Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Return

I am back in the US, back on campus, all moved into my dorm room and with a full week of classes behind me. Not going to lie, it's strange being back.

After leaving Hamburg, I spent a few days in Berlin. My host parents from the spring were kind enough to let me stay with them, and I had two full days--Sunday and Monday--which I spent in exactly the way I wanted, saying goodbye to my favorite city.

On Sunday I went to the Flohmarkt and got souvenirs, finally made it to the DDR Museum and the museum in the Holocaust Memorial, and watched the news coverage of the Berlin elections with my host parents. On Monday I had some business to take care of and experienced the thrilling paranoia of walking home with over 1000 Euro in my backpack from cashing out my bank account. Then I watched Tschick in a near-empty theater and spent too much money on notebooks and wandered around the Freie Universit├Ąt.

I woke up on Tuesday at 0530 in Berlin and went to sleep on Tuesday at 2200 in California.

My Wednesday to Friday were spent writing emails, eating, walking, and sleeping. On Saturday I moved back and got my room all set up. I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out.
(I particularly like the parallelism of these decorations. The Polaroid-style postcards are from Berlin and Hamburg; the MRI is of my head; Memento Mori e Festina Lente. The art on the bookshelf is all by the infinitely talented Lieutenant Sarcasm.)

I want to write more in-depth posts about my six months abroad before it all fades away in the rush of the school year. The bubble is really a vortex that strips away everything you may bring with you until you remember no life before setting foot on campus--or at least that's how it felt freshman year. And this year feels like a second freshman year for a variety of reasons more or less superficial--I started a new journal so I can't read back to the previous two years, I'm in a dorm where I don't know most of the people, some of my most important people are far away (on the other side of campus, abroad), I've been away for six months so campus feels new--but I have begun, slowly, to regain the feeling of being a continuous creature, of building something that will last me the rest of my life.

This quarter I am taking four civil engineering classes (or rather, five but one is a weekly seminar), which is a little scary. Fluid mechanics, geotechnical engineering, structural analysis, and steel design. I really want to do well in all of them. Somehow I ended up in leadership positions for two extracurrics, so those are also taking a lot of time, but I also greatly enjoy having power and being the person making executive decisions.

The first week back is always exhausting, and the rest of the quarter is likely to be the same--although once things settle into a routine I'll be better able to manage it. It's going to be a long year, I can feel it, but also one where I really build the knowledge and skills that will (ahem) be the foundation of my professional life.

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