Fact: I am emotional.
The last week of exchange has been absolutely wonderful, and absolutely emotional. And thereby absolutely exhausting. One of the many things I've learned this year is how to be more open about my emotions and that has definitely been unlocked ten-fold this week because of the number of goodbyes that I've been saying. I really don't know how to begin writing this post because mostly I am just sad. I am of course excited to go home and see all of the people and things that I have missed this year, but leaving is just sad.
Today I left Porta Westfalica and will be spending the next two days an hour away from Frankfurt, where I will fly out from on Sunday morning. More specifically, I left my house about twenty minutes ago and am driving with my family on the Autobahn, hoping not to crash and die because Germans do not mess around with driving. This means I finished crying about twenty minutes ago because leaving this place has probably been the worst part of my exchange year. Which in and of itself is a good thing because it means I have had an amazing year- the unfortunate other side of that is that that doesn't make leaving easier. I'm excited to be driving to Frankfurt because we will be attending a golden anniversary celebration and that's cool and exciting, but it is strange to have said goodbye to my friends, school, and town, but still have time here. In some ways, I think it is good because I said goodbye to my friends and town separately, and I can say goodbye to my host family this weekend. On the other hand, goodbyes are awful so none of that is pleasant.
This week was a very, very, *very* stressful one. There was lots to pack and do, and lots of people and things to say goodbye to. On Tuesday, I had my last performance in Germany at my school's Summer Fest. I was part of the organization team and was at school from 9 am to 2 am. It was quite the adventure. It was a great last event to be apart of, but it also marked some first goodbyes with some of my best friends here. Several of my teachers and friends stayed extra at the fest just to hear me play and that really meant a lot to me. I'm definitely going to miss my school.
Link to performance: https://goo.gl/photos/2Spr9zYvhZUBYSbJ9
Wednesday was my last day of school and we had the Bundesjugendspiele, which I do not fully understand. Basically, the entire school had to perform in several different athletic events for the whole day, and I think at the end each school has a national rank. I'm really not sure, but I think it's something along those lines. After school that day, I went with a group of my best friends to eat Doner for the last time (curses on the USA for lacking this delicacy) and then had my host mom pick me up because I didn't want to ride the bus while crying. Leaving is really hard! I have cried a lot about this. It is extremely strange to try and pack up a whole life into a suitcase and to recognize that coming back is not going to be the same.
On Thursday, school was off because of a Catholic holiday (I'm still not on board with the idea that Germany has a full separation of Church and State...) Regardless, I really had to pack. So instead I took a long nap to avoid packing. One of my friends came over once I told her this news and made me hardcore pack which was good. Major shoutout to loyal German friends because this girl helped me get it done. Sleeping in an empty room last night was weird and sad, but the dog slept in my bed for the last time and that was nice because dogs. Today I woke up, packed final things like toiletries, closed my bank account, put my luggage in the car, and now I'm writing what is likely my last post from Germany. I will write again this weekend if I have the chance, but I doubt I will have time as I will be spending my last days here with family. I'm in no place to write a real reflection on this year right now so I will get that done as soon as possible, probably once I'm back in the States.
In summary, mostly I have been a mess this week. And that's okay! It's been heartwarming in a weird way to know that people here will miss me as much as I will miss them. Many of my friends made really meaningful goodbye gifts for me that reminded me of how valuable this year has been for me. Pictures to follow. :)
To be completely stereotypical and cliche: goodbyes are difficult and sad, but it is, in a way, an absolute privilege to have it be so hard to say goodbye to something to meaningful. I'm still working on accepting this, but I think I'll get there. I'll write more soon!
German Vocab Word of the Day: die Goldene Hochzeit (golden anniversary, 50 years)