But for a good reason. The year is nearly over. I’ve been here in Germany over 9 months already, seen many things, and met many wonderful people. That is the part that gets me most. The people here are wonderful. I’m going to miss them most. Justin, the second person I met here, is going home in 1 week, and soon after more people will go. At the end of July nearly all the friends I made this year will go to their homes in their home countries, and we will only have the memories of what happened to keep us company. Some people had already gone home after the first semester; we still miss and talk about them.
Some of the people I’ve met here are the dearest people I’ve ever met. Everyone has such a unique personality. Take for instance Gosia. Gosia is one of the most likeable people you can ever meet. She is a beautiful girl from Olsztyn, Poland that is always having a good time. You never see Gosia without a smile. She will dance until the sun comes up and continue if you can still stand. Besides being a fantastic cook she is an architect and a very good one at that. I see many good things from her and know that she will succeed at anything to which she puts her heart. Which is a very big one.
Someone else I have got to know is Elena, a beautiful girl from Valencia, with whom I enjoy every minute we spend together. She and I can laugh about many things one of those being that we live with Germans. She is one of the few people here to have found love. It Last semester she met a guy named Marcos from Argentina and plans to go see him and try and make a life. This is a big decision for her. I am very happy that she has found some one with whom she can share her life. Those of us with the fortune to know her are very lucky to have Elena here with us. Many times we have knocked on her door when she was in her pajamas and within just a few minutes she was ready to go out. She has a great spirit and enjoys life very much. A friend as good as Elena is very hard to come by, and I am so happy to have met her and spent the time we did. I wish you all the luck in the world Elena! Eres maravillosa. Besos. Perdoname.
Another great person is César. César is from Madrid, Spain. He and his friends the Pablos, Luis, Iloylan and Christiano always made me feel at home. He and I did what we call a tandem which is when we share time together speaking each others native language. Because of these guys I was able to practice Spanish in real life conversations. Usually we did this over lunch (sometimes Spanish lunch means 4PM). We would eat at the local cafeteria or in a kitchen from these guys. Even though it was my job to speak to these guys in English I think I always got the better end of the deal and we usually spend more than 50% of the time speaking Spanish.
Someone else that I always enjoyed hanging out with was PieterJan. PieterJan comes from Brussels, Belgium and is genuinely one of the most liberal people I’ve ever met. He is also one of the most entertaining. You will always have a good time hanging out with PieterJan, sometimes called PJ. PJ was kind enough to show a group of us Americans around Belgium for a couple days. He let us stay in his house and fed us well, Belgium style – something of a treat being as we had been in Germany for so long.
And who could forget Sarah Wendlandt. Sarah was our only Australian. She has a great accent although won’t admit it. Sarah is also the youngest person in our group only turning 20 last month. Sarah was a great person to party with and was always a little more friendly when she was drinking. I am not sure where she is going in life, but I am sure she will have a great time doing it.
Then their is Kaziu, also known as Cashew. He was also one of the first people I met upon arriving. He’s a funny guy and can liven up any party. I remember times when he’d have to work so hard we wouldn’t see him for weeks it seemed. But then he’d be right back in the thick of things. We teased Kasiu a lot for that among other things. He took it well and even gave it back on occasion. I look forward to seeing him before I leave to travel in August.
A group of people I really liked and was lucky enough to travel with were Tomas , Aileen, Javier, and Poncho. We and 2 more went to Portugal together for a week before Christmas. It was quite a pleasure every moment with these guys. Poncho, Javier and Tomas are from Santiago, Chile, and Aileen is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Chilean guys are a hoot. They both spoke English very well, but you would never know it. I always wanted to talk to these guys in Spanish. But the only thing is they don’t speak Spanish. Chilean is a dialect of Spanish that has been corrupted by the years; it is a cross between muttering and mumbling with a few curse words thrown in. I really enjoyed trying to figure out what they were saying, but of course I never did. I look forward to getting down to Chile and seeing them in a few years. Aileen was a great girl too and quite pretty. I got to know her best through Vanesa, but she and I had several great excursions together and she was always a pleasant person to be with.
