Spring has Sprung in Germany!

IMG_8432IMG_8436IMG_8415IMG_8435IMG_8421IMG_8468IMG_8471CC850842-7F4D-42BB-A71F-2B8CFF18B4B9f5dc5184-62b7-4831-b4f9-db68254db538Hello Spring, I thought you would never arrive! Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Did I say how happy I am that you’re here? It felt like you took your sweet time, but you were so worth the wait.

As you may have gathered, this winter was a bit rough for me. I like snow and reading and wool socks as much as the next girl, but by the end of March it was, well, let’s just say it was a bit much. Now that I can sleep with the windows open and show my pale legs to society, I am one happy lady.

Yesterday I went to Heidelberg to visit a dear friend. Everyone was out enjoying the warm sunshine. Live music wafted through the market square and I ate a ginormous gelato cone that later gave me a stomach ache from all the sugar but I didn’t even care. Spring in Germany is something special.

The tourists haven’t arrived, the towns are still waking up again from their long hibernations. This is our reward for surviving the last five months. Thank you God!

A Weekend in Croatia

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I spent the weekend in beautiful northern Croatia with my beautiful friend Ruth! We spent most of our time in the ancient Roman city of Rovinj. It was a dream. I can’t even articulate how lovely every corner of the place was! I want to come back one day in the summer when the water is warm enough to swim! It is cheaper and less touristy than Venice, which is only a two hour boat ride away across the Adriatic channel. I would definitely recommend it to anyone!

 

 

 

A Personal Note

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetI just want to say a little something. Before this year, I had never really struggled with depression or loneliness or hopelessness. I was always the motivated, ambitious girl with a smile on her face and a certainty that her future was bright. I hate to admit it, but when I used to encounter other people with problems like depression or anxiety, I would secretly think to myself, “Can’t they just shake it off?”

Well, never again.

This year has taught me so much about empathy. Over the last few months I have often felt like I just can’t connect deeply with people. They are all around me– on the train, in the coffee shop, at work– but I felt unable to reach out in any meaningful sense. This made me lonely in a new, profound way. And this loneliness led to depression. There were many other factors (ahem, bad winter weather, I’m looking at you!), but it was heavy. Really heavy.

I lost motivation for a long time. I struggled to do even little things like cook a healthy meal or send an important email. And if I could barely do those things, how could I possibly have a bright future?!  I deleted my Instagram because I didn’t know how to respond to people’s comments on my photos like “You’re living the dream! I’m so jealous!” when in reality I felt so bad. Then I would feel bad about feeling bad! It was a negative cycle.

Now that’s I’m feeling so so much better for a myriad of reasons, I just wanted to share this little piece of my story in the hopes that maybe it might help someone out there reading. I now have so much more empathy and compassion for

Foreigners

People who just moved to a new place

Refugees

Lonely people

Those who are going through a breakup of any kind

People who just started a new job

Recent graduates who are disoriented

Singles who just want someone to do fun things with

People struggling with depression, anxiety, chronic stress, etc.

People grieving

Language learners

The list goes on! It is so cliche to say that you can’t truly understand something until you’ve gone through it yourself. But in my case, I think the cliche holds true. I am sending love, encouragement and hope to anyone out there going through something heavy today. Thank you all for reading along this year. It means a lot to me.

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P.s. Photos from London, where I visited a friend 🙂

A Weekend in Belgium!

fullsizeoutput_54c9.jpgHey friends! How are you? I spent the weekend exploring Belgium for the first time. And believe me, I ate my fare share of waffles, french fries and chocolate. I was blown away by how beautiful Belgium is. The architecture is so whimsical and unique. Everywhere I turned there was a stunning cathedral or canal or courthouse. We went to Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp. I hadn’t heard that much about Ghent, but honestly it was one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been to. Every street is filled with adorable shops. The whole country smells like sugary waffle dough! Below are a few photos if you’d like to see.fullsizeoutput_54c8.jpgWe were lucky to get a few hours of glorious sunshine.fullsizeoutput_54bf.jpgfullsizeoutput_54c0.jpgfullsizeoutput_54c1.jpgThe main town square. Everyone rode bikes 🙂fullsizeoutput_54c2.jpgJust like Venice except less touristy and much cheaper!fullsizeoutput_54c3.jpgYou know I blew most of my budget on these bad boys 🙂fullsizeoutput_54c4.jpgfullsizeoutput_54ca.jpgfullsizeoutput_54cb.jpgThe view from the top of the castle!fullsizeoutput_54cc.jpgNext we went to the small, medieval town of Bruges, which blew my mind. Every street oozes with charm!fullsizeoutput_54cd.jpgfullsizeoutput_54ce.jpgfullsizeoutput_54cf.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d1.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d2.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d3.jpgfullsizeoutput_54d4.jpgOne last story. We were taking the train to Brussels, where we would switch stations and then take a bus home. I left my camera on the train. I was devastated when I realized about 20 minutes later as we walked to the other station. It is one of the only physical objects I own that really means something special to me. It is my hobby and creative outlet and I can’t afford another one right now. So I decided to go to the travel center at the station we were leaving from. Mind you, this was a different station than the one my train arrived into. And I asked just in case. The lady disappeared into the back and reappeared five minutes later WITH MY CAMERA. I almost cried. It was a modern day miracle. I thank God for the person who reported it and turned it in. It’s like God was saying, “Nope, I’m not going to let this happen to you today, Micah, because I know how much you love photography!”

