Aufwiedersehen Deutschland

IMG_7725Aufwiedersehen.

Translation: Until we see each other again. Today is the day I say goodbye to my home for the past eleven months. As sad as I am to say goodbye to this place, I am infinitely more sad to say goodbye to the people who have made my experience here so worth while.

When I said goodbye to Heidelberg three months ago, I was not horribly sad, because I knew I would return to Germany in a few short weeks for my internship here in Hildesheim. I had a return ticket, a promise that my German adventure would continue, all be it in a slightly different form. But this time, I have no return ticket. Who knows when I’ll be back- a few months? Years? Decades? I don’t know what the larger future holds, but I do know I’ll California for the next two years until I graduate college. So unless someone invents teleportation, this is goodbye for the immediate future. But I am headed to another country I love, filled with more people who deeply care for me. I can’t wait to see my family and friends again! And I will carry the lessons I’ve learned here with me for the rest of my life.

Germany has taught me more about myself in eleven months than school has taught me in fourteen years. I’ve learned how truly competent, capable, and confident I am. I’ve pushed myself further outside my comfort zone than I thought possible. My eyes have been opened to new perspectives, cultures, and ways of life. But the most important lesson I’ve learned is that people are good, no matter where they live. We all have hopes, fears, struggles, successes. We are all just trying to make it in this crazy world, and we must help each other along the way. The friends I’ve made here are the real deal. I will cherish them always.

I can already tell my life has been divided into two distinct parts: Before Germany and After Germany. So thank you Germany. You will always hold a piece of me heart dear country. Aufwiedersehen!

P.s. Enjoy these photos from my week at church camp! IMG_8073IMG_8078IMG_8075 ^This angel is basically my German little sister 🙂IMG_8070IMG_8039IMG_8027IMG_7952IMG_7909IMG_7905IMG_7903IMG_8065 ^Could she be any cuter? No, the answer is no.IMG_7824IMG_7791IMG_7763IMG_7718IMG_7710IMG_7704IMG_7696IMG_7781 ^What a bunch of clowns.IMG_8053 ^I’m obsessed.  IMG_7663^I was more excited about the zip-line than the kids were…

IMG_7668IMG_7677P.s. Just because I’m heading back state side, doesn’t mean this blog is going anywhere! I will keep writing about my adventures and experiences back in good ol’ California. You can’t get rid of me that easily :p

A Happy List

unnamed.jpg
Once in a while, I like to write down all the little things in life that sum up to my overall happiness (you can read a few past lists here and here). I wrote this list during a particularly rough travel experience I had recently, in which one train home from Amsterdam turned into four trains and a hotel! I. Was. Not. Happy. So I scribbled down this lists of twenty things while in the train station in a last ditch effort to lift my spirits. And you know what? It worked! I realized that even though travel often comes with some unpleasant side effects, I am incredibly blessed to be able to travel in the first place and a few delays are no big deal in the big picture. Friends, if you’re feeling a little down today, I highly suggest you whip out a journal and jot down a happy list- its the cheapest form of therapy around!

1. Quiet mornings in the city before the hustle and bustle starts.
2. Lingering Summer evenings.
3. Discovering a new photographer or blog I love!
4. Skype chats with my parents.
5. Reading a book you just can’t put down.
6. Sipping coffee from my favorite “Heidelberg mug.”
7. Watching my little brother crush it at his internship in Guatemala this summer!
8. Meandering bike rides through the meadow near my house.
9. Mastering a new German word or phrase.
10. When little one year old Julius says my name in his cute German accent.
11. Birthday wishes.
12. Family vacations.
13. Editing my photos.
14. Making short films.
15. Ice cream dates.
16. Wild flowers.
17. When you pick up right where you left off with an old friend!
18. Church potlucks.
19. Kaffee und kuchen (the German tradition of cake and coffee in the afternoon).
20. When my train arrives on time- haha!

Question of the Day
What is one little thing that made you happy today?

Strawberry Picking

IMG_6864.JPG
The best part of summer is that it’s filled with fun family activities and traditions. Example one: strawberry picking.

