Ten years ago, I left my comfortable college town (Charlottesville, VA) to try out one of life’s uncomfortable, but worthwhile opportunities: living in a different country. I studied for a semester in Freiburg, Germany–a quaint college town in its own right. But, as a twenty-year-old American woman with only a beginning German language ability, life in Freiburg, at first, was by no means comfortable. I struggled with the frustration of feeling unable to express myself, the confusion around understanding a new culture, and then the growing pains of learning about myself in how I respond to such uncomfortable situations. In fact, I distinctly remember bursting into tears one day after my German literature class, as I attempted to ask my professor a question, but just couldn’t get it out nor could understand what she was telling me in response.
But, thankfully, with time, my German got better (much better!) and life became increasingly more comfortable–as they always say it does. And I learned the value of throwing oneself into uncomfortable experiences: you grow…a lot.
And so, here I am, ten years “older and wiser,” doing the same exact thing to myself. This time, I left a different, but equally comfortable college town (Madison, WI) and headed in the direction of another German city: Munich (or Muenchen, as the Germans call it). A much different town than Freiburg, Munich is one of Germany’s “big” cities, and while it’s also home to a university and also has quaint aspects to it (it is, after all, the capital of Bavaria, from where most stereotypically German kitsch comes–Lederhosen, Oktoberfest, etc.), this is by no means a quaint university town.
A fortunate job opportunity was my ticket to Munich, but I also came here to satiate my desire to reconnect with Germany and, once again, expand my perspective. However, unfortunately, the years of letting my German language ability lie dormant have paid their toll. While I have not regressed all the way back to how it was when I first arrived in Freiburg, I’m not that much better. But, as they always say, it will get better with time.
And so, with this blog, I will chronicle my reconnection with “der Vaterland” (it is literally, for me, the land of my forefathers), as well as muse over my expanding perspective. Since my job–and my professional (and personal) interests, in general–lie in the environmental studies realm, many of those musings will likely be related accordingly. In fact, another reason I decided to come to Germany was to flavor my otherwise primarily domestic environmental perspective with some international spice (granted, Germany is not the most exotic of spices, but it is an important one in environmentalism’s recipe nonetheless).
Without further ado, welcome to my blog. Please come again.