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looking back at exchange

Posted by on March 27, 2010

i’ve been away from home for almost 8 months. i got to see loads of different cultures, cities, people, food, and so on, and i was able to make experiences i wouldn’t give back for the world.

it wasn’t the first time i lived out of germany but this time was different. not was i going abroad all by myself but also i would fly to the other side of the world, leaving europe behind me for the first time i’m aware of it.
when i was told i could go to singapore, my first reaction was to go online to google where it was. the next thing was a presentation i had to give in my english class about singaporean culture and life without having been there just based on internet research. looking back my presentation was absolutely ridiculous, i cannot help but smile at my slides because everything i talked about was only skin deep and i really had no idea what i was talking about. =D
when i arrived in singapore i first thought i had come to asia but further travel trips to malaysia, indonesia and hong kong would proove me wrong. for a westerner singapore might seem very asian at the first sight if you’ve never been to asia before but i haven’t come across any other so westernized city in south east asia.
3 days after i arrived in singapore i wrote in my diary:
“i feel like i have come home. like i have been searching for this place my whole life without knowing it and now i finally arrived.”
singapore’s magic caught me straight away and until today i wasn’t able to escape (although i must admit that i honestly don’t want to…).
singapore gave me everything i need in life. the sun is shining, the ocean is just a few minutes away and so is paradise in terms of islands or countries like bali, boracay, rawa, … the list seems endless. i got to know a completely different way of working atmosphere during my internship and a culture that couldn’t be more different to mine (i’m talking about Chinese culture since most of my friends are Singaporean-Chinese).
most importantly i found awesome and very special friends during my both stays in singapore and i cannot and don’t want to imagine my life without a few of these people any more. a big credit to deep blue scuba at this point ๐Ÿ™‚
also i finally found an activity that i enjoy 100% (you must know i’ve been searching for something like this my whole life coz i never was able to stick to a sport or doing sport at all..^^) and it’s nothing less than diving in the open water, sucking air from an enormous tank and swimming face to face with turtles, fishes, sharks and whatever all their names are ๐Ÿ˜‰ i’ve never been to a more quiet and colourful world before, everything seems to stop while you’re underwater, all your sorrows are gone and u can just enjoy the moment. i’m now looking for a dive center nearby where i live so i don’t have to give it up even though it won’t beat diving south east asian sea…..
london left a very different expression. i enjoyed my time there a lot, especially since i was spending all my time with awesome people from all over the world – if i wasn’t sick for once. 
i have never been much of a party girl but those few weeks in london were legendary. they were so legendary that i still don’t really feel like drinking any more alcohol….^^
studying at cass made me appreciate my home university frankfurt school of finance and management a lot more than before exchange although cass’ support for exchange students was exceptionally good.
the study level is a lot below that of my uni and students don’t really have to think themselves a lot. i even had one lecturer who got corrected by a student from my uni several times during lectures and he was surprised u could solve a problem in the way the student showed him…. well… no more comment!
again i found a few great friends i hope i will see in future again even though there are a few or a lot more borders in between us. one trip to holland is already being planned for late spring i guess.. looking forward to that!
my term in london was my only time as a student i ever experienced as a full time student and i must say it’s absolutely not my cup of tea. i was bored and underchallenged most of the time and am glad i’m now back to working part-time besides studying even though i feel like a burned out workaholic when i get home friday night…^^
whereas in singapore i got to know and love a whole country with all its characteristics, london was the best example on how and where i do not want to live. the parts of english culture i got to see didn’t make me want to look further underneath the surface so i limited my experiences in london to the full-time-student-life in the circle of a multicultural group.
regarding my life home while i wasn’t there i didn’t miss a thing apart from being able to stop by my family’s or best friends’ places whenever i felt like it and trust me it is very hard when one of ur friends is breaking up or getting very sick and u cannot really be there for him/her like you want to. 
i finally cut the last strings that held me back home even though i had to go back living at home now until i graduate. the progress loads of people make when starting their studies and moving out of home and into a new town all by themselves i did now while i was hundreds and thousands of miles away from home. 
i feel a lot more self confident than before and i dare doing some things now straight away without needing to ask someone else for guidance.
i realized that even though i like being around people and especially good friends i always and every day need some time on my own to reload my batteries. i need this freedom for myself, it keeps me going and gives me all the strenght i need.
i would always do it just the same, i don’t regret a single thing i did or did not during those 8 months, they are a big part of me now and right now i can say without regrets that those 8 months were the best times of my 22 years long life.
i fell in love with a country, a culture and the people but most importantly i fell in love with my life again. i enjoy every single second of it and try to make the best out of it every day.
i try to see something positive in everything that happens to me and i’m looking into future optimistically.
while being gone for such a long time i found out who my real friends are, who truly cares about me and who enriches my life every day even though i don’t necessary see him/her. this is very precious and i handle those relationships with care whereas i’m done with running after people who obviously don’t seem to care and i’m going to stick with that.
thank you to all those people who made those 8 months as special and unforgettable as they were and are!!!

now that exchange is over and i’m back “home” and to my old life i thought about quitting this blog but since i like blogging so much and my travel plans to conquer the world are definitely not over with exchange but have only just begun i will continue with updates here and then although not as frequently as before. i will send out a newsletter when i post something new, you can easily subscribe on the right bar if u like.


4 Responses to looking back at exchange

  1. KellyNg

    I think many Singaporeans take Singapore for granted and don't appreciate it like u do. I'm so glad to hear how much u love this place! It was really cool having u here. Come back soon and don't stop blogging! This is great!

  2. Julia

    thx Kelly! was also great getting to know u and we still gotta go mambo night at zouk someday! will be back as soon as possible ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Jackson

    just saw this entry. absolutely fantastic =D
    feels exactly the same thing when I was at Shanghai for a year, fell in love with that place, anyway, good luck conquering the way =)
    if you are looking at diving some place in asia, let us know, we gib you good good price muahahaha

  4. Julia

    hey Jackson, thx!
    ya, being abroad changes u a lot ๐Ÿ™‚
    and of coz i'll get back to you for diving asia lah! hahaha
    see ya!

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