A Study Abroad Winding Down

Classic ICE night

Classic ICE night

Random Observation/Comment #206: There’s always a level of sadness during transitions.  I’ve found that I’m always looking for excitement, yet I deep down yearn for a conservative state of equilibrium.  No matter how much I reject these routines, I desperately cling on to creating a new familiarity.  When you’ve grown accustom to the freedom and the friendly faces, it’s hard to let go and move to that next phase.  It’s hard to say good-bye – and not to Germany or the lifestyle of vacations, but of newly found friends.  I could come back to Hamburg, but it would definitely not be the same without the people that has made this trip incredible.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my writings about Hamburg, I had created an interesting group of friends from different countries throughout this 5 month study.  Their openness to mingle allowed the single Chinese American loner to tag along and par-take on their adventures.  From birthday parties to ICE nights, we lived the life that all college students would envy.  We made excuses for our stupidity and, honestly, would do it again in a heartbeat.  I think I speak for all of us when I say that this trip has been an eye-opener in so many ways.

I’ve already written about the Hungarian group [] that left just last month, and I already miss them so much (especially Sushi).  With the exception of the people who lived in my apartment (who I posted last entry), I present my small little tribute.

The (North and South) American group includes Matt, Matt, Dave, Francisco, Fernando (it’s okay that he’s from Brazil and dresses better than all of us), and Sarah (it’s okay that she’s from Canadia).  Their weekly Tuesday ICE nights basically represent the essence of their trip.  Any questionable activity is usually validated by the fact that we’re studying abroad and we should do this because we can.  It reminds me of that speech about how we’re privileged with the opportunity to party, so we must do so to fulfill those lost dreams of the less fortunate.  If we didn’t take advantage of our situations, we might as well stay satisfied as minimalists.  Needless to say, this group knows how to have a good time and the fluency of broken English slang really reminds me of home.  It’s a nice comparison because now home will always remind me of Reeperbahn.

The Spanish group includes Marta, Elena, and Diana, all of whom have been absolutely wonderful and a pleasure to party with.  It’s interesting how their Spanish fiesta spirit perspiring on the dance floor is actually palpable in the air.  I can tell they’re exhausted by the end of the night, but they could easily go until morning.  It’s this type of enthusiasm for just dancing instead of heavily drinking (although that usually follows) that keeps a separate charm.

The Finnish group includes Sakari, Maria, Miia, Leena, and Mai.  I’ve grown accustomed to their absolutely mind-boggling language – I just take it as a nice gurgling sound, and I just smile whenever they look over.  It seems the ladies prefer mixed drinks and hockey more than anything else in the world.  In fact, watching a hockey game with some redbull vodkas would be a recipe for a wonderful summer afternoon or third date.  I’ve mostly met up with this group in more chill atmospheres, like 2PM beers at the park or 4PM beers during a picnic.  A pre-game bottle of vodka mixed within a coca cola bottle starts the night, and a group of fun-loving Fins with a smile on their faces, finishes it.

The Misc group is placed within this section for the more random conversations that are not necessarily related to any group party scenes.  Marchin and Phillip are interesting engineers with a similar passion towards improving the world.  Together, we form a normal engineering group with the normal engineering view of parties and basically all activities.  We’re always thinking about something else in our multiprocessor brains, but we follow the flow of partying to observe and occasionally intervene in some social experiments.   I think we find it awkward, yet enjoyable, but I’m sure we would rather be doing some calculations and estimation applications to everyday things.  It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who calculates the total price of shopping lists or random traveling distances and costs on the spot (and then get a sense of satisfaction when the estimations are close).  Steph is a wonderful photographer with the Canadian friendliness underneath a fierce tiger (I’m just assuming from all of the pictures I take of her).  She’s doing her best to explore Europe and share it in whichever artistic way she can.  I give her kudos for picture taking and sepia tone.  Scott is allergic to fruit, which I still can’t get over.  Cecilia – oh Cecilia – by weekday you’re a dedicated student and friendly smile, but by weekend you’re rocking out in some random country in Europe to pure metal/core.  It’s always the innocent ones that transform into the crowd-surfing, stage diving (if you’re lucky), air punching, two-stepping wild animals in the pit or swaying at the front.  I’ve missed those days, and we definitely need to see a show together sometime.

Socializing with these interesting characters from every corner (of the flat map taped to my apartment wall) helped us each peer into our own futures.  There’s so much more freedom in this world than we were fooled with the high school 9 periods a day and college scheduled classes.  Yes, we have to adjust to other people’s times to be organized, but your free time is where you grow.

In essence, what we decide to do with this free time defines who we are.  Without the willingness to connect with people, explore our interests, and constantly question our environment, we are just breathing, eating, and shitting with a set routine.  I’ve learned what it means to live here in Hamburg, and I know that everything I do from here forward is to support my new goals.

I want more than anything to return to Europe and visit all the travel acquaintances I’ve met on this journey.  In almost every country in Europe, we’ve grown contacts for at least a cup of coffee and a day of exchanging stories.  For these offers, I am the most grateful.  I hope all of you know that you have the same luxury for New York.  Please feel free to ask.

~See Lemons Miss Being Abroad