Life in Germany: Truth of living abroad


Photo by Shelbi R. Ankiewicz

Aydin Rzazade and Shelbi Ankiewicz in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

I stood in line at an airport, slightly shaking with red eyes and a backpack full of clothes as I said goodbye to someone whom I shared the past six months of my life with. 

If you ever have an opportunity to study abroad, even if it’s the slightest possibility, pursue it. Pursue it with everything you have and work for it until you get it. I always knew I wanted to go abroad, but I never fully understood why people encouraged it so much, until I did it and became one of those people myself. 

I was originally supposed to do a Maymester in Berlin back in 2020, but it was canceled because of the pandemic. I was devastated and thought I would never have another chance to go abroad during my undergrad. Junior year quickly approached, and my only options were to stay at CCU or do a full semester abroad. 

Now, I was always told, “the longer the program, the better.” I was a little skeptical about leaving home and creating a new residency in an unfamiliar place, especially for six months, but I knew this was my only ticket to Europe, so I took it. 

My entire experience abroad has been amazing.  

Just to name a few things, I have made worldly connections, immersed myself into cultures that were once unknown to me, became more open-minded, given myself a huge confidence booster, and I don’t take things as seriously as I used to. Although all of this is true, I want to return to the opening sentence of this article.  

Studying abroad, although amazing, is heavily glorified. We seem to always talk about the good, but never the bad. So, let’s chat.  

You move to a new place and let down your guard to meet new people. You become vulnerable, live with each other every day, go traveling, share dinners together, and then: everyone leaves. 

You stay a second semester and everyone you know is gone within a split second. It feels like that chapter of your life was a part of a movie you’ll never forget. 

You leave home and try to keep in contact with your family and friends. You miss them and watch your little brother get his first girlfriend and first heartbreak, and your sister go through three different jobs by little updates here and there. You are loving life but missing out on what’s happening at home.  

You make time to travel around Europe but end up surviving off snacks, getting stuck at a train station for three hours overnight in 35-degree weather, losing 20 pounds because you walk everywhere and are completely drained since you’re trying to simultaneously manage travel, work, studies, and a social life. 

 It’s little things like this people don’t tell you or prepare you for before leaving home. Yet, maybe they don’t tell you because there is no way of avoiding it.  

The whole experience is bittersweet. You fall madly in love and then are forced to say goodbye, at least temporarily, to someone who might have been your soul mate. You grow as an individual but are also watching your loved ones succeed from far. 

Everything in life is about give and take. So, take chances when they are given to you.