Today I am feeling brilliant. So I thought in between getting my final essay written, I’d write a positive blog post. The blog is definitely one-sided, but what can I say: writing about the negatives helps me to let it all go. But considering that I turned 28 last week, I thought I’d put up a more visual post about all the things in my life that I love right now.
Being with someone I honestly do not deserve. He expects the best from me and isn’t intimidated by my perfectionism and ambition, but calls me out when I get too stressed out. He makes me laugh all the time and he is a very grateful recipient of all my culinary attempts.
We need some new pics, this is old but I love it enough to share anyway. Being abroad and having the support of my family is very important. I’m very lucky to have a family that understands my crazy wanderlust.
You can read about how I feel about my Greek life here and here. 2013 is the year of Greece. Crete, Corfu, Rhodos & Katerini/Thessaloniki. It’s such a horrible life, right? I need to visit a conference for my masters program and I decided that I’d prefer the cheaper option in Rhodes which really interests me and where I might be able to make some good contacts in the field, rather than going to one which doesn’t interest me, just cause it’s free, or one that does but cost 10 times as much! So I decided rather than a quick layover I’d extend my trip to visit these crazy kids, aka my Greek family. I can’t even describe the joy I am feeling right now 😀 especially since I don’t know when I can afford to visit my fam in the states again. It does the soul good to visit places where you belong.
The bf got mad at me since, I told him it was my best summer in Germany ever. And he somehow missed the Germany part and started defending Greece. Ha, dork. But seriously this summer has been amazing. One of the best of my life and this from a girl who has spent many a summer in Greece. It is seriously beautiful here. Even my cynical bf has to admit that he is looking forward to living somewhere where other people come for summer vacation.
Starting Monday I am taking the reigns of a classroom again for two weeks. I get to teach two groups of kiddos for a summer academy. It’s like summer school but with all the focus being on fun and speaking. Sign me up. There were a few hiccups with the situation which really got me down and I nearly gave it up twice, but I’m proud of myself for sticking it out and not taking anything personally. Now that things have settled down I am really looking forward to goofing around with little kids and the exhausting high that comes with being really present in their little lives for an extended period of time. Not to mention the person in charge and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to teaching, which is rarer than you’d think. I am more optimistic than usual about this collaboration and she is too and these sort of challenges, to live up to someone’s positive expectations, are what I live for. 😀
Did I mention I am working for the English department as a research assistant? It’s been such a good chance and allowed me to get away from the waiting tables to make ends meet. It’s not much money but it’s a start and the work is more rewarding. In the fall I will start giving a tutorial about doing linguistics for bachelor students. I am a bit terrified at the responsibility but up for the new challenge. Career-wise things are looking good, even if I am currently in debt to my savings.
Now to be perfectly honest I’d really like to be living in a bigger space right now and the kids partying in the summer is driving me up the wall and my ever changing roommate situation means just as soon as I get used to the new teenager’s bad habits, I get sent another one. But I have to be brutally honest right now: getting into the student dorms ain’t easy and if I hadn’t gotten in, I’d have already run out of money right now. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that huge monthly sums make budgeting nearly pointless. I may not be able to work on my student debt right now, or get any help from the state, but affordable housing is enabling me to follow my dreams and so I am willing to accept the drawbacks that come with it.
Ok bear with me. I am trying to use my own pictures and I don’t tend to take any while I am working out. This was from my birthday when I feeling a bit ill, but nonetheless I’ll just use it as a recent example. I was worried that when I started studying I would sit around all day, which I definitely do, but I also have been hiking more, working out more and generally being more active because the weather has been nicer. I also eat at more regular hours and not just stuff myself twice a day, cause I’ve got 4-6 hours of work back-to-back. For once in my life I don’t have any goals to lose weight. I just enjoy being healthy and strong and I wish I could pass on this is feeling to all my family and friends.
So while I’m not there yet, my Greek is getting to the final stages of achieving spoken fluency. I suppose it will always be a life-long journey. Any language is. This used to dishearten me so much that at one point I gave up on all of them. Nowadays I’m able to ignore popular ideas of what speaking a language mean and just put in the work, day after day, and enjoy where the road to fluency takes me. With Greek I am (too) thorough, because I want to speak it well. With French for example, I am simply happy to speak whatever string of poor sentences I can manage. So saying that my Greek is good, is a big step. I am still wrestling with the aspects of verbs, since just when I think I’ve gotten the hang of it, the bf tells me a certain action done repeatedly is still spoken of with the one-off aspect (well language nerds you will get this, if no one else). Overall though, I can pretty much say anything that I’d like to say and almost always grammatically correct. It still doesn’t always flow off my tongue or makes use of the best, or most idiomatic vocab, but I am enjoying this stage too and while I’d like to improve quickly, I am a bit more relaxed, because I am certain now that I will get there in the end.
