As I’m writing this, my time in Freiburg and Germany is quickly coming to an end, and honestly, it’s the last thing I want to think about.
The reality has slowly started to creep in that in less than three weeks, I’ll have to leave this place that’s become home to me. Conversations between my friends and me now start to include questions about what plans we have once we get back; the dreaded start of packing everything up again is here: classes are starting to wrap up … and if I’m being honest, I hate it.
I always knew that my time here had to come to an end eventually, and I dreaded it, but I know that this isn’t my final goodbye to Freiburg or Germany; if you ask anyone here, they would tell you, “Yeah, she’s definitely coming back here after graduation.” So, with that, I am going to try to encapsulate this life-changing experience in words, but how do you do that? You don’t.
No words can ever describe the feeling of sitting under the bright Freiburg sun, so content with life, cracking a cold beverage with your friends, and blasting music as you enjoy and share life’s small moments with the city around you. The feeling of sheer joy and pride as you communicate without any more shame or fear in the native language—and knowing that when people come up to you for directions, you’re able to guide them.
How can you describe the feeling of seeing the blooming flowers smiling up at you as you make your daily commute to class and the leaves that hug every turn and entrance you make as you walk back to your apartment? The sensation of actually enjoying the little things in life for the first time and feeling the happiest you’ve been in a while.
After talking with others in my program, I’ve realized that our time abroad marks various milestones, turning points, and beginnings in our lives. While our time together in this wonderful city and country is coming to an end for now, a new beginning is coming: the beginning of discovering what we truly want out of life; the beginning of realizing what we want out of our relationships; and, for some of us, the beginning of learning how to be happy and put ourselves first.
As I look back on my time here, I can’t help but think about the perfect timing of this study abroad experience. This year marks the last of my teen years and my entry into my 20s, and now, because of my experiences here, the beginning of my personal growth journey. Yeah, yeah, I’m now that person who preaches the cliché about how much their study abroad experience has changed not only their life but their perspective on it. But what’s so bad about that?
I’m leaving this city having experienced joy, heartbreak, sadness, freedom and just pure contentment, and I wouldn’t change this semester for anything else in this world. While I’m dreading the inevitable end of this semester here, I know I’m going back to the States with new perspectives that I can’t wait to share with people back at UT.
I know I’m coming back as a new person, but I’m not gonna lie: I think I like this Jackie better, and I think she’s here to stay. And to Freiburg and Germany and all the wonderful people I’ve met: This isn’t goodbye, but a bis später.
This post was contributed by Jackie Cheng, a Global Ambassador for Spring 2022. Jackie is an International Relations & Global Studies and Sociology double-major studying abroad in Freiburg, Germany. Read Jackie’s first post here.