EI Sur al Norte
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The following group of stories I have written are the reflections of my time spent living in Western Europe. In August of 2009, I left for Karlsruhe, located on Germany's western border in the Baden-Wiirttemberg region. I worked for a freelance journalist who edited Wristwatch Annual. I wrote articles about posh lifestyles and translated automatic and mechanical watch details from German to English. I entered the world of luxury watches, a popular trade in central Europe which I never knew existed. I learned how these technical marvels work, I learned how to speak German, and I learned the basics of how to live in a foreign country on my own. The following two weeks I spent backpacking solo, visiting friends or exploring a city on my own. I made all my travel plans and somehow managed to get by with basic German training and only seeing one familiar face for the past two months. In September, I moved to Caceres, Spain, near the Spain-Portugal border, where I studied at the Universidad Extremadura. I moved in with a host family and gained knowledge of new people, a new city, and a new culture that flourished with each step forward. I traveled to other Spanish countries and had the pleasure of having my family and boyfriend travel to Europe to see me. I went through some of the most exultant highs and dismal lows I have ever experienced in my 22 years on Earth. My return to the United States in February 2010 was the equivalent of letting out a big sigh and crumbling to the floor. I was relieved to return to American culture, but I also felt no challenge or pressure-to some extent, I felt useless. I didn't have to make life-altering decisions like I did when I was traveling or when I was faced with cultural barriers. I didn't have the same problem of time-management. The competition of German, Spanish, and English thoughts ceased and there was no replacement for the task. At the time the break was agonizing until I started my studies at Kalamazoo College again, but looking back it was important step of an,alyzing my previous experience. Even with all the challenges that I faced living and traveling in a foreign country, I learned an immense amount in a short period of time. I want to go back, use what I learned, and challenge myself more. I want to learn from my mistakes and I want to reflect on the culture I experienced. Most of all, I want to embrace the uncertainty of what lies ahead.