Don’t be initiated just to go home

It’s the semester break for students here at University of Mainz, but it’s a bittersweet relief because many of our new friends who are students from other European countries will be returning to their homes after only one semester abroad. For those of us who are staying two semesters, the next semester presents us with a new opportunity to use what we’ve learned over the first four months here.

When I first arrived in Mainz, I was like a babe in the woods. I spoke hardly a word of German. I got lost in the city every other day. I got lost in the university buildings, too. Now, after four months of trial and error, I feel like the kung fu student who has finally learned enough to take on the Yakuza, or whatever they fight in those movies.

I don’t get lost in the city anymore. I can ride the buses with the competence of a local. I know the good bars and clubs to go to. I know when happy hour is at each of these. I can speak German well enough to get around confidently. To go back now would be like quitting the game right after the tutorial.

I know ten months to a year sounds like a long time to study abroad. At first, I was intimidated by the length of time I’d be spending in this new and unfamiliar place, but now that I am more comfortable and at ease here, I look forward to truly immersing myself in the culture of Germany.

So don’t be afraid to study abroad for a longer period. The initiation phase passes by quickly, and what’s the point of being initiated just to go home?