Here are the top ten things I've learned from living in Germany and Austria this year.
1. Taking a chance will be the best thing you've ever done! I was feeling unsure about moving from Cologne (where I was in my first semester) to Vienna (where I spent my second semester) as I thought it can't get any better – but really it did.
2. The weather in England is a joke! I didn't realise how bad it was until I now have this incredible European weather to compare it to.
3. The more you do, the easier it becomes! At first I found listening to or speaking German all the time exhausting, but the more I did, the less tired I became.
4. You appreciate your home cuisine so much. The phrase, 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone', is so true. I found myself dreaming about classic English foods like Marmite, Yorkshire puddings and Cadbury's chocolate.
5. Finally hearing your native language sounds magical. Even hearing the self-checkout voice in English at the supermarket made me feel nostalgic. Never did I think 'unexpected item in the bagging area' would bring me any other emotion than annoyance!
6. Keeping up with both languages is difficult. I found myself forgetting English words. Bilingual? More like byelingual.
7. We're all the same. I've met people from all around the world and I've learned that regardless of gender or nationality, we all have kindness within us.
8. And yet we all have our quirks and traditions but we can share them with each other and spread the happiness and joy.
9. Language learning is hard. There's so much vocabulary and then comes slang and then comes dialect and add accent on top of that. But it's so worth it. It's the most satisfying feeling to understand and participate in a conversation.
10. Thanks to technology we can create a home from home. I can FaceTime my family and have them 'with me' on my adventures. My year abroad has been an amazing journey and it's taught me so much, not only about other cultures but also about myself. I would thoroughly recommend spending time abroad. I've only just touched on the advantages as they are endless! So do it, take that leap of faith into the unknown and start your own enriching and empowering experience.
Would you like to live abroad?