Germany-Year Recap

Rindi from Albania, Winter Semester 2023/2024

While it is true that a year in the lifetime of a person isn’t that much… it is also true that not every year is the same or holds the same weight. So, what was so special about this year. The length is the same, the days lasted the same number of hours, all the 4 seasons came and went, and the sun rose and set at the end as it has always done…so what makes it special? What makes this year special is the fact that a lifetime of experiences got jammed into it.

Where to even start without falling victim to the expected cliches of an exchange student abroad. Well abandoning behind the same routine you’ve had all your life is truly challenging. And even though you try to romanticize it, it is just simply pure hard struggle. But I cannot complain and that’s a major takeaway I have obtained from this experience. At a certain point in one’s life a person must challenge itself to improve, and this is what I set myself up to do.

Going to a country that is as similar and as different to yours as it can possibly be, is quite the challenge. And I welcomed it from the beginning. Many highs and lows came throughout this year, and I have surfed and stayed on course the best I could. My first 6 months in Bielefeld were amazing and unique in their own right and as importantly, my last 6 months in Remagen were as colorful and as exhilarating as they possibly could have been.

From the beginning I was welcomed and embraced by the Sprachen Internationales Team at RheinAhrCampus and also from the beginning I was put in motion to integrate in the cog of their mechanism. And I thrived with that because they offered me just what I had come for…a challenge.

As in every other experience in life, it all comes with highs and lows and throughout my stay for every low there were double the highs. Being a student and part of this program here enabled me to explore every possible corner of the country I could. From the incredible traditional vastness of the south in cities like Munich to the incredible costal scenery of the north in the city of Hamburg, from the diverse cultural richness of the North Rhine-Westphalia which included amazing cities such as Dusseldorf, Bonn and Cologne to the lively hustle and bustle of economic hubs such as Frankfurt.

But this country offers as much vastness and places to explore in its urban centers as well as in its broad natural landscape. I got the chance to explore regions such as the Teutoburg Forest, Externsteine, the incredible rivers of Rhine, Moselle, and Havel aswell as the vast wine fields in the Rhineland-Palantinate region and many many more. I have to mention that the highlight of my travels was visiting Berlin for my 25th birthday which weirdly enough was something I had visualized internally even before deciding to try this exchange experience. Getting to spend my birthday in the middle of the cosmopolitan, abstract and energetic world of Berlin was a very surreal experience which will prove hard to forget.

The thing I feel most grateful for is the plethora of people and their diverse worlds that I got to experience here, while being a student in this amazing environment that RAC provided us. The many cultures and unique baggages that came with such diversity of people in the same space at the same time was overwhelmingly suprising and rewarding. Getting to understand the differences and most importantly the many similarities that a lot of cultures share was an honest and eye-opening experience.

I am grateful to the staff from my home university at UAMD and to the staff at RAC for enabling me with a one in a lifetime experience which I will truly cherish for life and most importantly for allowing me to push even further the internal borders of what I previously thought was possible of achieving.

In the words of Seneca: “While we wait for life, life passes”.

Don’t wait!