After three whole months in Massachusetts, my internship ended, my scholarship ran out, and I had to return to Germany. Lena, whom I had done the internship with, stayed for another few weeks, as the J1 visa allowed us to stay for an additional month if we wanted to, and she was planning to travel the US with her boyfriend. I, however, had to return, because the last day of my internship was April 6, and on April 11 the new semester started and I had to get back to get into the courses I needed. And to be quite honest, I was so relieved I could finally go home. I cherish the time I spent abroad, do not get me wrong. I loved to be somewhere else, somewhere that was not home, where I was surrounded essentially by strangers, even though of course after three months they were not strangers any more. My ambition (and I succeeded in that) had been to gain more independence, and I did. As I said before (if you read my other entries, which I am not going to assume you did, you already know what I said), I found out that at some point in the last couple of years, apparently I grew up without noticing, and when I was in this situation all on my own, I realized it.
However, I missed my parents so much it hurt, and I also missed my friends, and my little nieces, and also my cats, and university, and even though a part of me was sad to leave, another part of me was brimming with excitement, because I was FINALLY GOING HOME!!!
Now, naturally I could not walk across the Atlantic Ocean, so I had to fly. I am not fond of flying because I usually get airsick because of the altitude changes. On the flight to Boston, I was not only feeling queasy, I was also deathly afraid of the three months without my parents and friends that lay before me, so I really felt like crap. I had a hammering headache and I regretted everything and just wanted to turn around. On the flight from Boston, of course, it was all very different. I was excited to leave, and I said good-bye to my host family with a smile, not because I was glad to be rid of them, but because I was happy to have met them and thankful for their hospitality and friendliness. Americans really are the friendliest people I have ever met. As I was getting my stuff together and my host mother was getting ready to drive me to the airport, the youngest of her daughters started crying because she was sad I had to leave, and it moved me. I gave her a hug. She is only 8 years old, and I guess she just does not like change.
My host mother dropped me off at the airport and we had to say good-bye quickly, but I do not think that is a bad thing. I tend to over-sentimentalize some things, and I thought to myself, I would not have liked a big to-do about my leaving. I had said good-bye to my friends the night before, with a lot of alcohol and some dancing in the middle of the almost-empty Irish Pub (it was a Thursday), and that had been enough.
Unfortunately, the cheapest flight connection I could get was not a direct flight from Logan Airport to Düsseldorf Airport. No, it was slightly more complex than that: I left Boston at 9:30 pm on Friday, April 8, and arrived at London Heathrow at about 9 am local time (meaning the flight took about 7.5 hours), and from London I flew on to Madrid and from Madrid then I finally boarded a connecting flight to Düsseldorf at 4 pm local time, so that at least I was already in the same time zone as my home country again. I left the plane at 7 pm German time, meaning I had been wide awake for about 27 hours, because while I did not get airsick on the transatlantic flight to Heathrow, I did not get any sleep anyways, so I just watched three movies in a row to keep myself busy.
Here I am sitting at the gate in London, waiting to board:
This is the Airport of Madrid. I did not get so see anything else during my first visit to Spain, but at least the weather was sunny and the airport looks really great!
So I arrived. And my mother cried when she welcomed me in the arrival hall, and my father and Jasmin and another friend were there as well and had even made me a sign with my name on it that also said “Welcome Home”, and I was so happy, and it was all so very surreal. Three months really are not that much time when you think about it, but it was long enough that I had forgotten some things. Or maybe forgotten is not the right word. Everything felt slightly alien to me right there at the airport. It is hard to explain. When my parents took me home, two of my best friends were waiting in front of the door, and I was so elated to see them I hugged them and never really wanted to let go. It is all a bit foggy, I mean I was completely jetlagged, I guess it is normal I was a bit out of my mind. Lying in my own bed that night was really strange.
I slept like a dead person the first night home, and to compensate for that, the second night I did not sleep at all. Luckily, I had to get up 5:30 am on Monday to go to university, so I just sat at my computer and watched stupid videos for several hours before I “got up” and got myself ready to leave. I went to university, signed my contract for tutoring, went back home, slept for an hour, ate lunch, and then went back because I had courses. Yeah, that day sucked.
But it was more than the lack of sleep that weirded me out, I think. I was so out of my usual rhythm. For the entire first month back, I lagged behind with homework, and then I got really sick, and I think that was my body telling me to “take it easy, goddamnit, you are not a machine!” I guess I could have used more than one day to rest between a full-time job in America and full-time studying again in Germany with a small job on the side.
Now, though, I am slowly getting back into my rhythm again. I love university. I love studying. I will have to add a semester to get my Bachelor’s degree, but that is good because it takes a lot of pressure away. I am home, I am grown, and I am happy. I would say the staying abroad thing was a full success, no?
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