17 Days, 17 Memories
It’s difficult to grasp that my time abroad has whittled its way down to just 17 more days in the culturally incredible and free city of Berlin. Much like how I counted the many “firsts” of my study abroad adventure, I sadly start counting my “lasts” in the same manner. This weekend marks my last weekend trip of the semester as I travel to Florence, Italy. We celebrated the last birthday of my friend group last night, basking in the merriness of good food and good company, and too soon it will be my last night in our room and last coffee in the lobby cafe before I catch my flight. However, I choose to count on the positives, and present the 17 memories I’m thankful for this past couple months.
- Summertime biking through the Tiergarten and climbing the Victory Column; a “Babson” excursion when the weather was still warm and sun didn’t go down at 4pm.
- Connecting with old friends and delicious coffee; I discovered one of the students from my high school is also studying in the same institute, except for Northeastern University’s freshman abroad program and we were able to chat! A surprise from home- and bonding from hometown to home away from home. Bonus: He showed me an awesome local coffee shop!
- Paddleboating in Prague; a small Babson reunion in Prague included paddle-boating on the river to fully experience the beautiful architecture.
- Networking abroad; we attended a Boston Consulting Group guest panel for one of my classes and I ended up meeting a ton of cool and passionate people in the startup world!
- Our neighborhood bar; it’s an unusual feeling being of drinking age here, but we found a classic neighborhood spot and beloved hangout spot of past generations of CIEE students. We made some of our first memories here and will definitely will not be leaving without one more *cheers*.
- Thanksgiving: this was my first Thanksgiving away from home, but our “family” made me just as thankful with a homemade meal including my favorite, mashed potatoes, and weekend trip to Hamburg with delicious spread of a turkey dinner and rich history.
- This one isn’t a memory from here, but it’s how the morning of my flight my neighbors-but-more-like-siblings came to send me away at 7am and have kept in touch through Facetime and chats. Grateful to spend the holiday season back with them!
- Christmas Markets; had the best hot chocolate of my life at Hamburg’s Christmas Market next to the iconic Rathaus (City Hall in German!) The Christmas spirit here leaves something to be desired of back home.
- Visitors; with so many Babson students studying in Europe, having weekend visitors is a great way to be a tourist again
- Packing Crash Course; I’m a notorious overpacker, and often having to leave for trips last minute and with minimal space has taught me to consolidate and choose what’s necessary (toothbrush is a yes, 2 pairs of extra shoes is a no)
- A future abroad; I didn’t think much about actually spending a large chunk of my life abroad but after being a resident in Berlin, it’s made me realize I am going to come back to Europe for at least a year and work and live instead of just staying domestic in the US.
- Prioritizing: having so much free time here has made me miss the hustle and bustle of a regular Babson student, but also pushed me to prioritize my tasks when I get back.
- Education: although Babson students are pass/fail here, the value of class is definitely not lost on me. However, it has made me appreciate the deeper level of analysis and work that professors at home push us to achieve. It’s difficult to compete with that with the short 6-week classes here.
- Creative space; being artistic here is celebrated here, from the crazy wall murals to the edgy fashion. This is a sentiment I will carry home with me that won’t break the luggage weight limit.
- Community space; similarly, Berliners value community. There are an abundance of cafes and co-working spaces here that facilitate good conversations and new ideas. In the lobby of our building, we always hang out by the fireside or at the family style table to do work or just talk.
- Music: it is the soundtrack to our lives and feeds our souls in a way that the other senses cannot do alone. The music scene here is huge, with a focus on deep house and electronic stylized music, with some of the best DJs in the world.
- My friends here: I’ve always valued people and being able to share some life changing experiences and trips with great company is truly unforgettable. Our program has gotten so close even though we come from completely different backgrounds. Looking back at all the pictures and videos there’s a common theme: we are all just stupidly happy. Even when you’re having a bad day being able to call an amalgamation of people I met in an entirely different country my family is what makes Berlin feel like home.
It is easy to look back on all the wonderful memories and feel a sense of longing and sadness to be back in the moment. However, I think the most valuable lesson from studying abroad is that doesn’t matter. Being fearful of never having even better times is unrealistic because there is always more to experience and each memory could be better than the last.