years this year to spend 2 nights with another Australian exchange Student who lives there – we will be flying back together too. We got together with another exchange family in her city on New Years eve and it was so cool! We had German food where you have a tiny pan and you put meat and veges on and stop it off with a slice of cheese and it gets melted – so delicious! We also played a German word game which wasn’t easy with 3 exchange students but we actually did pretty well! Then at Midnight wveryone xomes out of their houses and sets off fireworks and the street we were in did ours together so that we had heaps of different ones – one of the coolest things I’ve done this year; set off fireworks! After we came back into the house we did some traditional ‘fortune telling’ for the new year. We had some fortune cookies but the coolest one was called Bleigießen. Basically you get small pieces of metal in shapes and you place it on a spoon over a candle until it melts then you pour it into a bowl of water which instantly sets the metal back into a solid. Then you need to interpret what the shapes are and their meanings which are on the packet, but we resorted to google for a couple of them because not all the shapes we found were written there. It was a super cool thing I now want to do each year – an awesome tradition!

Tschüß and Happy New Year!

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Berlin

On Monday my host family took me in a trip to Berlin for a few days! It was so great! I’ve been eating to visit Berlin all through my exchange so I’m glad I finally got to go in my second last week (!).
We were staying at some family friends’ house – they had a cat! (She was gorgeous by the way, such delicate little paws).
We really had one day to explore the city so we went out to see the Berlin Wall, the parliament house to the Brandenburg Gate and visited the Mall of Berlin (finally got my snoopy Christmas pyjamas and they are everything!) We also went to a jewish memorial of WW2 which had different sized pillars and uneven ground, but no one was quite sure about the meaning of that so I’ll need to Google why it’s displayed like that.
The morning we were due to leave we visited a museum of the Berlin Wall which was super interesting and had stories about those who managed to escape from the East. There were also notes written between the Wall’s guards, for instance, one man wrote that he needed stockings from the other side because he couldn’t get them in the right size where he was, so a guard who received the note would buy them And get them across to the writer. Contact between the 2 sides were prohibited but they always signed the notes as ‘your friend’ so doesn’t that just speak volumes?
It was an awesome few days away! Also I’ve started to play with some of the settings on my phone’s camera so some of the photos I post now might be a bit ‘artsy’ for lack of a better word.

Tschüß!

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14 Days

I’ve been going through a mix of emotions for the last few weeks; I miss all my families, I miss my country, I miss Australian food, i miss using my own currency (is that one weird?), I miss mums cooking!!!!, I miss fresh hot chicken from the supermarket on bread, I miss my best friend, I don’t want to leave my people here, I want to start my life in Sydney and I’m also terrified I won’t be able to have my life in Sydney. Emotionally I’ve been all over the place for a couple of weeks. I’m often asked but the truth is I have no idea how I feel about going home, not really. It’s it real? Do I really only have 2 weeks left? I look at the calender and every time I do so a piece of me dies. I’m stuck in limbo at the moment. 14 days is not long!