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Sonntag, 6. Januar 2013
'Cause I'm halfway gone
The line is from Lifehouse, "Halfway Gone".
And looking at Dorothea's day-count, it's a bit scary (be warned that there is a lot of feeeeeels under the cut, and a fair bit of me psycho-analyzing myself, so enter at your own risk)
27 days left. That's less than a month. That's less than a fifth for her, less than twenty percent of her exchange year.
That means that more 80% are over, now already, a thought that is both surreal and scary for me.
I remember just too clearly how she first contacted me, and I can claim that she is the reason this blog still exists. If not for her and her excited comment that we both would be going to the same city with the same organisation, I would not be posting this and my blog would be just another deserted and dead thing, almost empty.
Not this resort for me, where I can come and share my thoughts, my experiences, with almost a hundred people every day. Every day. 100 people.
This is unbelievable for me.
When I started this blog, it was more of a documentation of my experience for myself, a "I don't want to forget anything", and now it has become something other people check in on, regularly, and it just amazes me. Every time I look at my stats, I think "These people all over the world (but mostly in Canada and Germany), they follow you".
If I had to guess, I would say that most of my readers are people I actually know, people that check back time and time again, just to read what I'm getting up to here.
It is a very gratifying thought, even though I know I have bullied some people into reading this (sorry Lisa, Vroni!). But still, just knowing that people care about me enough (or like my writing style or my pictures or whatever) to come back, is immensely powerful knowledge.
Sometimes looking at my stats (and you guys broke the 20,000 clicks sometime last year still) is enough to pull me out of a slump. Has been enough.
But back to the reason I am posting this:
Looking at Doro's count-down and seeing that she is almost at the end of her year, it shows me that I have almost half of mine behind me, too.
And while I know that some people would say "I'm kinda glad, because while I really enjoy it here, I miss my family and friends", or even "I'm really glad I get to go home right now, because this has been nothing like I imagined it", I don't feel that way at all.
I don't want to hurt anybody. Especially not my family and my friends with what I write next.
I have always been weird in personal relationships. Maybe I am admitting this just because I don't have to face most of my readers, but this is a truth I am quite comfortable admitting.
I have times, where I need my friends (and of course my family, but I'm just lumping these two groups together for easier writing). Times, where all I want is proof, reassurance that there are people who care about me. In these times, I'm clingy. I'm touchy. All I want to do is hug people, never let them go. I usually suppress these urges, hugging my parents to death instead. Or trying to cuddle with my dog (who really doesn't like that).
And then I have times (most notably winter, for some reason, end of December and January are the worst months in this regard) where I don't need anybody, don't want to see anybody. Just being by myself, holed up with a book, is enough for me.
I have horded hugs and sentiment and the knowledge that people care about me, and this knowledge is stored securely inside me.
Especially since we have a lot of birthdays in December and celebrations and just so many people that I am kind of in 'overload'.
I am short with people. I am impatient. I am really-not-nice at times, and at the moment I don't care. Later, at night, on my own, sometimes even right after, I feel really bad, but sometimes it's just like my mind shuts down.
I am in this phase at the moment.
I know there are people back home (some at least) who are missing me, but homesickness is an emotion I can't even remember anymore. I am glad, because what I remember is a gut-wrenching ache that can't be soothed, a pain deep in my chest that feels like an empty hole.
Since Vancouver, all traces are gone. My mind is in overdrive with emotions, and I have met so many new people here that everything is swirling.
I'm blaming my desire for excessive sleep on that - the mind works on implementing new information during sleep, and there was just so much in these last few weeks...
So, what I'm trying to say is:
I frankly don't miss anybody at the moment. Sure, I'd love to see my friends and my parents and annoy the heck out of Vroni and Dustin and nag on Lara to hurry up, but I don't particularly miss anything.
Because what is different?
Last year at this time, I was holed up in my room, doing one one-thousand-five-hundred jig-saw puzzle after the other.
I was by myself, venturing out only when forced: For dancing, school and meals.
