Long time no blog – I've been sticking to my challenges and trying to navigate the ups and downs of graduate school, but just haven't had a chance to sit down and write. This is [was] weekend 4/4 of travel (first to Zingst, then to Stuttgart, then to Kraków, now to Spain), and frankly I'm exhausted. My recovery time wasn't recovery, just more work. This being said, I'm so grateful to have had so many recent opportunities to travel, and so excited to be sitting in the Berlin Schönefeld airport, drafting this post and waiting for my plane to Spain... which brings me to today's topic: friendship.
(Sidenote: I started writing this a couple weeks ago. I've been back in Leipzig for about two weeks now, spent one of those being sick and the other running around with another friend who came here to visit me!)
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have friends who live around the world. It's as simple as that. I've hosted students in Ohio whom I have then visited in their home countries; I have met people during my studies and other travels abroad who are some of the closest friends I have; I have friends from classes who I didn't expect to connect with again but who I've found in random corners of the world; I can oftentimes find a couch to crash on in said corners of the world (in exchange for mine, of course). This isn't the first time I've talked about my friends on this blog – my inaugural post was about some of my oldest friends, the "Gethsemane Girls;" I've written about multiple decades of friendship with my friend Colin; and the ups and downs of traveling, including a cameo of my friend Bethany, who thankfully is on the mend. I'm currently [when I first wrote this, I was] en route to visit my friend Lindsey who lives in Córdoba, and runs a kick-ass blog (click here) in her spare time. I have plans to see my friend Nina about once a month while we're living only about a 5 hour train ride from each other. [The friend who I just put on a train to go back to Stuttgart after spending three days in Leipzig with me. I really should have finished this post when I started it, haha. Now back to the present, aka December 7.]
If there's anything I've learned from moving abroad (and believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg!), it's that it takes an ocean to realize who your true friends are. The people you travel with may be these friends, or the people who will be awake at weird hours to Skype in the middle of the night. There are people who I didn't think were going to be part of my life once I moved, but that I'm now wishing I had spent more time with when we lived in the same city; there are people who I was very close with who I have barely spoken to since I left the U.S. more than three months (!!!) ago.
I am super excited to show my cousin Bethany (different Bethany from the aforementioned one) and her friend Kayla around my no-longer-so-new home next week, and then to welcome my sister and mom to Leipzig on Christmas Day... but while I love my family dearly, friends are the family you get to choose. I would never have caught up on a childhood of missing movies/tv shows without my former roomies, Kelly and Cassie. I never would have gone on a semi-last-minute trip to Chicago if I didn't have a Nina to explore and stay in a mildly-sketchy AirBnb with. My classical music knowledge would have been limited and very strings-biased had I not spent so much time with my friend Mark (not to mention, I wouldn't have had a close place to live when I interned in Cincinnati a few summers ago without his apartment to sublease). I would not be as close to reaching my sarcastic and awkward potential as I am without the guidance of my friend Ray. I would feel a little worse about missing Thanksgiving (and next spring, Easter) had my friend David not been more than happy to become part of my family (not kidding... they refer to him as "Cousin David"). I wouldn't have as fun a photo adventure pal here in Leipzig had my friend Christine and I not bonded over our mutual camera-nerdiness. I would be way less fashionable had my friend Katie responded to my every text, Snapchat and WhatsApp message regarding whether or not I should wear/buy X item. I wouldn't be as comfortable with changing my mind and pivoting my career had my friend Paola not assured me that I am not the only one, and that I can do anything I set my mind to. I probably would have exploded in frustration and confusion by now had my friend Ayleen not been here to explain how to survive grad school and to be the big sister that I never had. I wouldn't know anything about sportsball without my friend Brad (not that I know that much, but his friendship is what matters here). I wouldn't have a pseudo-brother slash sometimes-fake-husband if Eli (Hiller) and I hadn't worked for the HSJW together or been neighbors my junior year. I could go on and on, but I need to get back to working on my thesis and these are the first people who popped into my head this morning.
I would not be the person I am without all of these amazing people in my life to inspire me, who are not at all obligated to love me (though I hope my family genuinely likes me too), and who frustrate me on a daily basis. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving/giving thanks around the holidays, since that's when I originally meant to post this, thank you all for being part of my life.