Ok I’m not always sure they understand how my bf got himself an exotic American girlfriend, but his parents and his sis and bro and their families have been so welcoming. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them and look forward to meeting up with them when I’m in town. They also both have little ones who I adore and get to buy little baby gifts for and who scream ‘aunt’ at me excitedly when they get to see me. It’s nice to feel like I have family in Germany.
I never feel too alone as an expat here, because I have someone here with the exact same outlook and experience as I do. I grateful that her job keeps sending her over to Germany and that both of us know how to keep in touch despite the distance. We see each other about twice a year and every time we skype it just erases all my doubts and make me feel up for another week of challenges.
This picture is from 2006. My very much new friends (one from England and one from Germany) at the time just met for the first time at the beer festival. And who would have thought that in 2012 I’d move to a place where I’d be a couple hours away from them both. (Even closer than my bf!) Life is funny and unpredictable. I love that despite all my wandering I still end up close to people I care about. I have found great friends, where the time between seeing each other is totally irrelevant to our friendship. We always just pick it up again.
and also just time for myself. In my three years in Nbg I did many things, but there were many things I didn’t have time for, or even when/if I did it just was so far back on the list in terms of importance that I never got to it. Knitting I did on occasion, but things like improving my language skills or going hiking on the weekend, I never had time for. I really enjoy having all this free time again. This will probably be the last time in my life, for a long time where I will have so much flexibility in my schedule. I know it is a total luxury and believe me, I’m not taking it for granted.
I haven’t been investing a lot of time in this. At least not in gaining as many as possible. But slowly making friends makes that even more amazing. People constantly surprise me and those in my program have turned out to be pretty deep, sweet girls that are fun to hang out with. I’ve also made one nice Greek friend here that I am giving lessons too and that is also important.
Come on it’s Germany’s more run-down romantic neighbor. I’m literally a 15 minute highway drive to the border. I can run over there for some grocery shopping. You can’t argue with that!
Mom is visiting Indy and then she’ll set-up Grandma’s computer so I can skype with her. I don’t have a landline here, so I couldn’t call her up cheaply. But now! For that matter my Aunt has skype now too, so yet another loved one to video chat with.
So that’s enough of the pics that I have to match my list. You’ll have to just live with the unillustrated rest.
17. Keeping touch with my pupils. I get their news and chat a little online and it’s nice to know that with a little bit of my effort we can find a nice way to stay in touch.
18. Catching up on my reading. Semester break + american library = a happy bookworm.
19. Figuring out what my masters thesis will be about. It’s not set in stone yet, but things are coming together and I feel good about it.
20. The bf’s positive attitude towards the job search. Because it’s been a tough ride and we both weren’t so sure many times if we’d make it. Now it feels like with a little bit more patience we’ll be that much more closer.
21. Being almost done with my first two essays and a promising schedule next semester. One more project to go and then my first year will be over. And that my friends is worth celebrating
22. Knowing that standing up for myself doesn’t make me a bad person. I can say no to demands made of me and I know how to compartmentalize aspects of my life and I have Germany and the tough times to thank for that.
23. Just all the sun I see in Freiburg. My hair has highlights and I’ve got a nice light color, from not even sunbathing and always wearing sunscreen. I think it is often responsible for my cheery moods.
24. All of the amazing things I’ve learned this year, the debates I’ve had and the down-to-earth people who have more than made up for the snobby elitists you can never avoid. I’ve loved all my classes and it has definitely been the right decision for me.
25. The friendly people I’ve met in Freiburg and in this state. While they aren’t exactly American style friendly right off the bat, people here are more open to conversations with strangers and I am trying to bring myself out of my Nbg shell and projecting the friendliness I want to see back. It seems to be more possible here.
26. All the happy thoughts and dreams I have for my future. Because they won’t come true so I should enjoy them now, but I still think me and the bf have a lot of really seriously happy moments in front of us.
27. To use the German term angekommen, which means ‘to have arrived’. It’s like saying I’ve a arrived, but a little more cosy. Meaning that you’ve made yourself a home and have found a place in the world, not just reached your goals. I’m not there yet, but the chances of us both succeeding at this ambitious project and being happy here is starting to become a real possibility.
28. Being 28 and feeling so grateful for all that life has given me so far. Time on this earth isn’t something to be taken for granted. I am blessed.