Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What To Do....

What does one do their last day in a country?

Photos? A quick walk around to take in the atmosphere? 

No. Cleaning. Packing. Garbage. Stress.

I am pretty sure that anyone from a different country living in the USA has the same issues trying to "de-register" and get all your paperwork ducks in a row, but I hate it.

Let's eliminate paperwork and bureaucracy. Seriously.

Anyway, it's a nice morning here and I do want to get out and take some last photos here but am not so sure because I have to throw away all the crap I can't take with me. (= not easy in the German system)

I have to make small "stealth" runs when throwing away my stuff. Here, they have containers for each building and you have to separate the garbage into 3 main categories: paper, plastic and "other". I have grown to really - REALLY - love the "other" because that is where you can technically throw anything. The problem is I can fill the thing on my own and that leaves very angry neighbors (who go through my garbage and sort what I didn't do good enough).

So what is the solution?? Street garbage cans!

That's right! I take an innocent-looking shopping bag (not see through because that would give away the plan) and walk up a block or so and dump whatever I want into those small havens for my unwanted things. 

No guilt. No dirty looks from the neighbors. Just simple elimination bliss.

Yes, I should be out taking photos.

But I have to plan my garbage exodus. 

Friday, March 27, 2009

Not Welcome

I got a visit yesterday from an old friend:

Panic Attack

This time it was a full-blown-in-public-can't-catch-my-breath attack.

I'd never had one like that before.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours.

3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours.

I am now finalizing all my things here in Germany to move back to the USA.

Such a bittersweet time for me, I have to admit. I will miss many things here that I have grown to be used to, and at the same time looking forward to the things that I miss, and the things I will be doing in the next 2 years.

My life has been good here. I have learned the beauty of a simpler life and how to be less "consumerist" towards the normal things in life. I still want things, mind you, but not as often nor as many.

I was able to live in a beautiful city in a beautiful country. I was able to travel and see many places in Europe. Some I fell in love with, some I will never return to.

I was able to reflect on my life - more specifically my personality - and realize that I am strong enough, decisive enough, and able enough to do the things I dream about.

I have come to certain conclusions about who I am and what makes me who I am and while that will undoubtedly change over time as it always does, it gives me a good springboard for the next chapter in my life.

I am mostly happy with the thought of coming home. I hope that I am able to share the experiences I have had here. I only hope that those around me are interested - really interested and not "American interested" - in what I have to say.

I have met some really great people here, and have learned many lessons about the nature of people and have lost some supposed friends. I have realized that relationships end sometimes and while I think I have coped well, I can always do better.

I have learned about the German culture. I have learned how to navigate the personal arena; what makes a friend in the eyes of a German, what things they take personally and that once you are a friend, you are pretty much a friend for life with no conditions. My good friend Carsten, for example, when I asked for help moving he said yes with no thought, no checking his schedule, no hmming and hawing, just "YES" and I will miss that.

I am going to miss the international flair of my workplace. It was fun to share the differences in cultures and to make fun of the little differences in language between the US, UK, Australia and other places. These are things that I won't really be able to share with those at home because....just because.

I am coming home a richer person in experience. I hope that I can remember everything that I have learned here. I never want to forget my time in Dresden. And I hope that I can use my experiences to aid my future success.

And I am scared. Moving home in the "worst financial crisis ever", and trying to study will pose challenges that I hope I can overcome. I am scared that won't be good enough to achieve the success I desire. Not a selfish success, but success enough to provide for myself.

I have loved and lost, loved and lost and loved again. Prague will always have the most special place in my heart for many reasons. Paris a close second, and Italy will be my favorite country for a long, long time.

I will always appreciate that I have made friends with people who were former "enemies" of our political system...sitting in an East German's yard having a bbq and enjoying wine. Speaking to these people about the differences and similarities we share, mostly similarities, is priceless.

I am anticipating "reverse culture shock" when I come home. I will get cranky and impatient with the way things work in the US. I am sure I will have more than my share of comments or derisive chuckles but I am nevertheless looking forward to reconnecting with my culture and friends. I am going to donate blood because I want to do good even in a small way. I want to learn more about the city I was born in. I am quite ashamed that I know more about my "host city" than I do about my home city.

I am sure that I will have so much more to write about this time in my life. I have been obsessed with gaming which has somehow been my coping mechanism but I have to now pull myself back to reality - even just a little bit - to express these feelings and start the next chapter in my life. 

I am looking forward but won't be able to stop looking behind for quite a while.