How Far I’ve Come

Once more it’s been rather quiet on my blog. Right now I have still seven weeks left here in Colombia, so I am not at the point where I do an overall review and recap of my year. The credits are not rolling just yet, because who knows if I get the predictable happy ending or a plot twist of some kind. If my stay was a book, however, I feel like writing my acknowledgements right now. But those are not just any acknowledgements. These go out to a very important person in this journey: myself.

Your first instinct might be to say that I am rather self-centred, ignorant or arrogant for naming me the most important part of this experience. Come to think of it, that was my first instinct when I planned this post. Nevertheless, this is my work, my journey, my dedication, so why not claim my achievements? Bearing in mind that an experience is never shaped by just one individual and there would be a huge list of people I would need to name and give thanks to, this one is about me.

This morning I looked in the mirror and thought about how far I’ve come. In less than two months my loved ones at home will see how much I have (or haven’t) changed – according to them. Even if they said I am exactly the same person who left Germany last summer, I know this not to be true. I can look back on situations that have challenged me in ways that I had not experienced before. I had to face more than just my fear of motorcycles during my time in Cali. The first weeks you could have paid me to get on the back of a bike, I would have refused. Now I sit pretty much relaxed behind my friend, my hands making little waves through the wind that is brushing around our silhouettes. Another example of overcoming situations that seemed difficult at first is standing in front of a group you have never taught before and having to improvise a class. The times I got told to “do something” with groups that most of the time were new to me are countless. As a rather introverted person, just the thought of an improvised class let my hands sweat. 10 months onward, it surely makes me sigh internally because I know that this hour will most likely not have any lasting effect on the kids’ English. But now even if I have no idea what to do with them, I just get on with it and try to keep them busy.

On top of growing confidence in a number of situations, I am proud. I am proud of myself for putting the effort into my projects that I have. If I could I would go back in time and high-five December-2017-me for setting aside a couple of hours to talk to this girl you didn’t know then but who got recommended by your boss. At the time you had had doubts whether your own free time was badly invested in a personal interview on the benches of a bakery next to the main road. Now I know that this girl, Ana,  has turned out to be the most committed and reliable student and (to me) the perfect candidate for a stay in Germany. I am proud of doing the application process with her; of making that little bit of extra time to do a German class that fit her level; of coming up with new ideas to collect funds as I was lagging behind at the beginning of the year; of sitting at my laptop late at night planning trips to embassies with my colleagues and in general proud of trying to pave the way for her year in Germany.

The probably most important thing I have learned during my stay here so far is being true to myself. I now see more clearly when something gets on my nerves, and whilst before I tried to avoid most conflicts, I will now most certainly open my mouth when my patience snaps. I have got to terms with me being more introverted than extroverted, and if I don’t feel like going to a packed Colombian club on a Friday night that’s fine. It’s not bad if I feel that way, and as long as I am content with what I am doing and who I have in my life (here),  then there is no need to justify my actions. Chances are, there is someone out there (like my new flatmate who also seems to be an old lady trapped in a girl’s body) who enjoys just chatting on the roof and going to bed at 11pm. I feel a lot more comfortable with myself, even though it’s still not 100% of the time. But I know that I can do so much when I put my mind to it. I know I can juggle a lot and motivate others, and myself, and quite frankly, I did well.

[Für die deutsche Version dieses Posts hat die Zeit leider gerade nicht gereicht, da wir in den Vorbereitungen für die Visa unserer Schüler stecken. Ich hoffe, dass ich bald die Zeit finde, um das hier nachzutragen. Ansonsten kann vielleicht auch Google Translate vorerst helfen!]

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