Hello! Hola! Guten Tag!
This might be a little off topic for the beginning of a post which I am sure will be really interesting, but I don’t know why I write ‘Hola’ anymore, my Spanish went down the drain after Christmas, and I dont really remember a lot of it…oops! Any who! As you can see from the title of this post I am officially back in the United States of America!
The journey home has been a whirlwind of emotions, traveling, camps, and so much more. I don’t even really know if I can call it the journey home, because I have two homes now. One in Kempen and one in Cedarville.
I shall start where I left off in my last post. My friend Gesa and I got to hang out the Wednesday that her and Theveya did their presentation. We hung out at my house, she took a TON of clothes that I didn’t want to haul back to the US, and we got to share some awesome music with each other. Including my new musical artist obsession, Shawn Mendes.
June 24th was my last meeting with my local AFS chapter. We all got together and grilled and just hung out. It was really bittersweet to say goodbye to everyone. It was one of the first moments where I really realized that I wouldn’t be seeing some of these people again. It was just weird to think about the fact that my program would be coming to an end and that over the next few weeks that’s what I would be doing non stop. And weird is the only word I can think of to describe that feeling.
June 26th I had planned to make my way into Düsseldorf to tour the Heinrich Heine Universität, but never actually made it that far. Instead I stopped in Krefeld to go to Media Markt to return a pair of headphones I bought that didn’t work. Fortunately I found my way there, unfortunately my phone nearly died. Fortunately they let me return my headphones in exchange for new ones. Unfortunately I was on the sketchy side of town and wasn’t too sure of the way home. But I made it home in the end, and was proud that I used all of my german skills to return a pair of headphones.
June 27th I met up with Gesa in Straelen to go to the second-hand store we found there and get ice cream. We had a lot of fun together since it was our last time hanging out one on one! I was glad that’s how I got to spend one of my last Wednesdays in Germany!
June 30th was a really fun day for me! My mom, during a trip to St. Augustine, had met some people who love sailing! Their names are, Ken and Ami, and they own a travel blog called Sea Shifter! They were doing a European trip and were actually along the Rhein in a town near Koblenz. My mom and I talked it through, and I asked my host parents, and I booked a ticket to go down to meet them!
We decided to meet up in Boppard for lunch, there we got to sit along the Rhein, watch the boats and people, eat, and talk. They are such great people and I definitely suggest you check out their Facebook Page! We were able to explore the beautiful city of Boppard before making our individual ways back to Koblenz.
After we had said goodbye I still had plenty of time before I needed to go back home. So I was able to explore Koblenz a little bit. I hadn’t been there before, so it was a little confusing at first but once I was in the downtown area, or touristy area, I was able to find my way around. Some of the things I did in Koblenz: The German Corner, Coffee, H&M, and a typical German Biergarten where I ate basically the German version of mac and cheese.
The very next day I got up, somewhat, early so that I would be able to make it into Cologne. I had made plans with some people to meet up, but then they ended up getting cancelled, so I was alone in Cologne. But it was okay, I wasn’t going to waste my last day there. I went to an art museum that was really close to the Hauptbahnhof. There were a lot of interesting pieces and it was actually kind of relieving to get to explore something like that alone. I was on my own time, and if I didn’t like something I didn’t have to do it.
I also went inside of the Dom. I had been inside once before, and its gorgeous, but in my opinion the outside is much more breathtaking than the inside. That may just be because I have already been inside so many churches in Europe, or because I actually find some other churches prettier on the inside. Who knows?
Entering my last week in Germany.
On the 3rd of July I made my way to Geldern to meet up with my friends from the first school I went to. We walked around the city, ate some ice cream, and goofed off together. I was so thankful that we were able to plan something before I left so that I would be able to see them at least one more time before I was gone.
On the 4th of July I was an obnoxious American. But that’s okay. 🙂 I dressed up in some black shorts, a tank top that said USA, and a camo jacket. I went to Düsseldorf to meet up with Samantha. The first thing that we did was get food from our favorite restaurant in Düsseldorf, Sattgrün. It was delicious, as always. After lunch we went to a park near the Medien Hafen and laid in the grass and played music. Some of it was really American, other was just good music.
We stayed in Düsseldorf late enough to get dinner so we went to this restaurant called Green trees in Düsseldorf Bilk. There Samantha and I both got açaí bowls. It was my first time trying one, and she was shocked. It turned out to be really good. And they were filled with different fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and deliciousness.
That evening I rode the train back home thinking that would be my last time in Düsseldorf for a while. Turns out it wasn’t because that evening I found out that my 1st class was cancelled so Samantha and I made plans to go back to Green trees for breakfast. Later in the afternoon I met up with a lot of my friends in Kempen for ice cream and just to say an official goodbye. I thought that I would still have Friday to say goodbye to everybody, but turns out ALL of my classes were cancelled on Friday, so that didn’t happen.
