Almost every German I know have wanderlust (a German word, fittingly) and itching need to go off to somewhere else – be it another city, country or continent, the more far away, the better – whenever an opportunity arises. An opportunity – like high school graduation.
And I’m not even talking about three-month-backpacking-trips. As the graduation date came nearer and nearer, students all around me would talk about what they were going to do after leaving this wretched institution of learning (their words, not mine). Many had no idea what they wanted to become, but many did know how they were going to spend the first year after the freedom: they were going to another country for a year. Or they were going to do a FSJ, a voluntary social year. Anything to postpone the start of more learning, really.
I know I’m hardly the only one to start university right away, but I daresay I’m the only one eager to start it. People from my graduation class are going to Ireland, Chile, England, probably the U.S. and wherenot while I’m perfectly content to sit at home and wait for October to finally arrive. Difference in nature? I think so. The others – because they are the overwhelming majority – think I’m a nerd, a blip in the social radar. After all, after 12-freakin’-years of having education forced on you, you are supposed to want to go as far away from desks and textbooks as possible. Right?
I just happen to like learning. If that makes me a freak, so be it. What makes me upset is that because of that subtle social pressure – a weird look slanted my way, a surprised exclaim, a half-joke saying I’m the odd one out – I find myself finding my life so… boring.
My life isn’t boring. Yes, I’m not immune to the prospect of living a year in a foreign country with all its adventures and challenges, but because I know myself, I know it isn’t for me. Yes, I would love to live in the U.S., but I would be in absolute heaven if I could go to an American law school. Yes, Ireland is the country of my dreams and I will travel to various cities and countryside before I die, but what would I do for a whole year when I don’t even know much about the Irish history and have scarcely money?
I’m not much of a traveling person, but I have the fortune of having parents who were determined to see their daughters see the world. So we have been to various German cities (Berlin, Füssen, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Baden, München, Köln, etc.), Salzburg, Amsterdam and Paris when I was eight. It sounds so very grand, but it has been a day each city (except for Berlin and Köln) and as I said, I was only 8 years old, so I don’t remember much.
I have also been to Italy (Tuscany, to be exact), Prague and again to Paris with my family for short periods of time. During my class trip to England, we visited London, Oxford, Windsor and Eastbourne. I went to Dublin on a three-days-trip with my father two years back.
And somehow, I still am not a better, more knowledgable and worldlier person.
I guess traveling can change a person, the way music, books, movies, love and being out of your comfort zone can. It didn’t change me much.
So while my classmates’ lives go off to different directions… my life moves on, too. Heading towards where I want to be.