Winter has arrived here in Germany. The sun sets at 4:00 pm, and the shades of orange and crimson that graced Oldenburg last month have faded into grey. I’m working hard in school, studying for my exams, and applying to universities. (Also, wow. College applications? When did I get so old?) I am packing my bags --this time with considerably more sweaters-- and am saying my goodbyes, as next week I will move in with my new host family in Eastern Hessen.
This is a bittersweet post to write. In a journal entry from last July, I wrote that “Oldenburg sounds like a very Katherine place”. In many ways, it has been a Katherine place. I live roughly 100 kilometers east from my ancestral homeland. Over the past few months, I have fallen in love with saying “Moin”, the North Sea winds and the bike paths. I have worked with brilliant teachers and developed several strong friendships. I don’t want to give the impression that moving is easy, because it isn’t.
That being said, I imagine that Hünfeld will be “a very Katherine place” too, even if in different ways. I will be close to the border of the former GDR, an area of history that interests me. I’ll experience snow again and (hopefully) learn the Hessian dialect. I will develop new friendships and professional relationships. In many ways, I feel the same excitement that I did before moving to Oldenburg: I’m curious and hopeful for what’s to come, and I can’t wait to see my host family.
In the US, my idea of home is hyphenated. Like I mentioned in my first post, I’m a Colorado-born, Utah-raised Minnesotan. I suppose it is then fitting, if not slightly poetic, that my German geographic identity would be multidimensional too.
When I was little, my parents would help me wrap up my time at the playground by telling me to do my “last things”. I feel like I’m doing a version of that now. Logistically, I’m doing things like getting a copy of my transcript and investigating how to continue pursuing my Aufenthaltstitel in another state. I’m also saying goodbye to my teachers and am doing my “last things” with my friends.
My friends are the thing I will miss the most about Oldenburg. They read this blog, so, as melodramatic as this might seem, I dedicate this post to them. They accepted me in the way every exchange student dreams of, and it was with them that I started to feel like a real German.
The next post I write will be from Hünfeld. I suspect my blog themes will stay largely the same, just with some Hessian pride thrown in. I’m looking forward to this next chapter, and I hope I’m able to share it with you.