Miracles do happen, people!!! I still smile every time I look at my camera now 🙂

Hello

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetHello there. Just wanted to say hi! I will be in Berlin for the next few days for a seminar. More photos and film to come. Hope this Friday is a great Friday.

Why I Call My Apartment Building the United Nations

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When I was younger, I thought being a ‘migrant’, or a ‘foreigner’ or an ‘expat’ were things that made a person different– an outsider. I thought it was easy to separate people into two categories: native and other. My world was small and my thinking black and white. But on this ever globalizing planet, where the pace of change keeps accelerating exponentially, it is becoming harder and harder to maintain such clear categories. Everyone is beginning to feel a bit foreign, because all of us, whether we’ve never left our hometowns or traversed the globe, are migrants through time. Parents feel foreign to their children and vice versa, as the lives they lead look more and more dissimilar. The borders and languages of today are a far cry from those of even just 20 years ago. Minds are educated differently in the classroom with new techniques and types of information. A child of the seventies becomes a mother of the two thousands, and then a grandmother of what is sure to be a new reality all together.

And so this year spent living abroad in a little apartment in a little corner of a ‘foreign country’ has forced me to accept my differentness and to explore the empathy that arises from the shared experience of being different. I’ve learned more about the interconnectedness of our diverse world this year than ever before, and much of that learning has occurred without having to leave my building.

On the bottom floor of my building lives a Syrian family with three children. They came to this country as refugees two years ago and have since taken up the noble and heavy task of remaking their lives. The first night I moved in they were there to greet me and carry my belongings up the stairs. They brought me toilet paper and dinner and a warm cup of tea. We laughed immediately over our shared struggle with the German language and how much paperwork is required just to survive here. Over the months, they have fixed my bike, changed my light bulbs, reset my heater, driven me to the airport, invited me over for cake and so much more. Their daughters come upstairs for a glimpse into the “glamorous” life of an older girl, and I go downstairs for a taste of the stable life of a family. In our differentness, we are one.

The second floor is inhabited by a German couple in their seventies who have lived there for thirty years. Their names are old school German and their English is broken- the tail end of a generation that did not learn it in school and did not need it in their daily lives. They are grandparents and retired insurance brokers. My first interaction with them was one of remorse- I had broken one of their hallway plants moving in a sofa and knocked on their door to apologize in murderous german. They smiled and waved it off, “es macht nichts.” Through the next few months they brought me pots and pans when I mentioned my need, left their door open when I locked my keys inside my apartment, brought my chocolate for Christmas and giving me missing ingredients to finish my half-completed muffins.

Though sometimes awkward, sometimes challenging, my interactions with my neighbors have been a highlight of my year. They teach me about kindness, generosity and community. We are a group that has almost nothing in common, and yet we decided to look out for each other simply because we are neighbors. That’s all.

I wish this for anyone, anywhere, foreign or national, young or old, rich or poor. I have felt alone much of this year, but when I see my neighbors I immediately feel less so. They brighten my day and I know I could go to them if anything were to happen. With all the xenophobia and fear mongering  in culture today, it’s easy to forget how simple it is. We all need a helping hand. We all need a smile in the hallway. We all need to realize that foreignness is a shared human experience, and it is beautiful.

When my parents came for a visit, I joked that our building is the United Nations, except with less arguing. They agreed and felt reassured that their daughter was going to be alright at the end of the day. And I am. And when I move out at the end of June, I will be happy to move on to the next phase, but sad to leave the UN.

Who knows where I’ll live next– LA? New York? Frankfurt? But I do know that wherever that may be, I will try to be the first person to greet my neighbors with a smile and say “I’m here if you need anything.” Always.

P.s. Photo from here

Tag der offenen Tür Video

Here is a little video I made to capture ‘Tag der offenen Tür’ at my school. This is essentially a day when prospective students and parents come to check out our school! I did face painting and the classes put on booths, games, obstacle courses and much more. It was so much fun. Take a look 🙂