Student Blogs/Ceiledh in Germany

As I’ve lived abroad before, this transition phase isn’t new to me but it still poses different challenges every time. No matter how often you travel or however many countries you live in, you will always be able to find something new. For some, this experience is terrifyingly paralyzing and for others it is brings overwhelming amounts of joy.

The best part about it is that YOU get to decide!

Ceiledh walking in a field

To my surprise, over the past year, I have fallen in love with solo traveling.

Now, I know, some have more a natural burning desire to explore the world than others, but you can relate this back to trying anything new, whether it be moving to a foreign country or learning to skate. When you decide to pack your life up and book a plane ticket (or lace up your skates), that’s only one small step in preparing. You should step foot in the country (or on the ice) before you make a judgement. The question isn’t whether it will be difficult, because it will, but whether, will it be worth it?

Not many students return from exchange and with a list of negative experiences they want to share with family and friends. Instead, they typically share the highlight reel of their year completely omitting any negative feelings like uncertainty, loneliness, or vulnerability. I think it’s important to keep it real and share proportionate levels of each. I like to have the mindset of ‘growth happens when you push the limits of your comfort zone’, which is why I find the most challenging aspects of cultural exchanges so valuable. It’s where you learn that you must LET GO in order to progress – easier said than done.

Just like you would let go of the hand you’re depending on to keep your balance while learning to skate, at some point you just need to do it.

Sometimes it’s difficult to find motivation, especially when your biggest supporters aren’t by your side. One of the things that helped me the most is keeping in contact with friends on exchange and, of course, making friends with exchange students in my new home.

Ceiledh and Lauren in scarves in front of the water with mountains in the background.

Lauren, one of my best friends and a fellow BIB student, visiting me for the weekend.

It’s comforting to know someone understands everything you’re going through and instead of getting upset, you learn to laugh together. Maybe you didn’t know which bathroom to go in, or almost got run over by a bike (multiple times), or stared cluelessly at the dairy wall in the grocery store for 10 minutes, or translated every setting on the washing machine, or asked someone to repeat themselves more times than felt comfortable… yes, all these things have happened to me. The truth is that these ’embarrassing’ things happen to everyone. Best said by the band Great Big Sea: “It’s all your state of mind. And at the end of the day, you’ve just got to say, it’s alright.”

So much happens in the course of a week I feel like I need to sit in my room alone for a moment just to process everything. For example, in the first week alone I shopped for supplies for my room, navigated all the bureaucratic steps to study in Germany, chose my course schedule, attended many events to meet people, planned trips to nearby cities, and the list goes on. Sometimes it feels like I’ve totally lost control of my life and someone is leading me on this journey because life is moving so quickly.

Ceiledh in front a large wall with a castle in the background.

Touring around the city after a hectic first week.

There’s no way to fully prepare for the whirlwind but the most important tip I have that helped me immensely is to reach out to reach out to those who’ve gone through it before.

Ceiledh is a third-year Bachelor of International Business (BIB) student studying abroad in Germany. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019 in , ,
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