I embraced my return to Munich just under two weeks ago with about as much happiness and enthusiasm as a German sales assistant uses to serve customers. None. Despite, against all expectations, really enjoying last term, all I could think about was my loneliness and boredom; wallowing in the misery that is those two together, despairing at my still pretty poor German, thinking why on earth did I not just stick to studying English and subsequently blaming every German teacher I ever had for sparking any remote interest in the language. I don’t know about you but January blues always hits me quite bad. I spend weeks and weeks counting down to Christmas and then to watch it all be taken down in one day, with nothing remotely exciting to anticipate in its place, leaves me often feeling quite empty. But for the past six years I’ve had exams and coursework to keep me occupied and sufficiently stressed; to give me purpose. Having got all necessary work out of the way before the holidays, I had no distraction this year and subsequently used my return to Munich and the ampleness of free time it brought to downward spiral into a cocoon of purposelessness and self-pity, while chain-watching Gossip Girl.
With a slight verbal kick up the backside from mummy, and the return of a couple of friends to Munich, I managed to shake it off (Ms Swift forever being my life’s anthem) and start to remember why I actually enjoyed myself last year. While the highlights such as travelling and other one-off events definitely do contribute to the experience, it’s the littler, more random things that really make it for me. For example, cocktails two nights in a row because the opportunity was there and why not? Doing a free walking tour of Munich so that I finally have something vaguely intelligent to say about the place when people feign interest (did you know it all started because of a bridge?). Playing Taboo and Scrabble in German, against three Germans, and being happy that I didn’t loose by too many points. Happy to loose! And I will leave you with one story that totally sums up why it’s actually good to be back.
Friday morning I was in charge of taking the three year old I live with to Kindergarten. Shouldn’t be a problem having already picked her up a few times in the past and the Kindergarten gives her breakfast. Just got to get her up, dressed and out. The night before the parents quickly brief me on the protocol and check I know where it is. I nod enthusiastically, of course I know where it is, I’ve been before, no need for clarification; as they shut the door and go to bed I quickly suppress the voice in my head telling me it’s not sure I do know where to go. I mean, my sense of direction can’t really be as bad as I think it is. Morning comes, I wake the girl up, shove a hot chocolate at her to stop her crying, get her dressed and put her in the buggy, a couple of tantrums aside, so far so good. I walk confidently up the road, waiting for the familiarity of it to hit me and show me where to go. That never happens. I walk, I turn back and try a different turning, I walk some more, still nothing. I can’t find the Kindergarten. By this point we’ve missed breakfast so I have no choice but to hang my head in shame and go back home while trying to explain to the three year old in frustrated broken German why exactly we can’t get there.
To cut the end of the story short, I tried several ways to find an address, getting very worked up and stressed, but, with no luck, I ended up taking a deep breath, loading kid into buggy and once again following my nose. And I got there. Late. Very late. But there nonetheless. I was in stitches telling the mother what happened. She now knows the phrase “to completely blank” in English. Thus is my battle with year abroad. I have struggles. I battle loneliness, fight boredom, I get frustrated at my so far from perfect German and sometimes, nay often, I just want to go home; but I keep fighting, finding ways to keep busy. And when I look back on it, I realise it was fun, if not hysterical. I may have been lonely on the way at times, but who says you can’t be a lonely and happy?