Monday, June 15, 2009


Being home I quickly realize how much I have changed. While it's fantastic to see friends and familiar faces, I see how different our worlds are. It's not always easy being between two cultures and not quite knowing my place in either one.

Sometimes I walk a fine line of not wanting to disappoint my parents in being too happy in Munich, despite the fact I know they want me to be happy. I like to think I have a knack for focusing on the positive and seeing the bright side of things and living in Munich is no different. The prospect that I could stay there for a longer amount of time or forever is daunting to them. At times it's daunting to me as well. I get the itch for something new and different, despite knowing the quality of life will be tough to match.

It's extremely difficult not to have the answers over something as seemingly simple as where we will live. Most people choose stability in their lives, since we're creatures of comfort and routine, however I find myself going the opposite direction and questioning if that's normal or what is wrong with me. Life abroad isn't easy or straightforward, and at times it can get lonely, but every day is a challenge. I sometimes think that's what makes me thrive and keeps me appreciative of the simple things.

This past weekend was the reunion from my University, which is really a spectacular place. Everyone wanted to talk about life and what they have been doing. They had plenty of questions for me, including where Stefan was. It would have been so much nicer if he was here - everyone missed him and every little detail reminded me of our time together on campus where we met.

These are the people that I shared some of the most wonderful years of my life with, yet things are different. Some are married, some have children, and it's reality that we'll never go back to what we had - living in a neighborhood with our closest friends or staying up all hours of the night to talk with few cares or problems. The lessons I learned are still profound. I still prefer experiences as opposed to things and think time spent with people is the most important gift to give.

I'd rather go to an intimate dinner and share a meaningful conversation than go to a house party and drink cheap beer out of plastic cups or eat cheap pizza late into the night, but for one weekend it's nice to play college again. I love to appreciate our experiences that helped to shape us into who we are.

While I'm home I have the quintessential questions about when I'd be moving back, how well I speak German, or how we can afford to travel to so much. Below the surface there's so much more. The experiences that I've been given, or chosen for that matter, have really shaped me.

Through my German classes I've had to interact with so many cultures and speak with so many people who are facing similar, yet entirely different struggles. That is something most of my American friends have never and will never encounter. I admit that I do find it difficult to talk about world issues with so many people who have no interest in traveling for whatever reason. It's difficult to explain that the world is much larger than their hometown or trying to tell people about my classmates who have come from Iraq or another asylum seeking country without sounding haughty. I love learning from others and I realize I'm often the first American some people have ever met.

It quickly makes me realize that life is full of choices and priorities. My choice has been to share my life with someone I love and to learn about the world by experiencing it first hand. I have an inner need to take life in until it makes me want to cry, but I really wouldn't want it any other way.

The emotional roller coaster of saying hello and goodbye to the people that I love the most will never get easier, but slowly I do consider the fact that's the price I have to pay to be between two cultures. While most of my friends do live in the US, they don't get the privilege to visit friends and family for weeks at a time. It's easier to take things for granted when it's never been any different. That's a luxury that I don't have, but another reason that makes me so sure of my choice in choosing the life that I do. My friends, on the other hand, get to appreciate never having to miss things or to feel slightly misplaced as if they are on the outside looking in.

Everything reiterates how incredibly happy I am and I still feel the same way as when I graduated from college. I'm excited to share my enthusiasm for life with the world and yearn to help others.


Caitlin said...

This is a great post, Emily. I know where you're coming from. I know it so well! On a lighter note, your photos of the house parties remind me so so so much of my college days. I don't really want to go back to them but it makes me smile thinking of them.

Emily said...

I totally agree. I was happy seeing everyone and visiting, but I'm very content with my life now. You'll have to get back to Ohio one of these days!