two months

That’s how long I’ve been back in the USA. Two months! On one hand, the time is flying by – I can’t believe it has been two months already! On the other hand, time is creeping along… there is still more than one month until a special someone comes to visit! Time is always funny like that.

The first two weeks or so I got to rest and relax, see family, and get moved into my home in Atlanta.

Beautiful Kentucky horse farm
My new room in Atlanta

Once I got back to work and back to school, I’ve fallen into quite the routine.

Monday I work.

Tuesday I have class.

Wednesday I work and then have class.

Thursday I have class.

Friday I work.

That’s life.

People have been asking about reverse culture shock. There were the things I noticed as soon as I got to the airport in Philadelphia, like the high noise level and the (lack of) escalator etiquette. Other things I have realized gradually, over time. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been able to realize some of the things that I liked so much about life in Germany, what I miss, and in some cases have tried to intentionally make those things a part of my life here. Some examples…

  • Transportation. In the US, I always feel like I have to exercise to stay fit, but in Germany I was more active than ever – it was just a fact of life because of public transportation and biking. Being back here and driving daily makes me really miss walking, the ability to read in the subway, not buying gas… But it is also nice to have the freedom of a car. This fall I am biking and taking the shuttle to Emory – not driving!
  • Trash separation and recycling. I learned in Germany that this doesn’t have to be hard at all, especially if the infrastructure is in place. In Germany, there were 4 or 5 different containers in the kitchen, and everyone was just in the habit of separating the trash. At Emory and with my housemates we recycle too. I’m glad they already had the system in place when I moved in, so I could keep up this practice that I became used to in Deutschland.
  • Breakfast. The most important meal of the day, in Germany, was a daily sit-down meal for me. I always took the time to go to the dining hall for breakfast, to chat with people or read while eating and drinking two cups of coffee, then would go back upstairs to my room to finish getting ready for the day. Since I’ve been back, I’ve remembered the habit of eating on the run, which I’ve done for so long. I miss the slow breakfasts every time I take my toast and coffee with me to-go. I still haven’t gotten the hang of doing breakfast right since I’ve been back.

Those seem relatively insignificant. Nothing super earth-shattering… but the mundane, daily things like transportation, trash and breakfast are the things that remind me that I’m in a different place.

What may be the hardest about the transition back is the pace of life associated with being a student in the US and in Germany. Being a student here is about late nights, impossible reading loads, cramming for tests, and constantly meeting deadlines. (The time-crunch is compounded if you work too!) My student experience in Germany provides quite a contrast. I had time to study AND to invest in friendships, to sing in the choir and take dance class, to read for fun, to do arts and crafts, to take long walks, to cook, to visit museums, to travel on the weekends, to go to bed at a reasonable hour… I could keep going.

I like life here too. I have good friends, colleagues, co-workers. I like my classes. I like eating good Mexican food. But I miss the balance that I had in my year in Germany.

The past year spent abroad is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given! Now I’m (re)learning how to live and love the life I’ve been gifted with here.

1 thought on “two months

  1. Thanks for sharing this Meredith. We miss you and might try to sneak back in J's suitcase. Here at COe we just celebrated Erntedank, and I thought about the service last year, and my dad's comment about “Andy does tend to be the loud one.” Made me laught.


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