When Anne mentioned the near by strawberry fields were open for picking, I was totally on board. So we packed up the kids and what felt like the entire house, and headed out in search of some delicious Erdbeeren! Bending over, searching through leaves in the hot sun is hard work, but biting into a fresh, juicy strawberry makes it all worth it. I must admit, I became slightly obsessed with finding the perfect strawberry. As soon as I’d find one I thought was the perfect size, shape and color, I’d find one that looked just the slightest bit bigger and sweeter. This of course resulted in me eating most of them before they reached the basket!

IMG_6919.JPG
^He didn’t quite understand the concept of picking them to eat later. He’s more of a right now kind of guy!

IMG_6943.JPG
^That face though.

IMG_6979.JPGIMG_6980.JPG
^6 kilograms of strawberries. That should last us a day or two 🙂

IMG_6981.JPG
^High ho, high ho, it’s off to work we go! He wouldn’t let go of his bucket.

IMG_6978.JPGIMG_6977.JPGIMG_6949.JPGIMG_6944.JPGIMG_6939.JPG

Although my search for the perfect strawberry was destined to go unfulfilled, I still had a blast! And now I’m off to eat a slice of strawberry cake, washed down with a strawberry milkshake of course. Have a fabulous week friends.IMG_6902.JPG
^Shameless strawberry selfie.

IMG_6895.JPGIMG_6896.JPGIMG_6887.JPGIMG_6882.JPGIMG_6878.JPGIMG_6870.JPG

The ABC’s of Hildesheim

IMG_5577.jpg
I hope you’re having a happy day friends! If not, perhaps this post will make you a little bit happier. A few months ago during my time in Heidelberg, I wrote a post called The ABC’s of Heidelberg, in which I chose one experience/thought/thing in my current life to represent each letter of the alphabet. It was one of my favorite posts to write, and also one of the most popular. So naturally, I figured it was time to write The ABC’s of Hildesheim, broken up by a few photos from life lately. Enjoy!IMG_5571.jpg
Au Pair- I am living with a German family and working as their Au Pair, or nanny. I help the mom with the three small children during a portion of the day, and make life easier in any way I can. This is my first time doing something like this, and so far so good!
Birthday- I recently celebrated my 20th birthday, which you can read about here. I was a bit nervous because, other than the fact that I’m no longer a teenager (yikes!), it was my first birthday away from my family. But the community I’ve found here made sure my day was filled with nothing but joy and celebration!
Church- I am also interning for and attending a local Church of Christ, and Sunday mornings have quickly become my favorite part of the week. I look forward to interacting with the lovely church members and being spiritually rejuvenated. There is something special about worshiping the same God in another language. It reminds me our God is not American, he is universal!
Daria- Daria is the three year old of the family. She has taught me more German in the past month than in the past two years combined! She is sassy, energetic, and creative. She loves to help cook in the kitchen and take care of her dolly. I’m already dreading saying goodbye in August.
Erdbeeren- This region of Neidersachsen is known to grow some of the best strawberries (Erdbeeren) in Germany. The family and I plan to go strawberry picking in a nearby field one day soon!
IMG_5506.JPG
Friendship- Making friends can be hard in general, but making friends abroad is a whole other ball game! Add in the language barrier and cultural differences, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some interesting situations. It definitely took time and a few steps outside my comfort zone, but I’ve made some wonderful friends here whom I will cherish always.
German- The German language and I have a love hate relationship (read more here). Everyday is an adventure, filled with small victories and failures! Some days I feel nearly fluent, and other days I feel like I don’t know a single word. Never the less, I’m confident I am pursuing a worth-while goal and I wouldn’t quit for anything.
Hamburg- My friend from home is visiting my this weekend as the final stop on her European tour! I can’t wait explore the port city of Hamburg together. Stay tuned for a post all about this adventure.
Inclusion- One thing I was initially nervous about was feeling lonely. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make friends and have any sort of social life. I’m thrilled to report that people have been incredibly welcoming and inclusive. For example, the other day I was sitting in the mall when a girl about my age approached me to ask me to take a survey. We ended up talking for a while, and she invited me to the movies with her and her friends! I went and had a great time, and it was a reminder that I usually have more in common with people than I think!
Julius & Jakob- Julius is the one and a half year old in the family. He doesn’t talk so much as grunt, which I find incredibly endearing. He is a huge fan of all moving vehicles and building things for the sole purpose of destroying them. Jakob is the one month year old! While we haven’t had too many great conversations yet, I love to cuddle and snuggle him when I get the chance.

