Germany: A Year Ago

I discovered this gem on my Google drive from last year. I wrote this a year ago! I had just learned that I would be going to Germany for three months in 2015 (April, May, and June). Ah, the naivete and hope. I've injected my editor's notes from today in italics. Here it is:

Me and Mona

Me and Mona

I just found out I will be living and working in Germany for three months next year! I am beyond thrilled, though the assignment did start at a year and get whittled down to six months and finally three (though I guess a year is still a possibility It is!). I’ve been taking German classes for a year and a half and still suck, basically. Time to get serious on that end of things, then. Nope, still suck at German.

A few months ago, we had a girls weekend with some college friends. As of two months ago, I am the only one not married. Luckily, the non-moms are still the majority, though it’s getting close and half of the non-moms are trying to join the other team. It's officially tipped - of my six good college friends, there are two of us without babies and the other one is trying so hard. In the midst of the chatter about husbands and babies and trying to have babies, one of my long-time married, trying-to-get-knocked-up friends turned to me and said, Nicole, one day, I’m going to call you at my wit's end with all these kids, and you’re going to be going to Paris for the weekend. I honestly don't even remember which friend said this... So many are having babies! But honestly, everyone has to make their own choices, develop their own values. Differences are good, as long as we can still be friends and respect each other. You have your babies, I'll go to NYC for the weekend.

At the time, I was honestly a little upset with all the husband and baby chatter, feeling very excluded. I didn’t know how to take her comment. Pity? Jealousy? Throwing me a conversation bone?

Well, now I can tell you - I’m going to be in Paris for the weekend! It is really going to happen! The German city I’m staying in is a three hour train ride from Paris. Paris! I went twice last year. It was awesome. I am probably going back Easter weekend.

I posted the announcement of my upcoming trip on Facebook and it instantly became my most liked and commented-on post. I posted that I moved to Germany a few weeks ago and people are still randomly commenting on it/liking it... thanks guys! Honestly though, the support and encouragement from friends is really appreciated. I hope I'm not super annoying. I probably was last year - every weekend I was posting pictures of the cool place I went that day. This year is much more chill...

But hey, in four months or so I will probably back to this document, crying about how much I miss home and burgers and two buck chuck and my cat and my mom. So naive - the wine is cheaper and better here and the burgers are awesome. No cat or Mom though...

I definitely want to go to Rome. It’s a fifteen hour train ride but it will never be closer. My plan is to utilize a long weekend, take an overnight train there. Give me three full days in Rome, then do the same back. I have always wanted to go to Rome. It is the ultimate European vacation for me. It will also be the longest train ride of the trip, probably the first one I’ll reserve. But it’s right there. Rome. I have already decided I’m sending a picture of me in front of the Colosseum to my high school Latin professor, via his daughter I’m friends with on Facebook. I actually flew to Rome! It was a hassle to fly for just a weekend but incredibly worth it. As for the Latin professor, the daughter ended up not being helpful at all but I sent him a postcard when I got back to the States.

I imagine myself on the train, sharing a compartment with people from all over Europe, none of them speaking English. Traveling along the Italian countryside. And me, a kid from that small town famous for the white squirrels. In the middle of it. Wondering if my mom has any idea where I am. If I should have asked her permission. And I’ll be there, gaining experiences I will never forget. I never really traveled along the Italian countryside, but the European countrysides I did travel along were incredible. Travelling by train - the States needs to make that easier. Last year, I traveled every weekend, somewhere new (except for the repeat of Paris and Munich). It was surreal. I added pictures to Facebook every weekend.  It was nice to share the experience and keep a little bit for me to remember. And now that I've been to those places - seen the Mona Lisa and been inside the Colosseum and touched the Berlin Wall, I'm so glad and happy and surprised that I got see them. And it doesn't matter what happens next, I'm always going to have the memories of standing on top of the Eiffel Tower and walking in the Tiergarten and drinking a beer at the Hofbrauhaus.

I went to Greece for a week in college. My two favorite memories - sitting in the bus, staring out the window, while the Greek countryside, prettier than any picture, rolled past; visiting some tiny island, all the white houses stacked on top of each other. Looking like any movie that took place in Greece ever. And I was there. Not looking at it in a picture. Not reading about it online. But experiencing it.

Well, 2015-Nicole, that wasn't as embarrassing as I thought it would be. And we're back for a year!