Back to reality (Viet Girl’s finale)

10 08 2011

Want to read this blog from the beginning? Start from the first post!

At 6:51 PM my plane pulled into Philadelphia. After a long, 20-hour period of travel, I had finally made it home.

My sister and mom, unexpectedly, were waiting at the gate for me! However, I was so totally dead-tired that I didn’t even realize it.

A quick phone call cleared this up, however, and soon I was reunited with my family!

And then my family promptly took me to Philly Chinatown for Asian food as though it was urgent.

Finally, my dad drove us home, where I unpacked my suitcase to show my family my souvenirs:

So now, after 6 weeks, I’m back home. It feels a little strange. Germany was like a break from reality. Now that I’m home, I need to

And now that I’m home, I’ve had the chance to reflect. Specifically on two points that YFU told us:

1. You will get reverse culture shock.

Yeah. Six weeks is not a long time. A lot of kids experience “reverse culture shock,” where suddenly their home country is the strange one and their foreign exchange country is normal. I was only in Germany for six weeks. It didn’t happen to me.

2. Your foreign exchange experience will change you. You will change. You will come home a completely different person.

It’s the truth. I don’t feel much different. I don’t feel any more mature, or responsible, or capable, or aware. I just feel like… myself. Should I have changed? Should I suddenly be a better, greater, more magnanimous person? Well, it is what it is, and I am what I am. Whatever that happens to be.

However, I did learn a few things when I went to Germany. One of them being….

I tried my best not to think of my exchange as a vacation, but in many ways it felt like one. I didn’t have much time to really live in Germany, make friends, integrate myself into the culture. Six weeks is way too short to truly get to experience German life! Perhaps that’s why I haven’t changed. But going for a semester or year definitely takes guts, that’s for sure.

One thing that I really loved was how many different people I met– from different places, different backgrounds, different views. But every time I met someone new, it always looked like this:

Everything seems normal when you see it every day. Hills of vineyards that I found fascinating my host family did not. It really put things in perspective for me. The Philadelphia suburbs might seem boring to me, but someone else may find it amazing. Then again, maybe not.

Americans are painfully, painfully uneducated in geography. Even all the Germans I talked to knew where Philadelphia was.

And finally:

I never thought I would go abroad. It seemed like a distant dream, one that other people achieved– not me. I’m too average. An average kid in a sub-average school in an average suburb. Germany was a complete surprise (especially for me, who applied for Japan) and even after I was accepted, I couldn’t believe I was going. But it happened. I went abroad. Maybe the biggest thing I realized in Germany is that people are free to do whatever they want– it just takes a little drive, a little work, and a lot of luck.

So I’m finally home. Settled. Germany was an incredible, amazing experience that I wouldn’t give up for the world– but my Germany journey is over. Life goes on, however– now I’m preparing to go to college in the fall. I’ve determined that I’m studying abroad at any cost. I’m going to bust my butt studying biology in the hopes of traveling and getting into med school. For now, I’m back in America, but even here, there’s more to come!

Thus ends the trip of a Viet girl in Germany. As this is the end, I have to thank everyone who’s ever read, liked, or commented on this blog. I started this blog for myself– but ended up writing it for the dozens of people who kept up with it. (At least, I think dozens, based on the pageview counter.) To be able to inform and entertain people with my misadventures in Deutschland– it really means a lot to me. Writing this blog was really fun, but you are the ones who made it truly worth it! I’m really grateful!

So, lastly:

And:

Thank you, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I did!

—Vy