I have been living in Latvia and Norway the past year. Two countries I have never been before, two very different ones, two very different lifes I had. And shortly before I went back to Germany, I was thinking. A year abroad changes you, in my case it actually changed my life and my views on some things even more than I expected.
So I decided that there are some things I’d like to do different, some “good resolutions” for my time back in Germany. I have to admit, I’m already a month in Germany when I’m writing this now… So I hope I haven’t already forgot some of my resolutions ;)
1. Get rid of some of my stuff
I went to Latvia with 23 kg and my hand luggage. Same with Norway. When I went to Norway I did not only pack my clothes and some very few personal things, but also a supply of drugstore articles and a little bit of food, as I knew that both is really expensive in Norway. (It might sound a bit stupid, but I can tell you that I’m glad it took that stuff with me instead of stuffing my suitcase only with clothes!) And guess what? I (almost) never missed anything! I was happy with the very few things I had! Surprisingly I wasn’t often thinking “I don’t have anything to wear”, in fact I feel like I’m thinking this more often here in Germany which is quite paradox because I do have much more stuff here than I had in Norway and Latvia. I guess you get picky when you have too much stuff ;)
There is also a series of advantages of not possessing so much stuff. So many that I just decided to write a blog post about minimalism in the near future :) But I can tell you: I felt better having less things around me!
So my first resolution: Get rid of some of my stuff! That’s not that easy for me as I tend to collect too much stuff, having a hard time throwing away things ;) But do I really need stuff I even forgot that it exists until I came back and saw it?
2. Be active for animal rights
I became quite active for animal rights in Norway. Sometimes it was stressful, sometimes I was thinking: “What are you actually doing? Certainly not what a typical person abroad is doing”. I was also travelling far less than in Latvia (but this had other reasons as well), spending much more time planning and organising animal rights & vegan stuff. But it felt right. And I’d do it again like that. I do not regret spending not that much time on e.g. travelling.
First of all I met wonderful people through that. That wasn’t why I did it and I actually didn’t expect it. But therefore it’s even nicer that it happened. Secondly I felt the need to do something. Maybe I felt it even more as I wanted to do something actively in Latvia, but it was almost impossible with the language barrier. (In that sense Norway is wonderful, although I couldn’t speak Norwegian I had so many possibilities and people have absolutely no problem with me speaking English.) So feeling the need to do something I came up with that Vegan Evening idea as well as the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. And that’s how it all started. It worked, so I continued with other stuff.
Back here in Germany I don’t know anyone involved in animal rights. But let’s change that. For the animals. For the planet. For the people.
3. Continue learning Norwegian
I have to admit that I didn’t do as much as I wanted for my Norwegian skills in Norway. There were often things which seemed more important at that very moment (*coughing* often from the category above). However, I was (fortunately) surrounded by a lot of Norwegian which was difficult at first (I remember my second day of the internship with three team meetings each lasting one hour… completely in Norwegian).
So at least I developed a lot of passive knowledge, means I can understand quite something, but it’s hard for me to speak by myself.
Now back in Germany I think it’s a pity to just stop as I did make an effort to learn Norwegian before I went to Norway and in Norway. If I stop, I’ll just forget everything and after spending so much time with the language… yes, once again, it would simply be a pity.
What is the gain from learning Norwegian? Good question! I don’t know, maybe I’ll return to Norway one day? Then it’d be quite helpful in order to find a job there. And if I don’t… well, then I’m at least able to communicate with friends in their native language which is nice, too.
4. Don’t forget what you’re able to
That’s something personal. I don’t know how you’d assess me based on my blog, but without knowing me personally. But I can tell you I’m not that confident girl just going abroad like that, who gets to know thousands of people in no time and I don’t know what.
To be honest I’m surprised by myself how well I managed everything. It feels a little strange to say that it was me who organized public events, that it was me who gathered these people, … I think I did not know that I was really able to do that in such a good way.
And that’s something I should keep in mind when daily life is catching up with me here in Germany. It’s easy to become pushed back in your old habits (and these are habits of someone who doesn’t do these things, who might think he’s not able to and who doesn’t dare to do these things because people don’t expect it from her).
5. Surround yourself with like-minded people
I think you can learn much from people who are different from you. Nevertheless I think it’s also important to surround yourself every now and then with people who are similar to you, have similar values, similar opinions on different topics, … Feeling like you always have to defend your views, explaining them and so feeling sometimes simply not understood can be really exhausting. Being surrounded with like-minded people gives you strength and keeps you motivated. For example seeing everyone else around you eating dead animals might be hard enough, but feeling like everyone around you thinks you are strange because you don’t eat dead animals is harder.
6. Be open and positive towards everyone – you don’t know their story
That’s nothing very new for me. I always try to be welcoming, positive and without prejudice towards other people. Nonetheless it feels even more important to me now and I feel like I should sometimes be a little bit more careful that prejudice other people might have don’t rub off on me.
7. Get away every now and then
When I’m studying, I’m usually studying. That doesn’t mean I’m sitting with a book on my desk all day, not really. But I rarely leave the town where I’m living. But leaving every now and then for just a day, a weekend or so might make me feel better. Just to see something different, to escape the daily life, … it’s refreshing and makes me feel more alive.
Have you been abroad as well and had some good resolutions? If so, which and how did it work out?