Right now, I am sitting in my room on a late Thursday night, listening to someone play Viva La Vida by Coldplay on the guitar in the room below me. I usually find these late night guitar sessions annoying, but now, on a night when I cannot sleep, it’s pretty soothing. I can’t sleep for a number of reasons. First, I ate a big plate of herb-cream pasta about an hour ago at Schlappen (one of my favorite places to eat here in Freiburg), and I am still completely stuffed. Second, I have a presentation tomorrow that I have yet to prepare for. And third, I can’t stop thinking about the week that lies ahead. As of tonight, I have 9 days left in Freiburg, and there is so much to do in so little time.
I started my final module last week, and not only do I have a presentation tomorrow, I also have a paper due on Monday. How can I balance schoolwork with my strong inclination to spend every day of this last week with the people in my program? Normally, when I’m back at Manhattan College, I would choose schoolwork over my social life because I know that I can hang out with my friends any other time. But here, it’s different. I don’t know if I will be able to see the friends that I have made abroad after my time here. There just may not be “any other time.” We’re all scattered across the United States, some in places that I know I would never have the motivation to visit. Maine? Minnesota? Ohio? I never really believed that I would be going to any of those states in my entire life. So what do I do? All I know is that I want to make the most out of my time here, and I also know that I can’t do that without my friends. I’m still going to finish my work, but it’s taken me a while to realize that sometimes, it’s okay not to stress about schoolwork. It’s okay to let loose and hang out with people that you like, especially if the chances of you ever seeing them again is slim or uncertain.
Furthermore, I also have to pack a semester’s worth of clothing, items, and souvenirs into one suitcase. One suitcase! I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to bring just one suitcase with me to Freiburg, but I’m realizing a little too late that I cannot go shopping without ensuring that I have enough room in my luggage for my new purchases. Unfortunately, I have no self-control and bought way too many things that I will need to somehow stuff into my check-in and carry-on bags while simultaneously making sure that they stay within my airline’s weight limits. So far, I have avoided facing this inevitable challenge. But as my time here in Freiburg is limited, I will have to face it within the next few days.
Finally, I have to complete both of my lists. I have made a list for all of the places that I want to eat at and the activities that I want to do before I leave. Quite frankly, they are pretty short lists because Freiburg is a relatively small city. However, I have food in my fridge that needs to be used up, and I need friends willing to do the activities with me. The good news is that I was able to check one activity off of my list tonight. There’s a blue bridge right in front of the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) that people sit on, and I’ve always wanted to do the same and watch the sunset. After Schlappen today, my friends and I decided that we were in the mood to do exactly that. So we climbed up to the tallest curve of the bridge and sat there overlooking the mountains, the train station, and the people riding their bikes right underneath us while the sun went down. As I sat there, I reflected on my semester abroad, and I all I felt was happiness and a sense of fulfillment. Freiburg, I love you.