I spent my 19th birthday writing a public law exam and then going to the cinema to see New Moon with my flatmate. This weekend I spent my 20th birthday watching Eclipse in a Munich hotel room with my mum (Lorna is clearly where the party is at). The time between these two happy days seems to have passed far too quickly, especially the last few months I’ve spent here. Turning 20 was a little scary, but like far too many other exchange students I have the (most likely pretty annoying) attitude that after moving to another country by myself I can probably handle most things, including the fact I’m not a teenager anymore.
Although I’m doubting my language skills again after I attempted to teach my mum how to say ‘excuse me’ in German and she heard not ‘Entschuldigung’ but ‘Entschuldi-ghoul’, it was lovely to show her around Munich. I was doubtful about taking her to check out the city’s alternative Christmas scene (Tollwood is a kind of Christmas market crossed with a hippy festival), as I had been advised by a native Muenchner that Tollwood is ‘too dirty and crazy’ for mothers, but it was definitely an experience. We also drank organic Gluehwein in a ski-lift-cabin in englischer Garten, sampled the winter specials in Starbucks (Lebkuchen Latte) and visited some of the sights. The snow is still one of the main sources of stress in my life (second only to attempting to retain any degree of concentration after during my three hour civil law lecture), but this weekend the markets were particularly nice with the light snow.
I’m glad my mum visited so close to my flying home for Christmas (Scotland, I’m coming home on Monday!), this time abroad certainly hasn’t toughened me up at all when it comes to goodbyes, and it was easier knowing I’d be home in less than a week. Munich’s exchange students are starting to return home for Christmas – classes are officially still on until the 23rd (I will never complain about Edinburgh’s winter exam diet again), but most are prioritising time at home over lectures we still only semi-understand. I’m increasingly impatient to see family and friends (and my dog) in Scotland, as wonderful as it is to be in Munich in winter, although I’m a bit nervous about the ‘reverse culture shock’ potentially involved in returning to Scotland – even if I don’t participate in the bloodbath every time a new till opens in Aldi (Germans, bless them, just don’t queue) or see the appeal of guys in lederhosen, German food and hearing the language doesn’t seem at all strange.
Despite the fact that I have been counting down the days (sadly, literally) to returning to Scotland since I booked my flight home for the Winterpause, I’m sad that the my first stint in Munich is almost over. Soon-to-be-ERASMUS students – I hate to be clichéd, but enjoy every second of your time studying abroad. It’s changed my life (and will most likely be a lot more interesting that moving into the Edinburgh law library next year, if what I hear about 4th year is true).