Warning: Stream-of-Consciousness ahead. Proceed cautiously.
This hasn't been the easiest thing in the world. It's been quite the opposite-one of the most difficult things in my life. Languages are not exactly my forte (ask anyone who was in Japanese or even English with me in high school), so to this day, I'm not sure why I was so determined to study in a foreign language, let alone a language I had known for less than two years. As I kept telling myself and others, though: it's either now or never. Most likely, I'm never going to have an opportunity like this again. Nevertheless, the language barrier is still very strong.
The social aspect has also been a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I had believed that I would be able to easily meet Germans during my time here, but that hasn't been the case at all. Most of the people I've met are other exchange students. I'm also spending far too much time with other Californian exchange students, yet I don't regret that at all. There are some great people here I never would have had the chance to meet if I didn't meet them here, people who I now consider very good friends of mine, and people I will hopefully stay in contact with once our time in Europe is over.
On the other side of the world, I'm learning which friendships and relationships really matter to me. Who are the people I WANT to talk to, even with the time difference? Who am I willing to wake up at 7 am during my weekend in order to skype, and who am I willing to just remain in contact through email? With the exception of one person, I am actually quite surprised with myself as to who I am staying in regular contact with and who I'm not. I learned this when I first left for college, and I'm learning it again now with a different group of people. I don't really feel bad about the people I'm not talking to while I'm here. After all, it's a natural progression. I would love to be able to talk to my friends as often here as I would back at Davis, but neither they or I have the time for that.
I am fully aware of the amazing opportunity that I have been blessed with. I had the opportunity to just pack up my stuff and come to Europe. It isn't like I thought it would be, but it's been wonderful nonetheless. I get to fully immerse myself in a foreign country and foreign language, I can live in a place where, in some ways, the history is more like current events, and I can learn and experience more than would have ever been possible by staying in Davis. Not to mention, I have never had so much opportunity to travel! I can pack my backpack up and spend 3 days in a new city, something that is just not reasonable back home. My specific program is also quite amazing, as I will have nearly 2 months free between the middle of February and the middle of April, which means I DON'T have to try to squeeze everything into the weekends during the semester.
I'm sure that, if I had more time, I would be able to write a more cohesive reflection, but this will have to do for now. To end, as cheesy as it is, I'd just like to repeat that this has been one of the most amazing times of my life. I knew this year would be difficult (although I didn't know how difficult it would be), but I am honestly so happy I decided to take the plunge. And the best part is, I'm not even half-way through this. I've still got another 7 months to go!
And with that, I'd like to wish everyone frohe Weihnachten (merry Christmas) and ein frohes neues Jahr (happy new year)!