I was totally content by myself, telling myself stories, listening to music and staring at the pieces until I had them figured out.
I can only guess on this account, but I guess that I know people are thinking of me, deep in my heart (and last year, after this phase I just described, I had a major out-burst of insecurities. Like breaking down crying because "no one likes me"), which is in part due to my wonderful fare-well book.
Everybody I have given it to has managed to write something really nice, and I can say that I carry this knowledge with me at all times. When I had the panic attacks last year (in 2012!) because of my first hostmother, the book proved invaluable in calming me down again. I carried it with me to school every day, and just looking at it, thumbing through the colorful pages provided a life-line to me.
A huge thank you to everybody who has contributed to it, I can say without lying that it has been a reason why I haven't abandoned the ship and just gone home when it was really bad (another reason was the shame of admitting defeat, but that is not what this is about).
And just knowing that I have this base back home, it has enabled me to live here in the moment.
I am not thinking of home very often.
And do you know why? It's not because I want to forget the people there. It's not because I don't care about you guys back home.
It's because I care so much about everybody I left behind that thinking too excessively about it would only end in tears.
It still sometimes does (mostly over Skype, because for some reason I can't cry by myself), but those occasional outbursts of hysterics are preferable over always living with that ache of homesickness.
So I do my best to limit myself to not-missing Germany and my friends, because (yes, there's another reason) if I even started thinking about missing it, I would start comparing Canada and Germany, and how can I enjoy my year if I am doing that? How can I get the most out of my experience when all I can think about it "We do that differently", "That's better in Germany"?
I don't want to judge. Judging things makes me unhappy, and it makes those around me unhappy. Because seriously, who wants to be told that another country, another way of doing things is better than theirs? And Canada may not be the United States (from what I've gathered the epitome of patriotism), but like any country they are proud of what they are, and if I start comparing, seeing Germany through the distance (and yes, the saying "Distance makes the heart grow fonder" is both entirely true and totally wrong), do you think that Canada would always have the upper hand?
I can't compare the countries. But even if I tried, I would destroy the whole experience for myself.
There are certain things I miss, of course. But they are small things. Things like not-chlorine-tinged water. Water with gas (even though I don't really like it. Didn't I say Distance makes the heart grow fonder? That's an instance where it's definitely true). Or absurd things. Cities with history. Neighbourhoods where every house looks different. Prices where you don't have to add tax yourself. 50 ct coins.
There are things I will miss once I get back home, of course, I don't doubt that.
Things like water fountains all over the school at every corner (literally). Or super-approachable teachers, who are teachers because they want to teach. Not because they want to make money. Young cities. I know I said I miss old cities, but I will certainly miss the broad streets, enough parking spots, abundant parks, sidewalks and the cleanliness. The plastic bills, and in general the bills here. They look really awesome.
But these are all small things, I think, everyday things. Thinking about life back home? (Yes, I have "locked" most of my memories.) That would bring the big things out.
Customs. Raising children. Manners. The concept of respect. All these things are things I can't change but that impact me every second, every time I meet somebody else, every time I talk to somebody. Even if I'm just on facebook.
Canada would probably come away the winner in most of these faceoffs.
But I am not kidding myself into thinking that it would win in all of the categories. And I made the mistake of comparing one thing (I'm not saying which, aber des war mei bayrischer Bschwerdepost), and let me say, I have not been very happy with the result.
One consequence of me loving to read psychology books here is that I can barely restrain myself from explaining things, and I really doubt that that would be appreciated. I know it wouldn't. Because it's exactly what we were warned about.
We can't just come into a strange country and then start mixing things up. It doesn't work like that.
So, tl;dr (too long, didn't read, or my post in a nutshell):
I'm not particularly looking forward to coming home because I haven't been thinking about home a lot, but that's not because I don't care about it, but because I want to get as much out of my exchange year as possible, and I need to be un-prejudiced for that.
I am really sorry if anybody feels hurt by this post; that was never my intention.
I am just hoping to provide an insight into my feelings.