October – “Childhood”

I called the first month of my journey “infancy” for its terrifying, yet awe-inspiring nature. That makes October the “childhood” stage. -Not quite so unfamiliar, but still pretty… Scary. Awkward. Unstable. Childhood is about growth and discovery, no longer being content to crawl around on all fours. No, I’m ready to stand. Ready to walk alone. Actually, I want to get there faster. I want to feel the rush of adrenaline racing through my veins. I want to run. (And this is where we use the more adult term: frustrated aspirations.) I’m moving forward, but at a snail’s pace. I get two steps forward only to fall flat on my face. Still, I relish the successes. Try to shake off the defeats. October was the “acquiring basic skills” stage of living and working in Germany. I had lots of ideas and enthusiasm, but I didn’t know how I was going to make any of these ideas work. Here are the highlights from October:

1. I finally got a valid ticket for the HVV Gesamtbereich (That’s about 50 kilometers in every direction from the center of Hamburg). Translation: I was no longer restricted to spending my free days in Buxtehude. I could go to the city with friends and enjoy the night life. FREEDOM!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 2:35pm UTC+02

My golden ticket is finally valid! 😀

2. No more bumming around at home on the weekends. There’s a world out there waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 6:29pm UTC+02

Feeling on top of the world! Tomorrow is German Unity Day. Every year, there’s a huge, official festival for this holiday in one of the state capitals. This year, it just so happens to be in Hannover -the capital of the state in which I’m living! Pink is going to perform and Angela Merkel is supposed to show up at some point. I’m completely stoked! Oktoberfest is in full swing. Even in my tiny, northern town of Buxtehude, there will be a celebration. And Hofbräu München beer is delicious. O’zapft is! Sunday I get to be thankful that I’ve been alive and well for 23 years (knock on wood). Okay, 23 actually sounds like another awkward age to be honest, but hopefully I’ll manage to make it look competent, independent and graceful. 23… that’s a prime number. …I’m in the prime of my life. There we go. See? – I saved it already. 😛 Also, I just booked my flight to Stockholm! I’m going there in November with a few of my fellow Fulbrighters. Life is good!

3. And on October 5, I turned 23 years old. It was a quiet, relaxing day. I spent some time at the mini Oktoberfest in Buxtehude, feeling blessed to be young and living in Germany. And I do NOT apologize for cutting my own hair. 🙂

4. I was having fun with my students.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 7:51pm UTC+02

I’ve been given the task to play games with my 8th graders next week. I think I want to play “Mafia” with them. Can anyone give me some funny death scene scenarios? 🙂

5. I started exploring other activities in the Volkshochschule and was especially pleased to meet other travelers.

Sunday, October 12, 2014 at 3:15pm UTC+02

Went to a salsa workshop this morning. This beautiful Venezuelan woman was my teacher. I never would have guessed that she’s 52 years old!

6. I was really falling in love with this country and all that it offers.

Monday, October 13, 2014 at 1:15pm UTC+02

Debating whether to do my master’s in Germany or somewhere else. I have to say, the free tuition makes it pretty tempting.

7. I took care of some international bureaucratic obligations with the help of my dear family in Florida.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 3:51pm UTC+02

Yay, my loans have been successfully deferred! Thank you, Congress, for lowering the interest on them!

8. The strike ruined my plans to go to Bremen, but it turned out to have a silver lining.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 9:46pm UTC+02

I was sad because the Bahn strike messed up my plans to go to Bremen today, but then I found a genuine Italian ice cream parlor right here in Buxtehude. So my day just got a little bit better.

9. I continued exploring the other cities in my state.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 12:48am UTC+02

I went to Cuxhaven today -the city that is bordered by both the North Sea and the Elbe. I didn’t make it to the beach but I did see the harbor and ate some yummy fish. Hopefully it won’t rain so much next time.

10. I started doing something I’d been wanting to do for a long time, but never had the money to do before. -I bought a guitar and found a teacher! That glorious moment of self-actualization is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world. Being myself – my REAL self. Learning and growing and being high on life.

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6:48pm UTC+02

How did life get this awesome for me?! I’m doing everything I’ve always wanted to do and more. 🙂

11. And I discovered the joys of working with children and getting to know their quirks and personalities. My 8th graders were the hardest to manage, but so endearing! I found myself getting attached to them and started calling them “my kids.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 2:35pm UTC+02

I told my kids that if they did their activity quickly, we would play a game. I wanted to play “Heads Up” with them (you know, the Ellen Degeneres version). They were actually pretty good at it but after 5 minutes they got really bored and practically begged me to let them play Simon Says. Who knew Simon Says could be such a fun game for 13 year olds?

12. While I was enjoying Germany, life went on as normal in Florida, and sometimes I got the feeling that I was missing out on some things.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 9:13pm UTC+02

People who have visited my alma mater while I was abroad: Jane Goodall, President Barack Obama, Sir Paul McCartney. Why couldn’t you wait until I got back? ;_;

13. But I didn’t feel too bad. What can I say? -I love my job!

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 1:10pm UTC+02

Feeling on top of the world! 😀 Over a year ago, before I even submitted my Fulbright application, I thought about how I would motivate my students to speak. Today I got to test out some of those ideas and it went *amazingly* well. Hands shooting up, eager to speak, stumbling over vocabulary, but pleased that they were able to get the message across in the end. I’m a little sad that today was my last day with the 8th graders but excited to get to know the 9th and 12th graders in two weeks. Now to start enjoying my Fall Break and get ready to go to Sweden. 🙂

14. The life of a Fulbrighter is a good life indeed! And I’m proud of my Fulbright family and everything it accomplishes.

Friday, October 24, 2014 at 7:45pm UTC+02

#Fulbright has received the Prince of Asturias Award! So proud to be a current Fulbrighter in Germany, and to have studied abroad in Oviedo, Asturias through #RollinsCollege. Watch the ceremony live here. #PrinceAsturiasAwards #premiosprincipe

http://www.fpa.es/multimedia-en/streaming-2014-prince-of-asturias-awards-ceremony.html En español: http://www.rtve.es/noticias/premios-principe-de-asturias/directo/

15. And after two and a half months of living in Germany, I got the green to make this place my home for another 9 months.

Friday, October 31, 2014 at 12:34am UTC+01

I got my Aufenthaltserlaubnis today (my German residence permit!) I’m officially not a tourist anymore. 😀