On beautiful, lazy days, the sun shines right into my room at 10.15. The rays linger for about ten minutes. I gaze dozily at the shadows they paint. At 10.25 the magic is gone again, but I know it is going to be a good day.
Another European capitol – check!In 2017 I’ve already visited Brussels, Belgium, for two days with one of my closest friends. It was more convenient to meet up there, neither of us had heard much about the city. In fact, there is also not that much to see for tourists. There is a public square with some old buildings, a peeing boy sculpture and a large iron atom. Those are the touristy spots. Flora and I thus spent most of our time strolling around, eating a lot, getting our hair cut and catching up. A lot of catching up.
We had a really great time.
As I get older I am encountering new challenges I did not anticipate. Most of the liberties I’ve gained, such as moving away, making new friends or just the possibility to take a trip to Brussels on a whim, are accompanied by efforts. One of adult life’s main efforts, I have come to learn, is to keep in touch with friends and family.
I love all of my friends. I love spending time with them. I love taking trips with them. However, it is strenuous to keep it up, when we are separated for a longer period of time by distance or busy schedules. By now, I have friends from many different stages of my life: friends from elementary school, high school, church, my exchange year, trips, university, my dorm, and hopefully this list will just keep getting longer. There is nothing greater than making new friends.
However, as a (semi-)adult I am now responsible for keeping all of those wonderful relationships alive. They do not tend to themselves, because we are all going different directions. We make different choices, and that is great! In order to not lose each other in the process, though, we need to ceaselessly make the conscious decision not to do so. We have to text or call each other, ask questions and be interested. That is an effort, and it does not stop.
My trip to Brussels with Flora, however, has shown me once again that the effort is worth it. It is worth friendships. It is worth insider jokes. It is worth spending quality time with quality people.
All of my friends are quality people. If you are one of them and we haven’t spoken in a while: I am sorry. Text me! Tag me under a meme we both find hilarious! Meet me spontaneously in a European capitol! I will be there, because you, my friend, are worth it.
I am just trying to navigate my way through adult life. It is hard some times, but pretty awesome at others.
Thanks for reading.
Today I want to talk about the best Christmas present I received. We will have to dig deep into the last ten years for that one.
My family moved to Switzerland in 2006 when I was nine years old. I did not want to live there; I thought to be perfectly happy where we had lived before. Switzerland has a historically based hostility towards Germany, thus I was bullied for my nationality and my different way of speaking. It was tough in the beginning.
Being German in Switzerland is something that occupied me for a long time. I never switched to the dialect. I never enjoyed jokes about Germans. In fact, I even moved back to Germany this summer. It would be a lie, if I said it had nothing to do with the challenges I’ve had been facing for ten years. Going through hard times and prejudices because of my nationality made me cling to it much more.However, I did make friends in Switzerland, really good friends. Most of them I have been close with for a long, long time. They do not care about me being German. With them I went through so much this last decade: so many adventures, ups and downs.
Switzerland did not only give me friends but also a world class education, many aareschwumms, a lot of cheese, countless good memories and overall opportunities only such a privileged country could have given me. Switzerland is beautiful, and in ten years it gave me all I needed and much more.
It became my home.
Two years ago I decided to make it official and become a Swiss citizen. Not because I need it, but because I want it to completely feel at home. I want to not only feel Swiss but be Swiss. Living in Switzerland was always an inner conflict for me between my German and my (unofficial) Swiss side. I moved to Heidelberg this summer, among other reasons to reconnect with the former and thereby fell more in love than ever with the latter.
I cherish being German, but I am now able to joke about my compatriots, too. The same way I treasure being Swiss and teaching the dialect, which I am perfectly capable of by the way, to my dormies here. For me it took moving back to Germany and being teased for being ‘so Swiss in the cutest way’ to finally know that Switzerland is just as much my home as where I and my family are from.
This Christmas my parents got me a fondue set. My friends (Swiss and German alike) made fun of me for getting as excited about it as I did. Eleven days late I received another gift: After ten years of living there and two years of horrid bureaucracy I am now officially a Swiss citizen. With that I get a bright red passport and the right to vote, but most importantly I am no longer a foreigner in neither of my homes: I am a Swiss citizen, who right now could not be happier to be in my cozy little dorm room in Heidelberg.
The greatest moment of my new dual nationality was how equally and genuinely happy my Swiss and German friends and family were for me, because they all know how much this means to me.
I don’t know where the future will lead me to: Germany or Switzerland. I can now say more freely than ever I feel at home in either of those countries.
Thanks for reading.