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Final Thoughts

Jacob Wunsh, Contemporary Berlin, Summer 2011

And so my summer ended. I’ve been home for six weeks now, and college has begun to pick up where it left off. As I acclimate myself once again to the swing of things at Northwestern, however, I have not altogether forgotten my experiences in those nine weeks in Germany. I still yearn to speak the language. I miss the friends that I made in classes. I even miss grocery shopping and cooking for myself, although I never would have guessed so before I left. I miss my roommate, and I miss the trains. I miss our professors, and I miss the beer. But perhaps most of all, I miss the feeling of Germany. I miss the feeling of being on my own and independent. I miss the Pfand on bottles; I miss the friendly “Hallo!” addressed to me in the bakery. I miss it all, good and bad. My summer in Germany was a life changing one, and I hope I never lose this feeling of gratitude for the opportunity I was given. I hope I never lose this nostalgia. I hope I never forget what I did there, and the friends that I made. More than anything, I hope I can go back. Maybe not next year, maybe not the year after that. But some day. Some day I will go back to Germany, and I will revisit the places that I once slept—reenter the restaurants at which I once ate. “I’ll do it all again!” I think to myself. And yet I know that I won’t. I won’t see things the same way I did the first time I was there. I won’t have the same experiences either. Not because Germany will be different—although that certainly will be the case—but because I will be different. I am already a different man now than I was when I boarded my plane in June. I recycle. I’m more American. I’m excessively frugal. Germany did, quite seriously, change who I am. Never before did I consider the Holocaust as anything more than a fact in a history book. Never before did I think of foreigners as anything other than different. Never before was I so open-minded about the food that I eat—mostly because my alternative was starvation.

And so, you see, Germany was more to me than a summer vacation. It was more than a term abroad, and it was more than a few classes conducted in another language. Germany, to me, was a stepping-stone. My time there allowed me to improve upon the person that I was, and helped me move towards the person that I am still striving to be. I am forever grateful for the experiences that I had this past summer, and—if I can help it—I, just like Berlin, will never forget.

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