After having been away from Florida, in a non-tropical environment for the first time in my life has made me appreciate many things I once took for granted. It truly is a privilege and joy to feel the warmth of the sun almost every day and go for a swim on the first day of winter. My sense of family and community is only amplified during the holiday season. As I get ready to go abroad once again I count my blessings and prepare to spend some time away from my nest.
Being away from one’s own culture is always an exploration of self identity and belonging. In a new environment one is once again primed and shaped by the varying structures and norms of a society. Even the minutiae of every day life consolidate into different attitudes and appreciations of the surrounding world. Before leaving somewhere for an extended period of time, everything gets washed over with a sense of nostalgia and warm appreciation. I’ve found myself appreciating the convenience of American excess rather than accepting it as an ordinary way of life. Twenty four hour convenience stores look like an oasis, two dollar chicken boxes at Checkers become so much more appealing (both in flavor and value), free refills and public restrooms feel like a privilege. Without the prospect of leaving, these would only small details of quotidian American life.
In the future, if I were to establish myself in Germany, I would be in a similar position to the one my parents were in thirty years ago. As a first generation American, I was part of my parent’s process of establishing themselves in a completely foreign lifestyle. Naturally, their values and perception of life gradually shifted and adapted to fit the needs of their new environment. And now with the opportunity to establish myself abroad, I consider what things would shape me and the people around me. Although I only have a short year left in the DDP, I know my world perspective will invariably change. And with that I hope I can further improve my appreciation of whatever world I’ll find myself in tomorrow.