If you haven’t read my introduction or earlier blogs yet, please check them out before continuing. Navigation links for Del-specific blogs are at the bottom of this entry.
Monday, August 16, 2010
STUDY ABROAD IN 20/20
So, I have been back in the States for about ten days. It’s strange. In some ways it feels much longer than that. Maybe it’s just the load of boring left-behind business that I have had to take care of between my return and now: stacks of mail, mounds of bills, several tedious appointments. Or it could be that I feel like I have been trapped in my apartment for months because of the severe heat wave currently pressing it’s fat, sweaty thumb all over Clarksville. Ugh. Our heroine does not venture outside in 100° heat and humidity unless there’s a Wörthersee in the mix! Whatever the reasons, Austria is now starting to seem more like a memory than an immediate reality.
For me, returning from a trip is always an occasion for mixed feelings, and not just because of the aforementioned chores. Many people get through end-of-travel disappointment by focusing on what they miss at home: family, friends, pets, favorite foods, or – in the case of Americans in uncharacteristically hot summers- air conditioning. I definitely looked forward to all these things, and it was immensely wonderful to see my loved ones and cuddle my cats and devour a long-craved hamburger (okay several hamburgers; I had been nursing a hardcore jones for about three weeks). However, these things didn’t quite erase my post-trip melancholy. I still kinda wanna go back. As Erik said, “Uh, I think I forgot something over there. I better get it.”
Kidding aside, perhaps there is some truth to the notion that I left something behind back in Europe. Not anything physical (that I know of) but connections. After all, I made what I consider to be real friends, both from APSU and internationally. I hope we will keep in touch, but it’s never quite as easy at a distance. Besides, the Study Abroad was a bit of a suspended moment. We were all living and working in kind of a bubble apart from the responsibilities of our everyday life. The feelings that go with that are sometimes hard to sustain.
I can’t deny that some part of me also feels like returning to Tennessee is a step back. I mean, I love the United States; it’s just that I want to try living abroad for awhile and, after this brief taste, I’m more invested in that dream than ever. Hopefully, over this next year, I will be able to lay the plans necessary to return to Europe after I graduate. I would like to either to pursue a Master’s or to work in a German-speaking nation. In fact, the latter possibility is partly why I took this language immersion course in the first place.
Anyway, even if I am having a bit of trouble missing Austria, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means it was an incredibly good trip. I think, in retrospect, that this particular Study Abroad is so very wonderful because it is an unusual blend of experiences. Semester and year-long programs generally require integrating into one particular foreign university or culture. Shorter trips are often travel heavy, and, while they may expose you to lots of people in lots of places, you don’t stay to make friends. „Deutsch in Österreich”, gives you the best of both worlds. You have a home base, but you are also part of a truly international community. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Anyway, I guess that’s it for me. So many thanks are owed to the Office of International Education for this opportunity and to all my fellow students for, not only putting up with my picture snapping and blog chatter, but befriending me despite it. This project proved to be a lot of work for a slow perfectionist like me, but it was worth every moment. I truly enjoyed sharing my Study Abroad experience, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it. Hopefully I was able to convey some of the wonder and excitement of this program. It’s the real thing, baby. But don’t take my word for it… go grab an adventure for yourself. That way, the next time I can read about you!
For the last time- Tschüss!