So this is my farewell, I guess. At least for now. Behind me lie eight months full of excitement, joy, laughter, fascination, stress, head-shaking, and feelings of being lost.
Exciting was living and studying in this pearl called Athens in this middle of nowhere, called Southeast Ohio. Dipping into this college-microcosm and experiencing all of its codes, traditions, festivities and rules is something I will (hopefully) never forget.
Joyous and full of laughter were the countless nights (and days) with the guys from our GLC class, who were among the kindest and most interesting people I got to know in this country. They truly made me accept Athens as my home for these eight months. Fest season, barbecues, playing Broomball and Flag Football, Cabin night, breakfast at Casa, the list is long.
Fascinating was my experience at the International Institute of Akron, the refugee resettlement organization I did my internship with. To see what outstanding work the men and women there did under immense pressure during these, especially for this sector, difficult times was a great motivation for me.
Stress – that’s what classwork often really meant, midterms, finals, and the time in between. I didn’t know that I could write four essays and do an oral exam in one week, and I just took twelve credits!
I was shaking my head numerous times, in cluelessness, anger, or both. A few examples include: Standing in front of the pink handguns on display in some clothing store in the Athens strip mall.
Driving behind someone on the highway who left his turn signal on for ten minutes. Being offered a beer for breakfast because “that’s totally German dude isn’t it?”
Feeling lost. To me that mostly occurred when driving through the endless suburbs of northeast Ohio. There seems to be nothing else besides flat houses with mowed lawns, strip malls, gas stations, chain-restaurants, and Walmart supercenters between Akron and Cleveland. And no matter where else you go in this country (at least from Louisiana to Illinois), these places all look the same.
So here I am, sweating at night in the outskirts of New Orleans near the Bayou. Over the last twelve days I have driven my car for over 2000 kilometers, hoping that it doesn’t break down, picked up my friend Max in Atlanta, and now we are on our way to Texas. I will muse about my time here and the impressions I gathered for quite some time.
Bottom line is it was one hell of a journey! And probably I’m going to come back one day for a visit. But now I’m looking forward to three weeks in Mexico with no cell reception or Wi-Fi, and then I’ll finally get back home. To Leipzig. I’m sure Prof. Garrett has some work for us again.