It has already been almost a month since I came back from exchange and yet I still haven’t managed to write a homecoming post. You know, the kinds that people write after their exchange to tell how amazing everything was and how weird it feels to be back and overload their status with hundreds of photos about their experiences. That is very true for me too, except for I’ve been uploading hundreds of photos here on this blog throughout the whole spring, as the journey progressed.
It’s been a mixture of incredible happiness and gratitude but also confusion and sadness to come back home. The first week was a whirlwind of seeing my old friends and I still haven’t managed to meet up with all the people I want to. There has not really been a time to focus on what actually is going on in my head and how I’m actually feeling about all this. At first, I was so glad to be back. And don’t get me wrong, I still am. But now it has actually hit me that I really am not going to see my best friends from exchange for a very long time. It’s like you get this amazing bunch of people around you, where many are a part of your daily life and then suddenly that part gets ripped off of you.
Would be weird to not feel weird. And that is what I think makes exchange so incredible, unique and so challenging. As a whole experience, this has been the best one I have yet had and I deeply encourage everyone who has the chance to go on exchange, to take it. It is a journey into new cultures, different manners, confusing practices, but most of all (as cliché as it sounds), a journey into yourself. Being unsure about your surroundings and about a different language makes you find completely new sides of yourself, too. Regardless of how good or bad sides these are, they are good to be acknowledged and they help us grow as people. I have now a deeper appreciation to my homeland than I ever did and a deeper sense of thankfulness for my multiculturality, than I did before.
And I have an even deeper thankfulness for all the people I have had the privilege to get to know and who have influenced my life ❤
But, after all this tirade I want to address another subject that became clear to me on my travels, that adduces a difference between my and my parents generation. I did do around 13 trips on my exchange and my dad may have asked me a few times “Are you studying there at all?”, but generally my family was very supportive of me going and being able to see the world.
I think that sometimes the world has changed so much that our elders don’t even really have time to catch up with our mentality about certain factors. I have found travelling to be one of them. Flights, buses and trains have gone down so drastically in prices that suddenly even people who aren’t making good money have the possibility to see the world actively. AirBnB, hostels and couch surfing provide a wholly new way to live in a foreign place on a vacation. And we start to have many friends abroad, who we can stay in contact with through the internet, that it’s almost stupid to not use the chance and go visit them every now and then.
I have changed my lifestyle in the past year somewhat. I’ve familiarized myself with the minimalist lifestyle, that i.a. includes giving up clothing sale rampages and trains the mind to detach from the obsessive gathering of Things. I gave up eating meat on exchange, which I had to come back from a little since my gut took a turn for the worse, so I guess the German all-or-nothing-mentality was not the best option here. Nevertheless, I have actively been saving up for trips for a while now. I personally rather eat a bean-rice-tomato-soy sauce-mixture for five days and save up for a plane ticket, than buy chicken fillets every day (guys this was seriously my primary reason to go veggie on exchange haha).
Travelling is not a luxury for me anymore, that you can do after you’ve satisfied all your other needs. Travelling has become a lifestyle, and for that I can thank all my international friends who are so kind to host me for a visit, and who I so much enjoy seeing. I rather give up some other aspect of my life (like eating those avocado sandwiches at cafe’s multiple times a week or paying insane amounts for gym memberships). Instead I enjoy a great restaurant meal once in a while and I run outside, which doesn’t cost a thing. Flights are about a hundred euros and we often cook ourselves with my hosts. I seriously don’t even use excessive amounts of money on trips – it’s so great to live like the locals!
My next trip will be to visit my dear friend Alizee whom I got to know on my first exchange in Australia. She has been one of my closest friends for six years now, and the last time we saw each other was in Paris. Now we are meeting in London.
How amazing is that?