Friday evening me, Annette, Christoph, and Annette’s parents all went out for dinner at a vegan restaurant in Krefeld. We had a great dinner together, and I was so thankful to get to see everyone one more time. The next morning I woke up early to have breakfast with Annette and Christoph. I had made them a little picture frame collage with pictures of us together throughout the year to give to them. We ate breakfast and exchanged gifts. I truly do have the greatest host family.
That day we drove down to Frankfurt am Main to meet up with the rest of the AFSers who were flying home. After we signed in I was able to eat dinner with my host family in Frankfurt. When they took me back we said our goodbyes. It was hard, but I know that I will see them again, so I tried to keep that in mind. When we parted ways I went downstairs to where the rest of the AFSers were. Saria was there so we were able to hang out for that evening.
The next morning was a LONG day. We woke up at like 5:30 and had to leave for the airport even though the plane leaving to Washington DC wasn’t until 12:30. We hung out in the airport for a while before going through security and then waiting at our gate. I felt strangely okay the entire time. I saw my friends saying goodbye to their host families, or crying because they didn’t want to leave. And I had felt sad yes, but also happy for this new adventure. I don’t think that it had really hit me that I was leaving until we were outside of the airport walking to our plane, and I saw that I really was leaving. I cried then, but it was good, I let myself cry. It was the healthy thing to do.
The 8 hour flight back to the states was so long, yet I almost forget everything that happened. I think that when you are in the air that long things kinda start to feel like a dream. I remember watching a few movies and sleeping for a little while.
When we landed it was afternoon in the States. We got through customs, made our way back to the hotel, and had a session with AFS CBYX. Saria had pulled some strings to make sure that we were roomed together so we would be able to spend some more time with one another. And I am so thankful that they let us room together.
The next morning I was up at 4 AM getting Reese’s from the vending machine because of jet lag. I stayed up for the rest of the day through out our meetings at the State Department, and with our Representatives for Congress. In the evening I was SO tired.
Our last day in DC we had a “Graduation Ceremony” with AFS saying that we had officially completed our program. There was sparkling apple juice, and photos, along with a little certificate saying that we had completed the program. We had another little re-entry program, and then the parents started arriving.
Saria and I hung out and played the Deutschland Card Game that my host family had gotten for me, we played our ukulele’s, and just enjoyed each other’s presence. It was really hard for me to comprehend that I would be saying goodbye to all the amazing students who were on program with me, and I wouldn’t know when the next time I would see them. Every one of the CBYXers were all amazing in their individual ways, and some of them I may never see again. Even if I wasn’t close to everyone on program it’s still weird to think that we went through something so life changing together, and then we just have to say goodbye. It all went by so fast.
The goodbyes to everybody were emotional. When the time came that I had to leave for my plane with the rest of the Ohioans who were flying I wasn’t ready to go. I had already said one of my two hardest goodbyes. Samantha had left for her flight long before I needed to, but when it came to Saria I was heartbroken. Even though Saria have basically mastered the long distance friendship, this time there was no set date when we could see each other again. Life can get in the way of a lot of planning, but when you are on a program with required camps, you know when you’re going to see a person again. I still don’t know the next time I will see Samantha or Saria, but that’s okay. We will have to make do with texting and video calls.
When we got to the airport I was at a different gate than the other Ohioans, so we parted ways, and I sat at my gate until my plane was ready to board. The entire flight home I was so anxious, and exhausted. I tried to take a nap because it was supposed to be a two-hour flight. But was too excited/anxious to land. I couldn’t listen to music either, and anyone who knows me, knows that if I can’t listen to music I must have been pretty occupied. Hahahaha.
The plane ride turned out to only be 45 minutes instead of 2 hours, which was awesome. After I got off the plane I tried to make my way to the baggage claim to get my items before I found my family. TURNS OUT my family was already there! I heard someone yell my name and turned to see my grandparents, my mom and brother, and my friend Jessica and her mom!
After I saw everyone standing there all of the nerves and excitement left my body. I knew that I was home and that it was all going to be okay. I know these people. I have for a long time, and there was nothing to be nervous about. After getting photos some more of my friends from Cedarville arrived, more hugs and pictures ensued. I was so happy to see everyone.
When everyone arrived and the excitement died down a little bit we went out to Melt Bar and Grill for dinner. They have delicious grilled cheese! We had dinner and then drove home. It was oddly strange to ride home, everything felt so normal, but also surreal and unfamiliar. I knew where I was, I knew the people I was with, and that was comforting. It felt normal, but there was still a little voice in the back of my head reminding me that I was gone for 11 months, and this was my first time back. It’s indescribable unless you’ve experienced it yourself.
I am so happy to be back home, and while I miss Germany so much I know that I will be back soon. ❤
Pictures will be up on my Instagrams : @jocelyn.minton and @the.guten.tag.blog
And AS ALWAYS