I came to you as a very tanned, slightly apprehensive, rather French-sounding English person, full of expectations. And you did not let me down. Thank you for proving and shattering stereotypes; showing me the fun of travelling; the joys (and grievances) of teaching; the beauty of friendship, and making me into 'one of yours'.
I will miss your wonderful array of herbal tea; your fabulous Brötchen (and bread as a whole), and your amazing knack of making a night out last several days, even if that is just the repercussions of having left the house at 10 in the evening and not coming back until 6 in the morning (the club, incidentally, not even having closed yet). I'll miss your people's keenness for sporty activity, thus rendering the question ' Do you play sport?' useless, and replacing it with 'What kind of sport do you do?' (ahem, volleyball). I'll also miss their penchant for travelling ridiculous distances for a holiday, even if it's just for the weekend and half the time will be spent on the road getting there and back (it's just good to get away, you know?). On a similar note, I'll miss their incorrigible interest for different cultures and languages, and just how much they love to demonstrate this, even if it does make practising German a little difficult at times!
Some things I won't miss, however, are getting up at six in the morning to go to work while it's still dark; your people's seeming obsession with sparkling water (Tap water is fine. No, honestly!); the permanent lateness of your trains, particularly when you want to get somewhere important/have a connection to catch (Note: after my journey back home was punctuated by having one train come late, one being cancelled at the last minute and one bus just not bother to turn up at all, I stand by this point. German public transport, you suck!). I'll not miss your people's inability to form a queue (letting the person that was there first go to the new till in the supermarket? Just not the done thing. And letting people off the train before you plough on with all your suitcases/prams/children in tow? Not a chance!), and their terrible Europop/Club music mix that is all there is to be heard on the radio all day long (actually, I might miss that a bit. Just the Europop part. And only sometimes).
All in all, I've learnt a ridiculous amount during these six months that I've been here, not least a rather hefty amount of German! I've also developed my sense of organisation, my directness, and my general knowledge of the world as we know it (so far, so German). Also my guitar-playing skills, a nice addition to the group, if not as predictable as the others!
Let me finish with one final thing that I will miss about your wonderful country. Your lovely people and their fabulous sense of occasion, which I have had the luck to experience often of late, in saying my goodbyes to the various friends and acquaintances I have managed to gather in my short time here. I will be forever grateful that they decided to take me in, welcome me and call me friend (or even family, in some cases). To leave that behind will be hard. But there is one things you can be sure of:
I will be back!
All my love,