IMG_5502.jpg
Kultur- (Culture) Hildesheim is a culturally rich city! There is always a festival or exhibit happening, so it’s impossible to be bored. This summer, the city is celebrating its 1,200 year anniversary with a giant jubilee!
Lets Start Talking- Lets Start Talking is a mission-focused organization that helps people practice their conversational english through reading the Bible. A team of five people from Oklahoma Christian University worked with the church here to ‘read’ with people in the local community. They stayed for six weeks, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and bonding over our experience as Americans in Germany!
Mädchen- (Girls) The main focus of my internship with the church is to get to know the middle school and high school aged girls in the youth group. I have held movie nights, ice cream dates, and game days to connect with them thus far, and I can’t wait to see how those relationships develop further in the coming weeks.
New experiences- It might surprise you to hear that I tend to stay in my comfort zone. My introverted nature often makes me hesitant to step outside my bubble. But now, every part of my day forces me to take a step further into the unknown! For instance, tonight I forced myself to attend Zumba at the local gym. I was so nervous I wouldn’t understand the instructor and totally embarrass myself, but I went anyways, and LOVED IT! #noregrets
Open mind- “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” -Prophet Muhammed. This quote rings true in my life, and pushes me to travel and see as much of the world as I can.
IMG_5457.jpg
Parties- Let me just say, the German people know how to party! It seems like every other day is some sort of party, whether that be a BBQ, lake side bonfire, birthday party, or movie night. I adore how hospitable and generous they are, and how they love inviting people into their homes.
Questions- I recently wrote about my thoughts on my future career. I’m half way done with college, and sometimes it feels like I should know ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ already! But to be honest, I still have no clue…and I think that’s okay.
Raps Feld- Raps Feld means rapeseed field in German. Rapeseed is the colorful yellow plant pictured above used for canola oil and animal feed.They completely cover this part of Germany, and provide the perfect backdrop for photo shoots!
Skype- Sometimes I think people either have the ‘homesickness gene’ or they don’t. Unfortunately, I think I’m one of the ones who has it! On the other hand, it means I come from a home worth missing, which I am always grateful for. Lucky for me, there are plenty off ways to stay in close contact with friends and family back home such as Skype, Facebook, or this blog!
Travel- If you’ve been hanging around this blog for a while, you know I traveled every weekend while in Heidelberg. And although that was amazing, it wasn’t a sustainable pace. Now I’m trying to live the normal ‘German lifestyle’ and experience the every day culture. But I’m not completely traveled out- I’ve visited Hannover and am planning trips to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, and possibly Belgium. Once the travel bug bites, you just can’t stop itching to go!
IMG_5452.jpg
Understanding- Most of the time I don’t understand what is being said, but I have developed a deeper sense of understanding for this world and the people in it.
Verse- My ‘life verse,’ that is, a verse I’ve chosen to encourage and inspire myself, is 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Weather- The calendar says its summer, but you would never know by the weather lately. It went from summer to winter in one day, completely skipping over fall! But I must admit, I kind of enjoy staying at home snuggled up under a blanket while its pouring rain.
EXtremes- I go back and forward between feeling extremely comfortable and settled in a new culture and feeling completely confused!
Youth-group- I have been loving working with the youth group and being a part of the young adult group here!
Zzzz- I’ve finally reached the end of the alphabet, now it’s time to go to sleep. Goodnight friends, thanks for reading!
IMG_5428.jpgIMG_5446.jpg

My Answer to THE Question

IMG_5500.jpg

When you decide to move abroad for any amount of time, you will undoubtedly be asked the question: “Why do you like living abroad?” A perfectly reasonable question to a girl who uprooted her cushy life to move to the other side of the globe. And while my desire to improve my German skills is a perfectly valid answer, it can feel a bit shallow and nondescript. It never fully describes my reasons and motives for choosing this lifestyle. It takes more than a language to keep this girl happy!