Someone else I’m going to miss is Pascal. Pascal is one of my German roommates and has been here since basically the beginning. He rides a motorcycle too making him that much cooler. It that wasn’t enough he also flies glider planes on the weekends. He and I share an intimate hatred for our ex-roommate Christian. One of the happier days of this year was when Chiristian had to move out. That was actually my birthday, and Pascal and I partied till real late in the morning. Of course so did all the other guests. They didn’t know the real reason for celebrating.;) Pascal speaks English very well and hopes one day to spend a year in the U.S. working or studying. I wish him lots of luck.
Then there is Steve Dragan. Yep, that’s his real name. Steve is quite a character, and one of the best laughs I’ve ever had was at his expense. Jessica and I paid him to eat sand in Lagos, Portugal which he did. If that wasn’t enough he then had to use ocean water to wash his mouth out. I still laugh thinking about it. Steve is also quite a wrestler. He’s the only guy my size in my life to give me a good match. Steve is always smiling and has a great desire to travel. He is the kind of guy that you will never see down. Born in Dallas he now lives in St. Louis and will be married soon after returning. His attitude alone with take him far.
Speaking of Jessica: there is a lot I can say about her. I like Jessica a lot. She is quite a nice person and even shares many political beliefs I have. After a quasi-rocky start we grew to be friends that can discuss anything. I didn’t even meet her until late in the first semester, but soon after we were traveling partners. She was one that went to Belgium with us and then she convinced Steve, Alison, and I to go to Spain and Portugal with her. It took very little convincing. Recently I have spent more time with Jessica making rootbeer floats or going to the pool. Also from St. Louis she is a big city girl and looks forward to going home to see her family and especially her grandfather. She is a friend I imagine to have my whole life.
Speaking of traveling I have to mention Anais. Anais is my favorite Venezuelan girl. She decided to join Kuba and I on a last moment invite trip to Berlin. I was very glad she joined us. A very pretty girl that speaks great English we had a wonderful time while Kuba sailed in his competition. We toured all over Berlin and got to know each other. This was my first non university sanctioned trip, and I won’t forget it. Lately Anais and I have gone to the same dinner parties. I always look forward to spending time with her.
This brings up Matt Devrie. Why you may ask? I met Matt on my first trip out of Stuttgart. The university sponsored a small group to go to Prague for a grand total of 50 Euros. That fee paid for room, travel, and some food. Matt and I got to know each other pretty well while there and were friends from that point on. Matt has a brilliant mind (in his own mind 😉 ) and will go far. He attends Rose-Hulman in Indiana and will take the education he gets there and run with it. He was my first football throwing buddy, and when we saw each other it was always good times.
Where would I be without Carlos? Carlos is a great guy from Valencia, Spain. He, Kasia, Gosia, and Gonzalo invited me to join them in Amsterdam which I gladly accepted. Carlos has taught me a lot of Spanish, and I hope I have helped him with English too. A very generous person, Carlos is part of one of my tightest groups of friends. He is another I will consider a lifelong friend. When he is not working Carlos can party till the sun comes up and still wants more. He likes to dress up nice and look good for the ladies. Of which he had a very pretty girl I hope he spends a long time with.
Kasia was just mentioned. There is no way I could talk about anyone without talking about her. Kasia is also from Poland , Poznan to be exact. She is a social butterfly if you’ve ever met one. I think Kasia has more friends than a person who as recently won the lottery. She is always doing something exciting. She is best friends with Gosia, a perfect match. Just the other day on a whim they grabbed a pair of scissors and cut Emmet’s hair. Kasia is interesting in many ways. She speaks 5 languages, yep 5: Polish, English, German, Russian, and Chinese. Of course I’ll have to take her word on the last two. She is another Polish girl that really knows how to cook. I think there is something in the water there; I haven’t met a Polish girl yet that was a bad cook. Anytime she invites me for dinner I’m already on my way. Kasia and I have traveled together too. Amsterdam was our second trip, Lichtenstein and Switzerland was the first. I think she has infinite energy. Kasia will go a long way with her many friends. I look forward to seeing her after this year.
