Reflecting Thoughts on a Year Abroad

Samar and I @ Brooklyn Bridge
Sushi Bar Tribeca
Magnolia Bakery

My second year in New York has come around about 2 and a half months ago. It’s weird how it differs from the first 12 months over here.

The first year abroad was crazy, chaotic, and stuffed with one event after another. Every season had its different highlights, and different things to do. Especially this time of the year was very eventful. First of all, it was the beginning 3 months, and so much exploring, job-seeking, apartment-hunting, friend-making had to be done. Just the thought of having to stay in my apartment for longer than necessary made me feel at unease because I was convinced I would be missing out on life outside. To give the weather some credit, it was one of the most amazing early springs and summers you could dream of for your first stay in a new city. As far as I remember, the end of April and the beginning of May were hitting it off well in the mid-80s (equivalent to 26 degrees Celsius and up). Just a beautiful atmosphere for sightseeing, wandering around, and discovering new parts in the City. Not to mention an early beach visit in April already and tanning by the end of May. You definitely couldn’t top that, even though it was the precursor for the many, consistent heat waves New York was suffering in 2010. At the same time Europe and specifically Germany was not having too much fun in their summer months, which made me appreciate NYC’s weather even more.

Second, it was also a time of turmoil and many deep reflections. The beginning phase was the most crucial one as it was about deciding on the length of my stay: It was up to either a six months time limit or a stay lasting one year and longer. As you can tell, I took the second option and am still here. But I have to admit that it is still a time of reflecting and thinking when it comes to determining how long I will be in New York. I know I will not stay forever or for long – those 8 years of New Yorkness I have seen in others scare the crap out of me.
It is up to the future, of course, and the opportunities that will come around. Finishing up with school is a crucial factor, which I cannot and will not push off for too much longer, and, therefore, it is just a matter of time when I will hit the road again. However, one of the initial feelings has stayed with me until now: The insecurity and indetermination when it comes to knowing when this experience and adventure will end. Which gives me a different feel for life over here. I consider it to be the base of a better, more positive outlook than the one I had before, especially when living in Germany. It gives me the strength and the perspective to appreciate everything that comes along and to see things in a brighter light, even though times are rough over here on occasion. I learned that the present moment is the most important part of our journey and that there is no need to place too much emphasis on the past and the future. Most of the things I need to be happy I already have or I am dreaming of. And dreams are there to be chased.

Third, the degree of contact is another thing I have come to notice in terms of relationships and keeping in touch with my friends from overseas: It has, sadly, diminished over the year, but, on the bright side, this doesn’t seem to affect our feelings we have for each other. I have had a few visitors over while being here. Some were friends I hadn’t seen in 3 years, mostly UWF folks

Sarah and I in Midtown

(thanks, Sarah for stopping by, reconnecting, and introducing me to Amanda!), some were acquaintances I hadn’t really been friends with from the beginning, some were family members who decided to reconnect on this part of the world (thanks, cousins!). Others were friends from Germany I hadn’t seen in a year and who I had known since kindergarten or high school. But I hadn’t had the chance to meet most of the folks from Europe again, since I haven’t paid my home a visit – yet. However, E-Mails and Skype helped a lot in the beginning. Not only in eliminating home sickness, but also in keeping each other updated on everyone’s progress and life. I have come to find, though, that those people who really want to stay in touch, always find a way to do so, and that those who have gone on to a different stage of life have found a way to lose sight. Which is perfectly fine, this is the normal cycle of friendship, I suppose. After one year it seems hard on both sides to keep writing updates and telling each other some new stuff. However, I know that I will always be able to rely on certain people, even though I haven’t heard from them in almost six months (yes, you know who I am talking about! haha). It is more important to be able to have a good time when meeting up again and feeling that, albeit many things have happened, not much has changed, and not much will affect the relationship. I am proud to say that I do have some friends who will fit into this category and this makes me master the hard times over here so much better.

The older I get, the more I come to see that it is easier to meet new people, start some small talk, and maybe even keep in touch than it was when I was younger. I have been able to find some new friends over here, too – some of which have stayed, some of which have gone back to their home country. However, I cannot shake of the impression that my purest and deepest friendships have their roots in the past and have been formed many years ago. Which makes the circumstance that I am still friends with some of these even more special. And if a visit to far-far-away has made me form this conclusion, it was definitely worth the trouble. I therefore thank you for being there, although you are not here in person. You have helped a lot!

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