Hallo dear friends! You might have been wondering why I have been so bad at about writing on here/keeping up with Voices of Flensburg/retired from writing from the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Well, my love of writing hasn’t really died, all my free time has.
However, the absolute craziness has passed for now, and I am slowly regaining my sanity. My non-addiction to caffeine, not so much.
When I moved to Flensburg, I didn’t really knew what awaited me. I knew that moving on my own would be nothing like exchange. While it has been more challenging, I have been provided with opportunities that little Minnesotan Holly could only dream of.
Summarizing a year is a bit challenging to do as writer. So, without further ado, here are the top five things that have happened this past year.
- I started working at the European Centre for Minority Issues as an Assistant Secretary. The European Centre for Minority Issues is a sort of research center/NGO that advocates for minorities in Europe, and just happens to be a minute walk from where I live. This opportunity started in May, and it has been a journey ever since. I didn’t anticipate getting such a good student job in English so soon, and have quite enjoyed getting to work with such a great team. More about what I do will be in the recent craziness section.
- I made it through my first year of university. I can say that I definitely enjoy the program, and it is relevant to what I want to do in the future. I can now explain all about how the EU was created, how it works, and also some fun stuff about neoliberalism and colonization messing up the world. I also realized that I am very passionate about refugee integration after doing a paper comparing the integration methods of Sweden and Minnesota in the case of Somali refugees. More about that later.
- I made these amazing friends and got some wonderful roommates. I’ve come a long way from not knowing anyone upon arrival. I now live in a beautiful flat in the city center with four others; two from Germany, one from the Netherlands, and one from Kenya. I do spend a lot of time with my friends, who are from Germany and a bunch of other places. My new flatmates are also so kind that they moved the old closet that was gifted to me by my former roommate into my room, which required taking it apart and putting it back together, all before I came back home. They then were extremely kind to me when I came back exhausted and tired, and put up with the mess that I was for approximately two months? It might have been longer, but it’s safe to say that I have a huge amount of appreciation for them.
- Mein Deutsch ist ein bisschen besser. Okay, das ist veile besser. My German has gotten to basic conversation point and I can understand much more. No, it’s not as good as my Danish, but I haven’t exactly had the same amount of free time that I had during my exchange year. I am officially done with A1, but my German is better than that, despite the fact that I have been neglecting the practice book I bought.
- I started to travel more. This summer, I went to Athens, Paros, and Mykonos with Michelle on vacation. It was an incredible experience and a much needed break. Together, Michelle and I experienced a country that we had only really gotten to previously know from Mamma Mia. It’s even more beautiful than I imagined it too be, and is also home to the best tasting mashed potatoes, stunning caves, and more Australians than one could imagine. For work I have also recently traveled to Brussels for a week, and I spent five days in Barcelona for a fall break. If I am going to live in Europe, I am going to take full advantage of the possibilities that I have for traveling.
Recently, my life got more hectic. Here is the most recent craziness:
- I helped organize a summer school (week long event with classes for practitioners and students in the minority field, not the American version when you fail a class) for the ECMI, which took place in Brussels. This is the primary reason why I have been less active with writing – I have had no free time. This was an incredible opportunity where I got to learn how to organize events, and I am excited to see the opportunities that come from it. I had the most amazing participants and coworkers to work with as well, and I am hoping that we can have a reunion sometime.
- I managed to lose my passport in Berlin before heading to Greece. Now, everything is good, but it did happen at one of the more chaotic points in my life.
- My wonderful mother has been beating breast cancer! She recovered from her surgery just in time to visit me, and now is doing radiation while maintaining this positive attitude that is an inspiration.
So, if I have been a little missing in action lately, I must apologize. This all happened within three weeks, and it’s taken a little bit of a toll on my sanity for several months after, and I have not been very good at showing up to social events or responding to people’s messages. I was furthermore very focused on my exam, which went well.
However, through all of this craziness, I have learned that I most likely will go into research for refugee integration/migration/border studies as a career in the long term future, and hope to move to Brussels, Berlin, or Copenhagen after I graduate and work something similar to my job now. At any rate, I’ve found that my home is in Europe, and that I have the strongest base of support from my parents in Minnesota.
I am home in Flensburg this Christmas because I have a lot of work to get done for university and some other possible projects. I will visit Minnesota in April for Easter, but now, I have some very exciting possibilities that need to get done and be done well. The good news is that I will not be alone, and am very excited to have my first Venezuelan Christmas.
I don’t know if my blog name is really appropriate any more, but it’s a little bit of a reminder of who I was. I’m now a strange hybrid of American/Minnesotan/Danish/German, raised with Minnesotan values, and developed by Europe. Perhaps it would better be called a Hybrid in Europe, but then this blog might be mistaken for a car blog. I do know that the future that I dreamed to have in Europe is working out better than I could have pictured, and that I am very excited to see what comes next.
Merry Christmas to all!