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.