It has been exactly one month since I left Berlin and it is only two days before I return to Evanston and to campus to prepare for the new year ahead of me. As I pack and say hello and goodbye to all my friends, family members, neighbors, cats, Mt. Rainier, the Pacific Ocean, and all the little (and big!) things that make this my home, I am spurred to consider how my idea of home in itself has changed.
Before college, the only place I considered to be “home” was the town in which I grew up– Everett, Washington. I am not particularly fond of my hometown, but it is home and it is where my family are and will therefore always be my home. Then after moving to school I found myself occasionally slipping and calling Evanston or my dorm or campus “home” (much to my Mother’s chagrin, I must add). And now, after spending 8 weeks living and studying in Berlin, I can already picture myself calling Berlin “home”, too. The streets quickly felt natural under my feet, the diverse and lively community felt like one I could find family in, and the late nights up with friends or out in the city or by the river felt second-nature. I went to Berlin a curious explorer, an avid learner, and a lover of culture and language, but not someone who thought that I could ever truly belong outside of my home country bubble. Berlin subverted my expectations, in that sense, by making me fall in love with it everyday as I grew more courageous, more aware, more willing to speak up for myself and what I need, and more content to sit and sit and sit in a garden and just let life happen without phones or distractions or somewhere to be. The German word for “home” is “Heimat”, and I truly feel that although we just barely met, Berlin could be my Heimat someday just like Evanston, just like Everett. Below is the final picture I took in Berlin on the tarmac of Schonefeld airport– I like to think that the beautiful sunrise I was able to capture is a little hint that my journey in and with Berlin, and Germany, is just beginning still.