So, here are a five reasons that answer in more detail exactly why I like living abroad. If you are an expat as well, perhaps you can relate to and even use some of these reasons in your next dinner party conversation!

1. You Live Outside Your Comfort Zone- Nothing forces you to live in the moment more than stepping outside your comfort zone.  I am someone who tends to stubbornly stay inside her comfort zone, so expat life has been a challenging yet rewarding experience! Of course, life abroad is still filled with the daily nine to five routine, but every aspect of my routine here stretches me in some new way. Mundane tasks like grocery shopping or talking to my neighbors quickly become an adventure, filled with obstacles, tests, and triumphs. When I am in new situations or surroundings, I become more aware of the details and drink in each moment more deeply.

2. You Make Unexpected Friends- Yesterday I went to a movie with five other people, all from vastly different backgrounds and walks of life. Daily I am surrounded by people with different languages, nationalities, and experiences from my own. You would not believe some of the stories I’ve heard, and the incredible people I’ve met. Of course I miss my friends and family back home, but I’m confident the relationships I’ve formed here unique and irreplaceable. I will cherish them always.
3. There’s Never a Dull Moment- I learned what is, in my opinion, one of the most important life lessons: How to laugh at yourself. I have found myself in more awkward and hilarious situations abroad due to cultural misunderstandings, than in the previous 19 years combined! I’ve learned not to take life, or myself, too seriously. I used to plan out every little detail of my life in advance, worrying and stressing over the minutia. But now I eagerly embrace the unknown, which is good, because now I can hop on a train bound for a foreign city, with little more than a few days notice! Life abroad is a lot of things, but dull is not one of them.

4. You Appreciate Home That Much More- You never know a good thing till it’s gone, right? Well, that statement is partially true in my case. I’ve always know I come from a good home, but I didn’t realize just how great it was until I moved abroad. My home equipped me with the tools I need to thrive, and provided the spring board that launched me into the world. But I couldn’t have realized that truth until I was fully launched. And although homesickness is no joke, and you might feel left out or guilty at times, you quickly realize the relationships that really matter are the ones that will last. When I go home in August, I will appreciate everything and everyone in my life a million times more than if I’d never left at all.

5. You Grow and Change in Countless Ways- Personal growth and transformation occurs no matter where you live, but I’ve noticed it is much more tangible and observable when abroad. I can literally see myself gaining confidence with each passing day. I have trips to far off countries, experiences like skydiving in Prague, and souvenirs like holy water from the Vatican to prove my new found sense of adventure. I’ve made new friends with a vast variety of people, and feel completely comfortable asking someone to meet for coffee- something I would have been too scared to do this time last year. The changes in scenery and culture that accompany a move abroad are nothing compared to the changes I’ve witnessed in myself. And I will be forever grateful.

Chances are, you won’t be able to answer in this much detail the next time someone asks you why you like living abroad at a dinner party. They’ll probably excuse themselves to the ‘bathroom’ before you reach point number two. But if you know why you love expat life, they will take notice. Some of your love is bound to rub off on them, and if you’re lucky, they might decide to go home, pack their suitcases, and join you!

Thanks for reading friends, have a good one.
P.s. I originally wrote this post as a guest blogger for this blog. Check it out if you’d like!

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 6.16.48 PM.png

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Micah. She was your typical little girl- silly, energetic, curious. One day, someone asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Smiling up at them, she replied without hesitation, “A Princess, of course!” The person laughed and patted her on the head. “Don’t we all,” they chuckled. In that moment, Micah’s dream of being a professional princess was shattered. Perhaps she would have to find something else to do when she grew up. But what?

As she grew older, her peers began letting go of their “princess dreams” and striving for new ones. Some wanted to be doctors, others teachers, lawyers, therapists. And while Micah eventually realized she too must relinquish her princess dream and replace it with a realistic career, she had no idea which one fit her.

Fast forward to high school graduation. Waiting in line before the ceremony processional, Micah hears fellow classmates chat excitedly about their plans: pre-med, art school, theater programs. Everyone seemed to have their major and corresponding career path figured out. In fear of being asked, what are your plans?, Micah hides under her over-sized graduation cap.

