German Study Abroad: Bonds Made Abroad, Are Bonds That Stay With You Forever
Photo taken by Gretchen Faliszek
(pictured clockwise: Alayna, Aksel, Sarah, Anthony, Judah, Allison, Sophie, Stella, Oliver)
Family. The first word that comes to mind when someone asks me about this program. Family doesn’t always have to be related to you by blood, your family could be a number of people who you define as family, and in this program, I found my family, my friend group, and my best friends. It’s an interesting story how we all came together really. I was originally friends with my good friend Anthony way before we both thought of applying for the program; however, we were on two different flights. I met Judah at the JFK Airport, but it was a brief greeting and we didn’t talk much after we first interacted. I met Stella and Sophie through Anthony, who shared a flight with the two of them. Then Gretchen, Anthony, Sophie, and Stella, came together through a croissant, and I met Gretchen before our language placements began. Then I introduced myself to Judah again on the first day, and invited him to hang out with Anthony, Stella, Sophie, Gretchen, and I, we all migrated there and later came along Aksel and Alayna, who were friends of Judah. We all individually came together in the weirdest, oddest ways, and we all clicked so fast we instantly became one of those friend groups that traveled together.
Photo taken by Alayna Nash
(pictured left to right: Alayna, Allison, Aksel, Judah, Gretchen, Anthony, Sarah, Oliver)
The moment I stepped into this program I didn’t think I would form a close bond with these people, but I did. And I think I’m speaking for everyone in this program with friend groups like us when I say: we all didn’t expect to become a family. It’s kind of funny, it felt like fate to meet these people, we clicked instantly, like we were meant to be friends to begin with, and it’s quite terrifying, yet amazing at the same time. The memories that we made here aren’t made amazing just by our journeys to tourist locations and city history sites, they were made through our friends, the laughs we shared, the many inside jokes we made, the first hangout, to our last hang out, my best memories were made with my friends. If it weren’t for the friends we made on this program, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun, because you truly do make a family. The one mutual agreement I’m sure everyone here feels is: we all don’t want to leave this program and all of our friends behind. Every family has its flaws, there were fights and misunderstandings, but there was also laughter, and smiles, and a lot of care within this group.
Photos taken by Allison Cangelosi
You see, I think the hardest part of this program wasn’t the language learning aspects, it was coming to terms with the fact that we all have to leave each other in the end. I remember the first time we all hung out together was at Gretchen’s house. We had a very… odd dinner, so to say, and that day was the day we all really bonded, and thus the Berlin Firecracker Gang was born. I bet you all have realized by now, there are people in this group who are closer to one another than they are with the others, but in the end we all share the same experiences, and we all share the same feelings one way or another, and we all help each other, provide support, a shoulder to lean on, a joke or two, a laugh, a smile, and a hug or two… or three. From alone time on the balcony, to the moments of one on one bonding in restaurants, to the trivial arguments we always laugh at in the end, I will remember it all, and I will look back on it all with not just a heavy heart, but a smile.
Photo taken by Alayna Nash
And although we all have to come to a bittersweet end in the next coming days, I want you all to think about something. No matter what, this is not goodbye, it will never be goodbye. The friendships you made here, whether you believe it or not, will carry on from miles away. A good quote to keep in mind if you feel things are ever hard in maintaining friendships from miles away is: “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right”. If you’re so focused on all the negatives that could occur, you’ll never have an optimistic outlook on the future, because if you believe hard enough, you and the friends you made will meet again, whether it be in 2 days, 4 weeks, or 5 years, a day will come again where your friend groups will meet in the middle. If you’re thinking logically here and telling yourself that it’s impossible that meeting in 5 years could occur, then it won’t happen. Have an optimistic outlook on the future, don’t diminish the thought completely from your mind. Now don’t think of this as a goodbye, think of this as a “until next time”, as cheesy as that is. Because if you say goodbye, it means you’re closing your book of memories made with that group, and with this program, so don’t say goodbye, just follow my lead. Until next time Berlin, and until next time Berlin Firecracker Gang, I’ll see you sometime in the future, and we’ll have another dinner sometime soon, and when we do, the mashed potatoes won’t be packaged and over salted, the pasta will be gluten free, cheese won’t be left in any fridges, a funnel will be found, and the sauce will be homemade.
Until next time…
Guest Blogger: Allison Cangelosi