Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Coming back

It has been about two months now since I returned to Austria and even if I suspected it to be hard, it kind of surprised me how strange I sometimes feel being back. For example when I first arrived at my flat in Graz, while I enjoyed sleeping in my own bed again it felt so odd to actually stay there and live there. It took me some days to feel content living in Graz again.

And then there was this moment when I was walking home from a friend who invited me at her flat for having dinner, drinking cocktails and playing games. It was a great night and I walked home late, like I did many times before going to Colombia, normally without a second thought because Graz is really safe, nothing ever happens here. But just after more or less 3 minutes my mind was on high alert because oh my god I am walking outside in a city at night, that's dangerous! I started nervously searching for my phone and unlocking it, just in case something happened I could immediately call somebody. I only relaxed a bit after observing the other people on the street walking along carelessly as if nothing bad could ever happen in this world - like I always did before as well.

The hardest part is just getting back into my life I had before I went to Colombia. The truth is, I just.. can't do it. I gained some new perspectives on life and I refuse to continue my life as if nothing changed. And it's really challenging to find out what to adapt so I am content with my life again.

Don't get me wrong, I am content being here in Austria again, but only as long as I can do what I choose to do, which is normally not what I am supposed to do.  Like some weeks ago, I went on holiday with two friends in the "Salzkammergut", a part of Upper Austria with lots of mountains and lakes and stunning views and it was so great just to enjoy living in such a beautiful country. But then there are those obligations like writing my master thesis - which means contacting people I didn't really want to contact before going abroad and therefore continuing the life I kind of paused when I went abroad.

I know I have to make some changes but I have no idea where to start and what would make me happy while still offering me the opportunity to lead an independent life, therefore with enough income to finance my expenses. And because I am quite out of plans, I kind of continue with the original plan to finish my master thesis and my studies and look for a job but I am definitely not committed to that goal. Maybe finding a job will help me get some direction into my life again. It's like before I just lived to go abroad someday and now that I reached that goal I don't know where to go now.

When I came back, I didn't even remember most of the stuff I own because I mentally left them in the part of my life that I considered to be over. Unfortunately it was not over at all and at some point I had to look for various things I needed again, like my savings book or my certificates - I did really well in hiding them from myself. And then there was SO MUCH stuff. I didn't remember for example that I had that many clothes. And bags. And shoes. I mean, seriously, who needs all that clothing? For half a year, my at the utmost ten shirts and five pants were enough. And now I have probably five times that amount - and I already sorted out the things I really don't need.

And my mind always divides in "before" and "after". I guess the experience was kind of disruptive. And, basically I am the same for sure, but it really annoys me when people automatically assume that I am doing everything just the same as I did before. That's exactly how you fall back in old patterns. Because I really don't want to discuss every small thing I changed about my habits. Yes, now I do like to take pictures of stuff to send it to my friends abroad. Yes, it might be strange for those who are opposed to that lifestyle, like I was before, but it just makes sense for me now. No, I don't want to go to concerts, I'd rather save my money for traveling. No, I really can't stand people complaining about the public transport in Austria. Our public transport is perfectly fine, and probably better than 90 % of public transport all over the world. If you don't believe me, try it somewhere else. No, I don't want to tell you "if you don't like Austria, just leave", I just think your complaining doesn't make any sense and is blocking your way to happiness. And by listening to you, it's blocking mine as well and no, I won't accept that.

Austrians are such strange people. Always thinking that somebody else hid their key to happiness. And never realizing that happiness is in the simple things. Like the person you love, friends, family, living in the country you love, pursuing personal goals, making other people smile. Just realize it, a better working public transport (however that might look like) will never make you happy, it might only take away a topic to complain about, which will be quickly replaced by another. It's your attitude that's the problem. And no, by saying the public transport in Colombia is worse than in Austria, I do not mean I didn't like it in Colombia, I really loved it there - because in the big picture such stuff just doesn't matter.

For example, I totally miss the friendly people everywhere just talking to you on the street or in a shop or anywhere, having a short chat and then going on with your life. It makes your day a little brighter and doesn't take much of your precious time. But people here don't seem to appreciate it even if you try. And then there's the problem that I really want to go out and find me some kind of adventure, but I have to sit at home and write my thesis - that's really really boring. But then, money does not grow on trees and I really need to finish my studies. Furthermore I want to go traveling again and to do so I need to continue following my plans. It's just so.. boring. Maybe I am just not used to such a monotonous life anymore.

Despite all that, I am more content with my life than I have ever been (besides my time in Colombia) and I am not really thinking about going back, and the reason may be that it was just never really a possibility because I always knew that now, without the other exchange students, it won't be the same. I learned to appreciate what I have, like my friends and family, my bed, the food, even clothes I didn't remember when I came back. I try to smile at people that are somehow crossing my path, like the cashier at a shop or the bus driver or just somebody I talk to for some reason. I try to get out on sunny days and do sports because it feels great being able to reach something without much of an effort.

Now I just, somehow, miraculously, need to get up and actually do my stuff so I can continue with my life. However I am going to do that... My brother had a good way of overcoming his "afterwards-restlessness" by finding himself a girl to marry, which gave him a new goal in life and put several things into a new perspective. Unfortunately that won't work for me because I am not the marry-a-year-after-meeting kind of girl. Any tips for getting on with my life?  How to implement some action into my boring should-be routine? Maybe I need a new target in life. But what could that be? I am out of plans, and that doesn't happen very often. Actually it generally doesn't happen at all. So where do I start? Or maybe I just continue making collages of my photos from abroad and talking to my friends from abroad and remembering the moments abroad and thinking about how beautiful this life is. Well, it really is. As long as nobody asks me what I have accomplished recently.

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