Wednesday, December 1, 2010


November has come to a close and sadly, we've left autumn as a thing of the past. Falling has become the theme of my life now. The first is the snowfall. I've woken up to a shining, white layer of snow for about a week now. I've never been a huge fan of the frozen water, but it certainly brings a sense of cozy, Christmas cheer with it. It also brings me to my second fall: me simply falling. With the first overnight freeze I fell off my bike on the way to school. I'm talking complete wipeout on the main road outside my apartment. I've fallen up and down the stairs in my house numerous times in the past week, leaving my body bruised from the cold marble and me running on ibuprofen. I spent the past Sunday in München falling in love with the Christmas market called Tollwood and the French-Canadian show 7 Fingers: Traces that we saw. I've never seen a show that I enjoyed so thoroughly. I also spent much of Sunday and Monday falling down laughing with my friend Hayley from Australia. I had an astoundingly good time with her.
Here comes the fall with the hardest landing: falling apart. It happens occasionally. I can't pretend that this exchange all snowflakes and Christmas cheer, because it's far from it. There are so many times a day that I have to ask myself "Why am I even here?". I say, "Sarah Jane, you have such a great life at home, why are you giving that up for even a second? You must be absolutely bonkers, girl." And maybe I am. I have given up a year with parents I adore, friends who know me better than I do, a dog who is on his home-stretch of life, and most of all, comfort in my life. This is what I chose. Every cloud has a silver lining, though. I can't remember the details of my last miserable night or day here, but I can vividly recall the pure joy I felt in the happy times: My new school friends taking me to ice cream for my sweet sixteen, going to see Blue Man Group with district 1840 in Berlin, Seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with my friends in München, Lily spending the weekend here, going to Tollwood with Hayley. Notice anything about my moments of happiness? They all exist because of the people I was with. So, you see, I may be miserable sometimes, but for me, the fleeting moments of joy to remember or to look forward to somehow make everything worth it. I want to stress something to any prospective exchange students (Rotary or otherwise): Make sure that a year of exchange is what you want. It's a big decision and a year is a long time. I applied on a whim, although I knew I wanted to study abroad, but it still wasn't as though I knew what I was getting myself into. Don't arrive and after three months decide that was enough. Rotary isn't for everyone and other programs can be just as fufilling. I know people who have made a mistake in choosing Rotary as their program and they have left their exchanges early. Although I support their courage to correct their path, it is always sad to see someone leave. Find something that works for you. I promised to write the truth in this blog and this is as raw as it gets.
On that delightful note, I begin falling into place (again). I believe that Rotary is right for me, if not for the program then for the people I've met through it. The people I have gotten to know and the things I have learned have convinced me that although a whim, my choice was right for me. I'm okay with the lonliness and getting better at dealing with the occasional misery. As I head into winter and more slippery accidents, I'm sure, I keep myself busy with friends and the ever entertaining book selection I have on my Kindle, Luka. I'm looking forward to my first skiing experience and holidays with a new family. Break out the advent calendars and brace yourself for Christmas: Winter is officially here.--sjinternational


  1. Sarah - always remember - it's the people. Just like your wonderful parents, their friends, and your friends, their are such wonderful people all over the world. The only thing that separates us is our language and geography. Embrace the people and embrace the love, as that is what I was able to do when I traveled around the world. Enjoy this experience!

  2. Awesome, both your writing and the sentiment. These are some of the days that will shape you and guide you on the crazy path of "Life!" Keep eating the knockwurst shnitzel.
    Aunt Helga