Student blogs/Christiana in Germany

Recently, I’ve had some time to look back at my last blog post during the post-first semester/pre-semester break trip period. In hindsight, I feel like I was just on the cusp of an exciting period of exchange that I wasn’t even aware of yet! I had no idea what was in store for me at the time, which naturally led to a lot of confusing emotions, ranging from nervous excitement to full blown anxiety at what three weeks of solo travel and a month away from Germany would entail.

Travel

I started the first leg of my trip through Northern Europe in Hamburg, Germany. I had two weeks until I was slated to meet with friends, and I had set a few expectations for myself; namely, to see as much as I could in the limited time I had in each city, and to spend the entirety of this time alone. Despite all my planning and attempts to foresee things, I could not have been more wrong in my projections.

I was very fortunate to have met many different people from all around the world in each city I stopped in – allowing me to learn so much about not only the cities I was visiting but the perspectives of my new friends. I discovered each day had the potential for so much fun and new experiences that I would often wake up planning to do one thing and ending the day having done a million things I would have never expected.

Christiana walking towards a harbour and the Norwegian fjords

Visiting the Norwegian fjords.

Starting my trip in Hamburg, I must admit I was quite anxious. In one particular situation, I was walking from the Hauptbahnhof to my hostel at night. Even though I’ve made similar trips alone a number of times before in other cities, I felt especially anxious then. Whether this was due to the “what did I get myself into” feeling or my fear of being in a new city alone, I’m not sure. Contrasting that to navigating the London tube system with relatively little anxiety three weeks later, naturally I had relaxed quite a bit! To be quite frank, I never in a million years would have thought that self-assuredness would be a skill I’d acquire during my travels. Even now being back in Augsburg, I find myself acting with much more certainty and confidence, knowing that if there’s a problem coming my way, I will deal with it, and if it’s out of my control, I am not going to worry about it.

Christiana in the mountains

Garmisch-Partenkirschen, Germany

When I began my trip it took me a few days to shake off the uncomfortable feeling of asking for a table for one or going to a tourist attraction alone. But, after a few experiences like this, I began to realize that I was taking myself way too seriously; no one else in the restaurant cares and maybe doesn’t even notice that you are alone. Although this is mentioned in every solo travel blog you likely will ever read, I have learned it’s something you have to conquer yourself to understand. Eventually, I didn’t even care what people may have thought of me, which I must say is incredibly liberating. It sounds minor, but it’s something I still carry with me now, and one of my biggest takeaways from my trip.

Christiana walking in the snow in Flam, Norway

Flam, Norway

As much as I hate to admit it, I tend to be a bit of a people pleaser in the sense that I often “go with the flow.” However, when you’re travelling by yourself, it’s one hundred percent up to you to figure out what you want to do. When you don’t feel the constant pressure of pleasing everyone around you, it allows you to quite literally go wherever your heart desires – which helps in uncovering what truly makes you feel fulfilled. It’s uncomfortable and even a little confusing at first to get used to, but after I few days I found myself taking great pleasure in just existing on my own. When I returned from my trip, I had a much better understanding of what makes me happy, and frankly much less worry about pleasing others.

Second Semester

Now, here I am. A month into my second semester and already feeling completely different from who I was in semester one. Believe it or not, my second semester began on April 25, 2019. I must say that beginning school when a lot of my fellow exchange students were returning to Canada, and my other friends at home were wrapping up exams, naturally led to a bit of uneasiness and homesickness. Exchange has been such a thrilling experience, but at this point the novelty of this experience tends to die down. Now, I am growing more and more excited to just finish up this semester and get home.

Crystal clear blue water leading up to the mountains

Despite the late start, the transition from semester break into semester two was incredibly easy compared to my first semester. I felt so much more at ease with selecting courses, establishing a routine and simply engaging in everyday life in Germany. I found myself speaking German with so much more confidence than ever before. So much so, it makes me a bit upset knowing I have to leave so soon and put this newfound confidence on hold.

As my semester slowly comes to a close, I continue to be very grateful for the opportunity to be here in the summer, and to experience an entirely different side of my city as the sun comes out!

Christiana in a scarf by the water in Stockholm, Sweden.

Stockholm, Sweden

Christiana is a third-year Bachelor of International Business student studying abroad in Germany.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 in , ,
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