The Memories I Did (Not) Make
This week, I visited my exchange university (the University of Regensburg) - it was just a short visit to pick up my printer as ours at home broke, but at least I got to see it again. With all teaching being online, I have hardly been to campus. My mom's partner drove me to Regensburg and since he had not been to the campus yet, we went on a short walk around campus before driving back.
When walking around campus, we quickly got lost. I was the one leading the way and I quickly had absolutely no clue where we were. That showed me how little I actually knew the place. It reminded me of how lost I was in Cambridge in the beginning and how I was certain that I would never find the law faculty again (Elena from a few years ago was a little dramatic...). It was a bit of a sad realisation for me as it showed me how different than expected my year abroad turned out.
While walking around campus, we also noticed how few students we saw. The semester only starts on Monday, so that might be a reason. But many areas for sitting around during breaks were also closed off due to the pandemic and it felt a bit like a ghost uni. Knowing how busy a university usually is, it was a sad reminder of how much things have changed. I feel like visiting campus really made me realise how much has been put on hold.
But although things are very different this academic year and although I will probably not get to really be on campus and experience student life in Regensburg, I am grateful for the experience this year. I did not get to make memories on campus and exploring the city, but I nonetheless got a great experience overall. When I heard that all my classes would be online, I was scared that I would struggle a lot as an exchange student, but the teachers at Regensburg offered a lot of support and their classes were well-structured.
It was definitely hard to make friends and I do not think that I have formed any deep friendships during this year abroad simply because it is very hard to meet anyone when everything is online - but this experience has made me appreciate the friendships I have. My friend Dan from the UK and I have been texting pretty much daily and FaceTiming at least once a week - we do not have any big things to discuss, we just chat and sometimes we just FaceTime each other while doing other things so that we have company. I have learned that I have some amazing friends and all this has made me appreciate them so much more.
And in some way, I am also proud of myself. This year abroad has definitely not been easy peasy lemon squeezy for me, but I worked hard for all my classes and even wrote a second journal article for publication which is coming out this year. Overall, I think this year abroad taught me some resilience and to be grateful for the amazing people I have in my life. The memories I made in my first semester were not the ones I expected to make during my year abroad, but I am still grateful for the experience.
The next semester is starting today - let's see what it has in store for me!
Lots of Love,
P.S.: The title picture of this post was taken by Jan Z and edited by adding a picture licensed via Adobe Stock.