June 26, 2009 at 9:12 AM
All of you know that there are many different stages in life. Sometimes we are ready to change and enter a new stage, sometimes we struggle against it and want to keep things exactly the way they are.
Right now, I am at another such change in my life. For the last two years, I have been a teaching assistant at a Gymnasium in Germany, and in less than two weeks, its back to home for several weeks and then off to a different state for graduate school. Am I ready for this change? Not really. I would very much like to stay here. Two years is more than enough time to get settled in a place and make good friends. And for me, living in Germany has been my life-long dream. I studied abroad here several years ago, and the return to the US after studying abroad was one of the roughest times of my life. What will it be like after being over here for 2 years?
These past several weeks have all been about saying goodbye and doing those things that I now take for granted that I won't be able to do in the US. I will miss the people the most, and their approach to life. I will miss the public transportation and taking a train to Berlin, the food, speaking German, my students and colleagues, my first violin teacher. And, and, and.....
Yesterday was my last lesson with my teacher. We have been preparing for her student recital for several months now and went over the piece that I am playing for the recital tomorrow. For several lessons now, she has not made many comments, but yesterday, I was having trouble playing without tension because of all the stress from moving. She stopped me in the middle of the piece and had me go back to play it again. This time, I was to play it with a smile, no matter what. So I did, grinning like a Cheshire cat through the whole piece. And wouldn't you know, it worked. Somehow most of the tension was gone and even I could hear the difference in sound. I was even able to do vibrato in first position first finger G string, which I've never been able to do before. What a difference a smile can make.
I am sure that all of us who have lived abroad share your sorrow and apprehension at having to come home, especially from some place as nice and exciting as the one where you are. Good luck making a smooth transition, and remember, that if you want to go back, you can.
Tom is so right! I can really taste the bitter-sweetness of the smile, Elizabeth! It sounds like you are leaving a beautiful place for an exciting one (my grad school years were the best so I’m biased). Very few people are as lucky as you are and I for one certainly envy you. Enjoy and keep us posted.
What Tom says! Oh, you SO have my sympathies. I lived in London for two years and it was wrenching to return, and my next six months in the US were tricky and alienating. Interestingly, my sister is about to come back to the US after her own two years in London, which she loved, and I said to her "don't forget - classical music is international and universal. Get a symphony subscription and visit online forums."
So, don't forget - you don't have to say goodbye to the v.com folks and classical music. We're here and will continue to be. And this certainly is an international community - thank goodness for those of us who like to live beyond the US's borders.
Thanks for the comments. I'll keep what you guys said in mind. The US is very much different from Germany and I know it'll still be a bit of culture shock when I come back no matter how much I prepare myself ahead of time. Good thing is though that I am not going back to Nebraska but will be studying in Illinois, so I'll at leats have the excitement of exploring a new place to keep my mind off of things :)
A couple of days ago I had my last lesson with my violin teacher and Saturday was my first violin recital! Jeez, that's nervwracking to play in front of everyone.....how do all of you always manage??
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