And now’s the part where I switch to first person. If you haven’t guessed, this story is about me! During my time here in Germany, I’ve often found myself thinking about my next two years of college and the future beyond. And while I am a notorious worrier, my recent thoughts on the subject have not been worries so much as questions. 

I’m almost grown up, but I still don’t know exactly what I want to be…what does that say about me?

I think it says a few things. First, the fact that I could never envision myself with a typical job title like doctor, teacher, or lawyer means I don’t want an already established career. I want a job title with multiple words, something that takes a bit of explanation, something like, “Creative Director of Content and Photography” or “Editor of Written Communication.” What the what do those even mean? Exactly.

Second, titles like that aren’t attained through a traditional career path. I see myself following a circuitous path, full of twists and turns and trial and errors. Some people love following a step by step path to their future career- first college, then graduate school, then training of some sort, and then work. But I’ve always been okay with uncertainty where my career is concerned. I like not knowing what my post-graduation plans. It is strangely liberating and exciting! It allows me space to be my creative, unique, crazy self.

Lastly, I don’t want to mold myself to fit a career. Sometime people change themselves to fit into the ‘doctor mold,’ for example, adjusting to what they think a doctor should be. But I want to be myself, and mold my career to fit me. Now I know that’s not always possible, or at least not right away. I will undoubtedly have to go through a few jobs that don’t quite fit until I reach the job that fits me like a glove. Sometime you have to figure out what you don’t want to do first before you can figure out what you do want to do. I’ve already checked quite a few options off the list, and continue narrowing it down with each new experience.

So, in conclusion to this ridiculously long post, I want to offer a few words of wisdom to my past self. Little Micah, it’s perfectly okay to have no idea what you want to do. You will likely spend the rest of your life figuring it out. But chances are, you won’t become a professional princess. That’s too conventional for you anyways.

Thanks for reading friends, have a great week!

Let The Dog Days Begin

IMG_5723.jpgHello friends, how are things?

I’m feeling pretty great, because summer has officially begun! Ok, maybe it doesn’t technically start until June 21st, but I declare the season officially open none the less! Let the Dog Days of summer begin.

What exactly do I mean by the Dog Days?

You know, those lazy, unproductive summer days filled with sweaty clothes, sticky hands, and happy hearts. While the year calendar might end in December, every school child and parent knows the year actually ends in August and begins again with the start of school in September. Summer is the reward for everything you’ve accomplished and all the effort you’ve exerted throughout the other nine months. After surviving the cold German winter, Germany has rewarded me handsomely with a gorgeous summer!

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Southern California, land of eternal summer, that I am suddenly so appreciative of the lovely weather. I jumped for joy on the first sunny day in May, and cherish each warm day like it could be my last! I particularly enjoy the twilight hours, after the heat of the day has settled and the sun begins to sink slowly towards the horizon. Sunset isn’t until around 10pm here, so I’ve found myself turning into a bit of a night owl.

But my favorite part of summer is the change of pace. Everything slows down, including my brain, and I can finally take a deep breath. Previously frustrating or worrisome things somehow become less complicated. Life is divided into seasons- seasons to work your butt off and stay busy, and other seasons to take a break. Neither pace is sustainable the whole year- I would burn out from school if it were any longer, but I would feel bored and unproductive if summer were any longer. Our God designed this life we life perfectly, don’t you think?

Anyways, enough of my pointless rambling. I wanted to share a few photos from a recent visit to a playground/natural hiking area here in Hildesheim that I visited with the family I’m working for. This day in particular sticks out to me as the official commencement of the Dog Days of Summer- enjoy!

IMG_5622.jpgIMG_5612.jpg
^I may or may not have frolicked in this field. Just a little.

IMG_5672.jpgIMG_5701.jpg^The little Mr. deep in thought.IMG_5702.jpg^Make a wish!IMG_5706.jpg^Straight chillin’.IMG_5716.jpg
^Over the hills and through the woods!

IMG_5723.jpgIMG_5740.jpgIMG_5678.jpgIMG_5697.jpgI hope you’re enjoying these Dog Days as much as I am friends! Have a good one and I’ll see you ’round here soon.IMG_5632.jpgIMG_5601.jpgIMG_5633.jpg