4 Weeks in Germany

For a first step into the unknown of traveling, this was a relatively safe bet. After being offered a scholarship, I jumped at the chance to spend 4 weeks in Frankfurt on a Psychology summer school program. Admittedly, the course itself was all stuff I’d covered before, but then that wasn’t why I went. Spending another summer sitting at home did not appeal to me, and I was aching to see the world, meet new people and enjoy exciting experiences. 

Those are exactly what I found. For four weeks my life was non-stop: lessons during the week, with a break on Wednesday and evenings free to do what we wanted. My weekends were filled with trips to Berlin, Strasbourg and Heidelberg. All the while living in the same hotel with the 60 or so people that made up the rest of the summer school participants.

I sat alone on the first night, having arrived a day before the summer school started, contemplating my situation. I was in a foreign country, unable to speak the language and feeling totally out of my depth, with one thought in my mind: “I better make some friends quickly”. Thankfully, I shared the next month with some incredible people, from all over the world, who became life-long friends almost instantly.

Too much happened in those 4 weeks to sum up in a few paragraphs. So much that I’m scared that I’ll forget a lot of the important stuff that happened. One thing I’ll never forget, however, is that we spent most of the time laughing. Can there be any memory greater?

This is not home

It’s so hard for me to be home nowadays. I guess I’ve never really felt wholly comfortable here, despite living here since I was two. When I moved to Uni I threw myself into the student life. Within 3 weeks I found Lizzie, and we’ve been dating ever since. I rent a house with a couple of friends from my course. I cook, I clean, I work, all of that adult stuff. And in the evenings I can always go around to my girlfriends house and know what it’s like to be  happiest person in existence. It was there that I discovered that psychology is what I want to do with my life. In Birmingham I have friends to play football with just a few doors down.

In contrast, at my parents house, I live cut off from everyone else. My handful of friends all work throughout the week, and a poor transport network limits how much we can meet. I live in a beautiful place, but it’s hard to recognise that when 90% of the time I enjoy it alone. The only memory of Lizzie are the multitude of texts we exchange everyday. My heart jumps every time I receive one, but it is just a poor shadow of face-to-face interaction. My family are quiet, each of us keeping to ourselves. They’re lovely, but I can never quite escape the feeling that there’s never enough laughter. I spend days trapped inside my own head, switching between video games, browsing the internet and reading through books I’ve already read. No matter what I do I always end up feeling guilty that I’m misusing this time, that I should be studying psychology, or looking for a job, or writing more, or exercising. That guilt drives me to despair, that despair makes me give up on any work I’m doing, which just induces more guilt. 

This is home, but it doesn’t feel like it. Home is where I’m confident. It’s where I’m surrounded daily by friends and laughter. It’s psychology, playing football, going to the pub for drinks. It’s where I can take time out without being crushed by guilt. Home is where she is. And that isn’t here.