Deutschland, ich komme!
I have made the decision to return to the place of my upbringing after I graduate from Oregon State University. Approximately one month from now I will be walking at my commencement ceremony and two short days later I will be boarding an airplane to embrace my new home in Munich, Germany.
This is going to be a rather interesting adventure for me. Although I grew up in the Munich area, I left there when I was only 12 years old and in the past 11 years that I have spent in the US, I have, for all intents and purposes, become very americanized. I have visited Munich many times since moving to the US, but it has only been as a tourist. I have spent the last 5 years or so brushing up my German skills and will be receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in German (language and culture/history/literature) this June. I won’t be going through the culture shock experienced by most expatriates, however this is indeed going to be a major change in my life.
I have done a lot of soul-searching throughout my time in College. If nothing else, I have learned a lot about myself. In studying German, I have learned a great deal about the English language. In studying German culture I have learned a great deal about the American culture. It’s funny how that happens. In drinking American beer, I have learned to really appreciate German beer. 😉
When looking back over the last 6 years since graduating high school, my first thought is that I didn’t really learn anything at University. It is just a huge bureaucratic mess that tries to shuffle as many students through it as possible so they can take our money. I definitely didn’t end up where I started out. I have changed my major more times than some people change their clothes in a week. I have changed my views on life many times and my interests have changed significantly from when I first started. So looking back and realizing that I spent an enormous amount of money on a degree that probably won’t relate much to my chosen career path at first is a little disheartening. But taking a step back from this initial thought, I realize that I wouldn’t go back to change any part of it, given the chance. I have learned a great deal about Business, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Liberal Arts. But mainly, I have learned about myself. I now know what I don’t want to do with my life. I’m still not sure what I do want to do, but I know where I want to start out. That is the first big step. It took me 6 years to figure that out, but along the way I have met some amazing people. In the last few years I have made friendships that will probably last a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So in the last month that I am here, I have really taken some time to think about life in America. The things I will miss, the things I won’t. Of course people say the grass is always greener on the other side. I look forward to moving to Germany and somewhere deep down I think that everything will be perfect and I won’t ever look back. Well these were my thoughts 11 years ago, when I decided to move to America with my mother in the first place. At first everything was great and fun. A new culture to get used to, new people, new school. But I started missing things about Germany. Things that were more important than Root Beer or Dr. Pepper (hope I can find that stuff in Germany). At this point in my life, my friends hear me raving about the great food/beer/cities in Germany, but really that stuff isn’t worth moving to another country for. And I would hate to try to convince someone that they should move to Germany because they have better beer. Everyone has to do what is going to make them happy. As a third-culture kid, I can only say that home is where the heart is. I find myself disgruntled with American laws and politics frequently (will devote a separate blog post for that), but I think at this point in my life, my main reasons for leaving are family, friends, and career opportunity. Food, Beer and Fun are a close second. I think this will be a great opportunity for me to really reconnect with my father, see my brother frequently and hopefully be a part of my little sister’s life. She is 7 now and I have only spent very little time with her in her short life. Some of my best friends that I have made in college have somehow found their way over to Europe. In fact, all my friends are leaving Corvallis this summer, so I won’t be missing anything here (other than my mom, of course). So I’ll be leaving all that is familiar behind here, but I think my heart is in Munich right now. I will be closer to some of my family, I will be closer to most of my friends, I will be enjoying a brand new life German-style. I have re-established contact to some of my friends from grade school in Munich. It will be interesting to see what these people are like now, if we still have anything in common. Yes, it will be a great adventure indeed.
So for now I am trying to make the most of my final month in Corvallis. I will be spending a lot of time with some close friends here, and my mother, and I will be taking a small trip to visit my grandmother before I go. Aside from that, most of my time will be spent preparing for a move across the ocean. I can only take the bare minimum with me, so selling stuff and giving stuff away and asking my mom to store some stuff for me has been a little sad. But I am excited for what might await me in the new city. I am mostly bummed that my toaster oven won’t be coming along with me.
That is all for now. Goodbye, Corvallis! Germany, here I come!