After an almost 24 hours long journey in which I traveled around 4450 miles, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in a 9-hours different time zone, I arrived here in Salem, Oregon. That was on the 22nd of August last year – almost 9 months ago. Having only a blurry picture of what I imagined American Campus Life to be like (which I only knew from American college movies ) back then, I was very excited and did not really know what to expect.
Already within the first hours and days I knew I would have a great year ahead of me. The campus was so peaceful and beautiful, people were very friendly and welcoming and getting to know the group of international teaching assistants and living together with them was great! I found it especially nice to be part of a small campus community which I had not experienced before so far. I think it is great how many events and social gatherings take place on campus.
Some thoughts that went through my head from time to time during my stay here:
- “Wow! Everything is bigger than back home: the trees, the cars, the streets, distances, the groceries and food portions…. everything!”
- “What a way of “dancing” they have here…?!” I had never seen grinding before
- “This country is really sports-fanatic.” During this year I watched more sports games than ever before (baseball, football, basketball, hockey)
- “Cool, I have experienced my first Halloween and Thanksgiving!” and on Christmas I couldn’t get over all the sometimes really intense Christmas decorations and lightnings
- “Where are the bicycle paths? And where are the other bicyclists?”
- “I love American cookies/ brownies/ muffins. Why don’t we have Buzz Bars in Germany?”
Being part of Willamette University and working as a teaching assistant in the German department for two full semesters was a great experience. I learned a lot about American campus life, but also about myself. I enlarged my perspective on my own language and culture and had the chance to share some of that with Willamette students.
Oregon is a beautiful place on earth. Traveling around in Oregon, California, to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon were some highlights during my time here and I am so glad that I had the chance to see those places.
Besides all the wonderful people I met here I will also miss the small things that made a regular day here so liveable: having meals with friends in Goudy, interesting conversations with friends and students, hanging out in the bistro, walking downtown on a Sunday afternoon (even in the rain!) and ram and jammers nights on Thursdays.
Thanks to everybody who made my time here at Willamette so enjoyable! Now at the end of the 2nd semester I am looking back to an exciting, fulfilled and memorable year here at Willamette and I am happy about every single day I spend here!
Dear American and international friends, I hope to see you again in the future and surely you are all welcome to visit me in Germany!