How was your time abroad? It’s the question that most find completely reasonable to ask; however the question that I can’t bear to truly answer. Whenever I am asked that question I feel an ambushed blur come over me. A quick slideshow of my yearlong life in Berlin and adventures around Europe speeds through my mind. I can’t find the words to describe or transfer my experiences to someone else in just a simple answer. However, with a generic answer I reply: “it was amazing.” I wish it were another way, and I wish the question were less vague. Often times I get it from acquaintances, people who I haven’t spoken to in a year. It starts with an odd look down Van Meter, and then the realization that I have been living a whole other life hits them; well at least it stares me right in the face. We then go about our hellos and I almost always say: “I was in Berlin for the past year,” just to ease the discomfort when they don’t remember where I have been and for how long. Not to say that I expect them to know; however, the past few weeks have been sort of a catch up period.
I understand that I am now dealing with the repercussions of deciding to live abroad for the past year. Suddenly I am a senior in a community where I was last a sophomore, my advisor has gone on sabbatical without telling me, one of my best friends graduated a year early, Julia Rogers is now an actual building, and Pearlstone is unexpectedly selling Indian food, bags of carrots and rice-cakes. Not to give you a detailed list of all of the changes in my life or things I have recently noticed; however, the fact of the matter that life post-abroad isn’t always a picture perfect transition, should be noticed around our community. The reality is that people and places change and as mind-blowing as that is and as much as I have dealt with this throughout my personal life, it is something I am going to continue to deal with as I try to re-navigate the new person that I am and how that fits in with my old life in Baltimore.
I know that it will take some time to re-establish my identity as well as come up with a better answer or way of describing my time abroad, since as of right now it is incoherent. However, when I was talking to a fellow senior about my back from abroad piece that you are reading now, his answer to the question I asked in the beginning of the article made me feel a little better. His response: “You’ve got a cigarette, a box of wine, and 42 minutes? This one is going to be a doozy.” Still laughing as I write this, it is nice to know I am not the only one who replies with a mysterious answer.