Halftime - My first winter abroad
Looking back at two months full of new experiences
Hey, it´s me again.
After nearly 3 months of absence I´m back with another blog post. A lot has happened in the past months. Time is rushing, I´m already at the half of my volunteering experience. And at this point, people are starting to ask questions about your next plans again. Suddenly, you are starting to think about the future again. What will I do after this? How will it be like to quit life in this foreign country, which became a home to me, behind? How will it be like to get back in my old environment, where nothing has changed while I´ve changed so much?
It´s important not to start too late with thinking about your life back in your home country. At least for me. Having a plan about what to do next, something new to look up to, helps me to reduce my fear of falling into a sort of limbo when I will head back to the German countryside in 5 months.
But at the same time, it´s so important to not focus only on the end and the life after the ESC. Because in this case, you may wont realize how time is fading away. While spending all of your energy on speculating about the next step in your life, you might miss all of the amazing experiences you can still have in your remaining time abroad.
And because of this, in my blog entry I would like to take the time to look back at the past winter months in Czech Republic. So, let´s take a glance at December 2019.
Every year, for most peopele, the December is mainly about Christmas. Not for me. The December 2019 was the first time in my life that I experienced this month as a whole preparation for the big celebrations on the 24th,25th and 26th. From the beginning of the month, Christmas somehow became the topic everywhere I looked. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by Christmas decoration, disorientated in the middle of Christmas bakery or partying at another Pre-Christmas party. I spent hours on resaerching how we usually ceIebrate Christmas in Germany and held presentations about the Christmas traditions in my home country, which were partly as new too myself than to the students. I learned a lot of Czech Christmas carols and struggled to remember German and English Christmas songs. I wrapped endless Christmas gifts for partners of my organisation, decorated gingerbreads and tried to find my creativity while decorating christmas cards with all kind of stones, angels and snowflakes. With time, I got used to the confused faces of students, teachers and co-workers when I told them, that we usually didn´t have a Christmas tree or a big meeting with the whole family on our Christmas celebrations at home. This month was a really intense experience for me. Everyone was very open to share their personal Christmas habits with me and I was very curious to learn about all the different ways to celebrate and feelings towards this public holiday. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to dig into the world of Czech Christmas traditons and share the habits of my country with the people in Czech Republic.
But because I basically got to know the Czech and somehow also German Christmas at once, it was really a huge amount of information, impressions and events that pattered on me. At some point, I started to feel a bit lost between all of the conversations about which tree to get this year, funny family insiders that happened years ago or traumatic experiences with the Christmas mass because I couldn´t really contribute in these discussions. In the middle of the month, I already started to get a bit tired of the magic of Christmas.
Somehow, my two best friends here in Czech Republic seemed to realize that I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole Christmas spirit and excitement. So, they planned a small Christmas party in our dormitory to reactivate my lacking christmas excitement by organizing a totally relaxed and comfortable evening for me. It was a great surprise! I absolutely had no idea what was going on when I was entering the lovely decorated room, saw the provisoric christmas tree glued at the wall and found all the presents under it. I couldn´t believe my eyes! All in all, we´ve spent an amazing evening together and I definitely experienced my best christmas party of the year. And after this, my mood also went up again and as everyone else, I started to look forward to travel back home for the actual Christmas celebration.
So, a few weeks later I found myself back at the place, where this wole journey started: A small village in the middle of the beautiful bavarian countryside. My home. And although I couldn´t always imagine it, it felt so good to back. I haven´t realized how much I actually missed the fresh air, the endless green (yup, unfortunately green, not white) meadows and the peaceful silence. I enjoyed seeing my parents and my rabbits&guinea pigs again and shared a lot of my experiences from my first longer stay abroad with them. Also, I was very lucky to get the opportunity to meet a lot of my friends. It was relieving to see that we still got a long as if nobody ever left, although the lifes of most of us changed a lot. We´ve spent hours exchanging about our new lifes and looking back at the highschool-time, which seemed to lay years behind us.
But after 5 days at home, I was also happy to move on again to visit a for me so far completely unfamiliar place at a very special time: The New Year´s Eve in Vienna. Me and my roommate already arrived a few days before the New Year in Austria in order to see more of it´s capital city. And Vienna is defintely worth a visit! We were really impressed by the gorgeous architecture and the unique flair of the city. And because of all the discounts for youngsters on cultural events and places, it was possible for us to deeply experience Vienna: We visited the famous “Hundertwasser -Haus”and the museum belonging to it, mind-blowing castles and parks, the impressive "Prunksaal", a theater and a fotography exhibition. Especially for me, these days in Vienna will be never forgotten because I had the opportunity to do so many things like visiting an art or fotography museum as well as a theater there for the first time in my life. So, all together with thousands of people in front of the townhall, me and my roommate had a great start in the New Year 2020, which will definitely bring again alot of chances and changes in our lifes.
And so far, my own life started quite good. In January, I managed to get back to work after the holidays and was happy to be back home in Ostrava.Unfortunataly, me and two other volunteers lost our wallets one after each other in one week. At least, this annoying incident led to a nice day trip to Prague for two of us, because we had to get new passports at the German and French embassy.Also, me and my flatmate went to our midterm-meeting in a pretty little Czech town in the end of the month. As expected, it was a great experience: Together with other lovely volunteers from all around Czech Republic we experienced 4 days of discussion and reflection, exchanged our experiences about the life in our projects, got prepared for the second half of the volunteering year and also all together looked into the for most of us still uncertain future after our ESC´s.
After this training, I came back with a lot of motivation and a lot of ideas and wishes I want to fulfill in the remaining time. I´m starting to get more active on the weekends and try to enjoy my time to the fullest. And so far I can say, it´s working great!