Everything is beginning to come together. Letters from the Bavarian schools minister (for me! for me!) drop onto our doorstep and clutter my inbox. I know the names of the two high schools I will work in, and the exact distance in kilometres (oh yes, I am becoming a true European already!) between the two. I hope to live somewhere in between, with other young people, near the Danube. I have looked forward to this for so long. In my first year I would lie in bed and look at my ceiling punctuated with plastic stars and think how exciting it was that, in not too long, I would be stargazing in another country. 'I'm excited already!' I would exclaim to those who enquired about mein Jahr ins Ausland. In second year this bordering-on-lunacy excitement was replaced with the mundane, everyday bureaucracy of actually upping and moving to another country; deciding where and when and how and what exactly it was you planned to spend twelve months doing. Then the references and the endless forms on crisp white paper, the mad dash to the only photobooth in the vicinity to procure a passport photograph for our applications, the weekly meetings in dusty offices in the Victorian villa I love. But now, the to-do list shrinks daily, things fall into place, and the excitement is returning to me. The thought of walking through the narrow streets of the city in the snow, of bicycling to school, of partaking in the quintessentially German tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen as often as possible (and using this as a bribe to make old friends visit me), of swimming in the lake, of visiting the places I used to as a child, of wandering through Galeria Kaufhof for hours, of making new German-speaking friends and of submerging myself fully in another culture I adore....it makes me happy just to think about. Ich freue mich darauf.
P.s. For those out of the loop, I am spending my mandatory year abroad in a Bavarian city teaching English to high schoolers. Juhu!