When I got the email declaring that I will be studying abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany, I was beyond excited! However, from the point where I learned that I will be coming to Germany to the day I boarded the flight, it still didn’t seem real to me.
I went to the doctor, the dentist, the postal office to get a passport, etc. I did all of these little things, but it still didn’t feel real to me. When I boarded my first flight from LAX to JFK, I remember being really nervous, not because I was about to leave the country, but because it marked my first flight since I was an infant. Would I get nauseous? Would I be scared once we were up in the air? Would I get anxious if there was turbulence? All of these thoughts were in my head. Luckily, both my flights (LAX to JFK and JFK to Frankfurt) went well. It was only the landing that made me feel nauseated, but other than that it was good.
It was upon arrival at the Frankfurt airport as I headed to get my luggage that the moment finally hit me. I started to question everything. My thoughts went along the lines of: what am I doing? Why am I here? Why did I decide to study abroad? Can I really make it to Mannheim?
I guess you could say I got scared — scared of the unknown and what this trip was going to bring me.
Fast forward 10 months later.
I still might not be able to hold a conversation in German, yet Mannheim has become my home away from home. I feel safe, welcomed and overall content. I like walking around the city and coming across hidden cafés or restaurants (I came across a place that serves ramen that was really good). I like coming across random international students around Mannheim, and I like going to quadrat because there are just so many shops I can visit. There will be so many little things that I will miss.
My study abroad experience definitely put me out of my comfort zone, but I was determined since the beginning. I learned so much more about who I am as a person. I came across new things I like and dislike and I gained friendships with people all over the world.
It’s hard to believe that almost a year went by and I am almost done. I have less than a month left in Germany and it’s bittersweet. I want to go home and see my family, but at the same time there is still so much more to explore and discover. I don’t know when I will have the opportunity to travel in Europe again.
It sucks that the remainder of my time will be studying for finals, but I still plan to make the most out of the last few weeks in Mannheim. I will forever cherish the amazing people I had the pleasure of meeting these past two semesters.
We all don’t feel like it’s a goodbye, but more of a break. We are all very optimistic that we will somehow cross paths in the future.
Sayra Flores is a junior studying business management with an emphasis in human resources. She is studying abroad at University of Mannheim, Germany.