We had to leave for the airport to go home at 5 am. I woke up at 4:55 am. Thankfully, I had been very detailed in my planning and had everything ready to go, so I just had to throw on clothes, grab my things, and run out in my bear feet! It was cold.
After a fairly long road trip (maybe an hour and a half), we got to the train station and rushed in with our bags. By the time we were on the platform, the train was still not in sight. We said goodbye to the missionary and talked for a bit, then I boarded my very first train ride. I think most of the group fell asleep, but I couldn’t. It was too exciting to be on a train and see German scenery flying by. We stopped four or five times, but not many people got on. Here is a picture I took, looking out of the train at sunrise. (Random side note: I was listening to a podcast called 99% Invisible for part of the train ride, then switched to an audiobook by Ann Coulter.)
When we got to the airport, we went to a McDonalds for breakfast. This is a conversation I had while buying my breakfast.
Me: I would like an Egg McMuffin.
Me: OH! And a hashbrown.
Cashier: No hashbrown in germany.
You will never understand how depressing those four words were. So, I ate my Egg McMuffin and drank my bottled water, then we went on a million escalators up, over to another side of the airport on some kind of tram thing, then went down a million escalators. Just as I was getting used to jumping off the escalator at just the right moment, we went through security. They asked us questions and looked through our luggage and things, then we went to the almost last ticket check. When I came up to the lady who was doing the final passport check, I said “Hallo, guten Morgen,” and after looking down at my passport and seeing that it was clearly one from the US, she complimented me on my German accent, and I was so proud of myself.
We waited for around thirty minutes to board the plane, and two in our group who had not given devotionals yet took the opportunity there. A short time after getting on the plane, I noticed a young woman near me who seemed to be distraught over something. I felt like I should do something; I couldn’t just let her sit there and not say something to make sure she was okay. So after a few minutes of agonizing over a decision, I wrote a note that simply said, “are you ok?” This began a little conversation of notes that went on and off until we landed in the US. I am really glad I said something. Sometimes people are nasty, and sometimes the response you get won’t be all rainbows and flowers; sometimes hurting people are bitter towards the whole world. But it never hurts just to ask, and often, it ends up meaning a lot.
The meals on the way back were much better than the meals on the way there, so that was nice. When we landed and walked out into the airport, I was overjoyed to be on American soil again. As much as I missed Germany (and would have stayed there a few more months if possible,) I was sort of glad to be home.
I was surprised by a lot in Germany. I was surprised by how much – and how little – it was different. But mostly, I think I was just surprised by how little changed about me after going to a foreign country. I think we feel that when we leave the country and hear other languages and see a different culture, it will change our foundations of thought and our heart will never be the same. But I’m still me. I still have all the same religious and political beliefs; I still feel much the same about everything. I’ve discovered that the rest of the world isn’t much different.
Someday, I would like to go again. But even if I can’t go in the next few years, I’ll always have that desire to go and see other places and ways of life and hear other languages. Maybe someday, I will see my friends in Germany again.