Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany
There is a quote from Orange is The New Black which really stuck to me in the past months: “Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can. And when you’re done, pack it in and know it was all temporary.” A mandala is a round Tibetan art piece made of sand. After months of work laying out beautiful designs, it is wiped away. The character is referring to her time at an all-female federal prison – a situation completely unparalleled to mine – but still I find this can relate to any person taking on a new chapter of her/his life.
Never have I ever expected myself to be the one who would blog about feeling home sick! To be honest, there is not a lot about home that I missed. At least there wasn’t in the first three months here. I love Europe and even the culture shock was a pleasant experience. However, all it took was a visit from my friend from home put a lot of things into perspective. Seeing a familiar face was bittersweet and brought back a familiarity I haven’t felt in three months. I missed home! I am often alone here, whereas in Canada I was living with my family of four and two cats; there was always someone around or at least some background noise. But like most things it’s just temporary. You will miss your friends, your family, your car and even the simple pleasures that would make you happy like a mocha coconut frappucino from Starbucks, or an all-you-can-eat sushi date with your best friend.
Me and my best friend from Toronto, Rebecca Rausch walking the canals- Amsterdam, Netherlands
It is important to realize that during your time here you will find people who can take the place of your friends and family for a short while. After all, its only temporary. Being alone is not a bad thing as much as it is a challenge. It challenges creativity and with it your mind adapts to the feeling of loneliness. I started to make friends, plan events, have dinner dates, play sports and create my own study abroad family. The feeling of loneliness quickly turned into independence, and that’s exactly what it is. Independence is something important to me that I can take away from this experience.
Me and my new family of International Students.
Part of being on your own is navigating in a city that is foreign and unfamiliar in every way. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping, taking the bus, and loading your student card can become quite difficult with simple miscommunication. It makes everyday exciting and new, sometimes even comical. German is an extremely difficult language to learn, and though I am slowly learning, I can’t help but be helpless when it comes to ordering a taxi or pizza. It’s not easy but it keeps things interesting. When someone finally understands you, when you’ve made it to the other side of Germany on your own, or when you’ve given someone the right directions in German, it’s so worth it.