I mentioned Emmet just now. Emmet is our resident Irish guy, and he fits th bill too. He does like his beer. This guy can liven up a room and probably without realizing can hold the attention of anyone. He’s got a great character. He went with us to Cologne for Carnival. Actually it was his idea. Let’s just say he and I saw some crazy things there. Emmet is an architect and spends a lot of time with Gosia and Jessica, lucky guy. I’m not sure what he wants to do when he grows up, or if he even wants to grow up. But he’ll have fun doing it.
This reminds me to mention a couple other people, Eric and James. These two guys are quite a pair. Well, not pair exactly, but they are in the same fraternity of the same university. Two more different people they could not be. James outgoing and funny, Eric a little more introverted with his own wit. Both are great drinking buddies and traveling companions. They are very lucky to have each other. Next year will probably go easiest for them having someone each day to talk without about the great times and experiences they had. I’m just a little jealous of that.
Someone else that inspired me was Juliana from Brazil. Juliana came to Germany without speaking a word of English, German, or even Spanish. Portuguese was her only form of communication, and there are only a hand full of people that speak Portuguese here. I think she made friends with them quick. We met her first day here and got to spend the whole day together. I understood about one tenth of what she said when we met, but both of our Spanish and German has grown, and now we can understand each other pretty well. She is a fun person to be around and quite brave if you ask me.
I have to talk about Justin and Gerald too. These guys are a fun bunch. The two of them do like to party. I’ve got lots of good memories drinking with these guys, pulling Gerald out of a tree and Justin quitting smoking and or drinking 4 or sometimes more times per week. I suspect one day he will successfully quit both. Gerald probably has the most stories out of all of us. He came for a good time and he sure found it. I think Justin also found what he was looking for here. I’m not sure what it was though. Since he’s leaving in one week I, and is the first to go, I wish Justin lots of luck. May he find good influences in his life to follow.
There are several more people that made a big impact on me. These people really shaped my time here. Without them my experience in Germany would have been much different and probably not nearly as wonderful.
Johannes was the first person I met in Germany. He was assigned to be my “buddy” and meet me at the airport and show me around the first couple days. He did far more than his job. Out of all the buddies as they are called, he is the only one that still hanging out with his exchange students. He even adopted a few more who lost theirs early on. Johannes is the most generous person I’ve met this year always wanting to contribute and take part. He treats everyone like his best friend and is as sincere a person you will ever meet. His humor sneaks up on you though; you have to watch him carefully. One would be very lucky to have him as a friend. Johannes is going to do a year in Portland, Oregon next year, and I cannot wait until he comes down to Texas so I can show him around. He is someone I will never forget and look forward to every time we see each other.
Another person I will never forget is Vanesa from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Vanesa had me won from day one. She could have told me to jump, and I would wait in the air until she told me to come down. Her smile alone would warm any heart. You can feel her presence when she enters a room, and you want to follow her when she leaves. Vanesa studies wind energy, such a cool subject. She will have lots of luck with anything she does. She is one of the hardest workers I have ever met. She can spend 9 hours at the job and come home to study even more. Vanesa will succeed, and I am sure her life will be filled with happiness.
These last five people are more than good friends and have contributed something really special to my experience in Germany.
Thomas Waltz is quite a guy. Coming from a conservative family in Michigan he turned 20 here and learned to drink. I’ve talked a little about him on this blog before. Thomas is a person that is always right and yet sometimes wrong. He brought a sense of humor with him from his friends and kinda hoped we would all catch on. I’ve picked up a little but there is a long way to go. Thomas has big wishes and bigger dreams. His list of goals in life is a long one and complex. If there is anyone in life that will complete their personal goal list it is me, but Thomas is next :D. He is a hard worker to a fault and more punctual than a German. His work ethics will take him far and he is going to be very successful. I wish Thomas the best in whatever he does. May he reflect on his year in Germany as the best year he’s ever had and remember the friends that he made for ever.
