I keep pushing off writing this post because I’m rather sentimental about leaving. I am going to miss Berlin terribly. I will miss how geographically diverse the city is, for it really has a bit of everything. I already know it will be bizarre to return to a country where everyone around me is communicating in English, and I will miss the once-harsh German language I have come to appreciate for its sweet idiosyncrasies. Even just yesterday, when I heard horns honking excessively loudly, I realized I will miss the tranquility of Berlin.
In an earlier post, I wrote about how “home” to me meant the people I was with, rather than the place I was inhabiting. I still believe this to be true: home is still a feeling, one that we can feel in many places, and in different levels of intensity.
Although I knew that academically, NYU Berlin would not be perfectly pertinent to my concentration, I knew that I needed to experience study abroad for my own personal growth. Before I even came to NYU, one of the biggest advantages was the ease of studying abroad. I will always believe that moving is growing, and this is one of the more extreme moves I have experienced. This is the farthest distance and the longest time that I have ever been from my parents in St. Louis. I felt homesickness as most people do, but certainly not to the extent that I had anticipated. This is definitely due to how quickly and intensely Berlin has become another home for me. The people at this site feel like family and the once-sterile, meaningless spaces we live and work in have come to feel “gemütlich” and comfortable. Gemütlich is a special German word with a positive connotation; if a place (whether that be a home, restaurant, bar, etc.) is gemütlich, this means it is cozy, snug, comfortable, and homely. Gemütlichkeit is therefore very similar to the Danish concept of Hygge. It describes a place where people are made to feel content. It is slightly indulgent, but not in a lavish way – it is indulgent in its observance of the sweet, simple, “little things in life.”
Gemütlich is how I think of my home in Berlin. I feel so lucky that my suite is such a home and so filled with love and positive energy. My suite mates and the friends who constantly drop into our room have brought me so much joy and have taught me not just how to make a space a home but also how to better express love and genuine care for others. They have inspired me so much, and when I return to the states, I will seek to embody their magnanimous ways with my friends and family.
I’ve thought quite a bit about how I will reflect on this experience years from now. I have a range of sweet and wild experiences that I look forward to recalling, but the best ones include my closest friends. Although most of my close friends here go to NYU Abu Dhabi, I know we will stay in touch. Studying abroad really brings you closer to the people you are with because you are simultaneously experiencing a new place, with new people, a foreign language, and an unfamiliar culture. We reflect on these aspects together and we grow together. There is no way I will let the amazing people here drift from of my life, no matter how far away from me they live. Just as I have maintained close relationships with friends from high school, I intend to maintain these relationships from NYU Berlin. I feel immensely grateful for these individuals. Special shoutout to Nathi, Lee, Mona, Tala and Mira, who are pictured above – I truly love you people, thank you for everything. Thank you for making me feel at home.
Finally, I’m glad I took this course, for it has forced me to regularly reflect on my experiences in Berlin. I am confident that I feel more aware of how I’ve spent my time here than I would have otherwise been. I believe I have a better appreciation for how I live in and interact with a space, and of how that space becomes filled with meaning. Berlin has taught me to go out of my way to try new things and explore. After a semester of finding new restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. in Berlin, I have realized how much more I should be taking advantage of New York. New York has so much to offer, and yet it seems I have neglected to exploit all of the opportunities it provides. I hope that when I return in the fall, that I will be more willing to do more in the city and to go out of my way to find new places, frequent more museums and galleries, and venture further uptown!