Some Closing Streifzüge

Has it been five to ten minutes yet?”

As it is finals week, we naturally have had quite a few final tests. In order to increase my motivation to study and avoid the distractions in my room, I’ve started studying with friends. This worked rather well for a time, but toward the end, studying seemed less and less appealing and the temptation for study breaks became much greater. But wir haben es geschafft (we did it!) and I can now say I’m officially done with my junior year of college. (Say what?)

And what a year it has been. It’s pretty cliché to say that a lot happened and I’ve learned a lot through it, but it’s also the truth. I’ve tried to sit down and summarize a few things that I’ve learned this semester in München and here’s the first four I thought of.

The Rathaus (Town Hall) in Marienplatz.
The Rathaus (Town Hall) in Marienplatz. I braved it the other day to pick up some souvenirs for my family.

Slow down. Relax. Savor each moment. I’ve had so many amazing and fun experiences here, but I’ve also had time just to sit and think. To hang out with friends. I’ve learned that I need to find the balance between being too busy and busy enough. I’m trying to accept the fact that not every moment needs to be “productive” for it to be meaningful. I need to learn how to relax in a way that’s restful without wasting too much time. I’ll let you know when I figure that one out. It might be a while.

Confidence. I’m realizing that I’m not going to get everything right (big surprise, right?), but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. I make plenty of mistakes when I speak and write German (and in all of the other areas of my life), but I can’t let that stop me from trying or being who I am. I’m thankful for this encouraging and welcoming environment at JYM that has helped me become better at German and more confident in the person I am, despite the mistakes and the parts that are nicht so schön (not so nice).

Contentment. It’s pretty easy to spend a lot of time wishing for things we don’t have and think we’ll be completely zufrieden (content) when we get them. I’m realizing that even when I finally do get to experience things I’ve dreamed of (and they’re amazing), they still doesn’t quite satisfy me the way I was expecting. It’s a good reminder that God truly is the only one who can fully satisfy. And I can’t really explain how that works, but I know that the more time I spend thinking about how big God is and his love for every person on earth, the more I feel filled with peace and joy.

Knowledge. Or rather lack thereof. There’s nothing like entering a new culture with a new language to remind you about how much you don’t know. This past Saturday I took a language certification exam through the Goethe Institute. It was really fun realizing that I have learned enough German to understand (and most likely pass) the exam, but then I quickly remembered there’s always more German to learn! (Not necessarily a bad thing though.) On the larger, grand-scheme-of-life-scale, it’s very humbling, but also very freeing to know that I definitely don’t have everything figured out and probably never will. There are always more questions to ask, more points of view to see, and more ways that my opinions can change.

I’ll probably discover more ways I’ve grown when I return to America and continue to ponder my study abroad experience. My time in Germany has been more than I could have ever asked for, and I am so thankful for my family and friends who have supported me the entire time, as well as the wonderful friends I have made here. I’ve felt so loved and cared for, and I can’t thank y’all enough. It means a lot that you have stuck with me and followed my adventures (and rambling thoughts davon) in München.

Anyway, to sum it all up in the wise words of my friend Laurianne:

“Studying abroad was exactly what I needed.”

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