Tania Kiefer showed me a lot of things. One thing she showed me was that Germans can cook. She learned Spanish in Mexico and picked up a taste for spicy things and tequila. That alone attracted me to her immensely. She has the same desire to travel that I do and has had a lot of luck doing so. Tania teaches English, Spanish, and German, and I imagine she is a very good teacher. She certainly taught me some things. We dated for several months until I pulled some silly stunts and upset the flow. I still don’t know why I did that. Even afterward she accompanied me on a motorcycle trip to England. Tania plans to continue teaching but one day move to Spain. She will never give up traveling and will probably spend a good part of her life in a Spanish speaking country. Tania, I hope you find the good time you are looking for.
And Wasim. Wasim and I have not spent much time together outside of class, just a few times, but we did spend a lot of time working together. He and I were and still are lab partners in what may be the most interesting and learning experience of my life. The class itself was excellent, and Wasim helped me through. Together we gave presentations to large groups of people from all over the world and performed experiments neither of us had experience with before. Then we had to write the reports. And I do mean reports. From 30 to 50 pages these reports could be, and we had to turn them in every week. There is a lot of trust between us that can only occur when two people count on each other as much as we do. I want to mention that Wasim is from Palestine. I do so because he is a great friend and we have broken many barriers together. I am lucky to have him as a laboratory partner and couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with. Wasim, you speak English very well and do excellent work. Good luck to you. I hope we can meet again. You are always welcome in Texas.
The last two people have already gone home, but they made such a big impression on me I will always consider them a part of my life.
Kuba Pawluk is a kindred soul. This man has more energy than an atomic bomb and sometimes reminds you of one. Kuba inspired me to meet a lot of people and see Poland where my ancestors are from. He invited me to spend Christmas with his family even after the death of his father. His family took me in like one of their own. His mother and grandmother are such wonderful women and of course great cooks. I met his grandfather and two sisters too. He is remarkable in so many ways; I think there is nothing Kuba cannot do when he wants to. I’ve seen him do things that are reserved for super heroes and still he looks for more. Taking after his father Kuba is a sailor at heart. I hope to one day sail far with him. He is one person that without a doubt will get the most of life. We could all learn from Kuba.
There is one more person I want to talk about. His name is Gonzalo Ramirez Troxler. His grandfather was Swiss, his mother born in the USA, and he’s 100% Chilean. Gonzalo is like a brother to me. From the first minute I met him I knew he would be a good friend. I still remember well how he sat down with a bunch of perfect strangers and made everyone happy to meet him. There are certain types of people in the world like Gonzalo that you meet very seldom. I am lucky to have done so. He has a true feeling for people that is rare and more friends than he is willing to admit. I wish he could have stayed here longer. He has to finish school and be with his family. I understand, but I still miss him. We remain in contact and will for ever. The first thing I will do when the opportunity and possibility arise is go to Chile. There is no doubt in my mind that we will see each other again. Good luck Gonzalo.
A song by Bob Dylan pretty much describes what I will have left of my friends soon. I will have memories and photos and of course email addresses. I can only hope to meet them all again in their respective homes or in mine, but as the song says, we’ll never all be together at the same time. I would give $10,000 at the drop of a hat if it could be like that.
While riding on a train goin’ west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.
With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I had spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn.
By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin’ and were quite satisfied
Jokin’ and talkin’ about the world outside.
With hungry hearts through the heat and cold,
We never much thought we could get very old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
And our chances really was a million to one.
As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices they was few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter or split.
How many a year has passed and gone,
Many a gamble has been lost and won,
And many a road taken by many a first friend,
And each one I’ve never seen again.
I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
That we could sit simply in that room again.
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that. – Bob Dylan
Good bye friends.