Well, das war’s. My last day in Germany, now already vorbei. And I think, having spent the last couple day rather pleasantly, the time has come for a more positive reflection that was objectively a good year. It is hard to sum up a year in a few paragraphs, yet I feel like that is precisely the task at hand. So where to begin?
I guess at the beginning. Hard to believe my time here began already nearly 10 months ago. How fast a year can go, especially when you average one week of vacation per month. Literally, as I think about it, there was not a single calendar month this year that I didn’t have at least some vacation time. Welcome to Bavaria. My first months here were spent adjusting. Adjusting to a new place, a new job, new people, a new rhythm. I lived damals in Erlangen, the city of 100,000 where I worked. I had lovely flatmates, though my days there were numbered, as I only had the room for the first two months. After such a busy summer, it was nice to have a bit of downtime. I spent my weekends in Nuremberg with Julia, ran a hell of a lot (including a half-marathon), cooked and baked plenty, ploughed through an 850 page economics textbook, and took and passed the Foreign Service test.
Brittney came at the end of the time, and I left Erlangen as may place of residence together with her, heading to Switzerland with her. From there I continued on to Rachel, where I spent a lovely three days in Lyon and on the Côte d’Azur, before moving on to Rome and Florence with Daniel. With a victory lap planned for my 23rd birthday in Berlin, which was nicely timed to enjoy the twentieth anniversary of the wall.
Then, already mid-November, it was time to move into my new flat in Nuremberg. November passed quickly—thanks to holidays and scheduling problems, I worked almost not all that month. Quickly I made my connections—Wednesday dinners quickly became the rule, which brought me closer to Alex, Sarah, and Alex’s flatmates. Not to mention giving me an excellent outlet for my baking creativities. And with December came a heavy visitors’ calendar—Ulrike, Daniel, and Marina all surfaced in Nuremberg over the course of a couple weeks. And I even had time for some of my own visiting—first to Jan in Prague. And then I had a fabulous Christmas holiday, thanks to the gracious hospitality of the families of both Julia and Tom. And I can’t say the most important outcome of that break, a very happy (albeit ultimately ill-fated) four-month long distance relationship, didn’t have its advantages. In fact, I would say it largely got me through what would have been otherwise an interminably long, cold winter.
January brought the return of classes, not to mention the coming of another string of visitors. I met up with Kate for a weekend in Prague (and Kutna Horá), followed by some days in Nuremberg. We in turn met up with Alisa and Michelle in Munich and spent a lovely weekend in the Alps, before the latter two came back to Nuremberg and enjoyed the full Franconia tour—to Bamberg, Würzburg, and Aschaffenburg. Considering I spent the week after that cross-country skiing with my seventh graders, January was over before I knew it.
Which meant only one thing: then next vacation was about upon me. After the dissolution of my plans to go to Vienna, I wound up in one of the most fabulous trips in my life to date. Namely, a week and a half in Turkey and Georgia, mostly with Harvard friend Gill. The trip took me from Trabzon, on the Turkish Black Sea coast, to Batumi, on the Georgian side, then to Tblisi, up north to Gadauri for skiing, then to Istanbul via Ankara, meeting up with people along the way. It was hard to return back.
But back I went, in time for the next run of visitors. My sister came shortly after I returned from Turkey, and we spent a lovely weekend in Berchtesgaden, near Salzburg, followed by a nice week in Nuremberg, concluding in Munich. There in Munich, I picked up Calvin, a friend from my Berlin days, and he stayed a week with me before we headed north to Berlin together with the other area teaching assistants for our Fulbright conference. Nice to spend most of a week in Berlin on Fulbright’s budget.
From Berlin, I headed off on my two week Easter break, stopping first to visit Tom and others in Boston. After most of a week in Boston, I was home, also for most of a week. And then, I divided the rest of my time in the states between DC and NYC, where I rendezvoused with a whole assortment of friends from my various past lives. I flew back to Munich, and for the first time in my life, I was not at all happy to be trading left of the Atlantic for right of it.
April brought lovely weather to Bavaria, and the end of the month took me to visit Mirjam in Scotland, where a lovely weekend was spent in Glasgow, on the Isle of Arran, and in Edinburgh. And hardly had I returned than when Caroline showed up for an impromptu visit to Germany, which was a welcome distraction from certain developments that had begun around the time I had gone to Scotland. Her visit overlapped with Alana’s, who also spent several lovely days in Bavaria with me.
After Alana’s visit, it was only a matter of time before vacation was staring me right in the face once again, this time in the form of a two week break for Pentecost.This particular break kicked off with a visit from Rachel, who received a proper introduction to Bavaria in the form of a beer festival, tours of Nuremberg and Munich, and a hike in the Alps. From there, the road pointed onwards to Vienna, where I rendezvoused with Alex (and, briefly, Sarah) before taking off on a train to Venice, where I met my mother for a week of traveling in Slovenia. By the time we returned to Nuremberg, my grandfather was also in town, kicking off several days of strolls down the lanes of his memory.
The break drew to a close and it was time to go back to school. But with three weeks to departure, my mind was focused more than ever on the door. June was nice—the weather finally improved (slightly), giving me time to enjoy some time with my flatmates and friends. I received visits from Julia and Marina, and the World Cup took off, taking any remaining free time with it. As the days grew longer, my days grew shorter, and finally, it was time for my goodbyes.
So, with that, I close another chapter of my adventures. In true form, I am kicking the next one off with a 3-capital tour, beginning in Prague and continuing on to Astana via Kyiv. With a few hours to go, I am done. And as I think back on this year, I have no regrets about the way I chose to spend it, the people I chose to spend it with, the places I chose to go, and the decisions I made. It was, in fact, an excellent year. Which seems to be a very good way to be heading out. So long, Germany!