Whether you are someone who knows what I ate for lunch yesterday (pasta with a. Gorgonzola sauce) or someone who hasn't heard from me in ages, I'd like to take you back to the beginning of the story. In a way. Lately, I have noticed that my life has sections that revolve around an activity (work, school, etc.), and that people in one section are not always aware of the others - I call these the bubbles of my life.
The exchange program that carried me to Germany for the first time (not including vacations as a little human) has become an integral part of my - even daily - life, and thus, the second bubble. When I first moved to Leipzig and was looking for friends, I decided to give AFS a try. After all, we would all have something in common. I have now been volunteering for AFS Germany in numerous capacities (which mostly involves a lot of emailing, talking on the phone, and event planning) and the experience has opened all kinds of doors for me. Presenting new ideas to a group of 200+ volunteers? No problem. Moderating discussions about the future of our organization? Sure! Handling the finances for a 40-person event including reimbursements? Gladly. And the best part is that I will always be able to bring my own skills and qualifies to the table. I get to work on the projects that interest me, take on responsibilities that I feel suited for and get inspired by hundreds of volunteers who come together from the most diverse backgrounds for a common purpose. As far as I can tell, AFS will always be a part of my life.
As I mentioned earlier, my life has changed rather a lot. In February of this year I packed up that wonderful little apartment in Leipzig and moved into my new, on place in Berlin. I have never been a big city kid (let's be honest, Anchorage is barely a city) and would have never chosen Berlin on my own. But as fate has it, my next stepping stone was there. In the early months as school began to suck, I realized I would rather be studying economics. Instead of switching majors (not as easy as it sounds) I decided to set my sights on a graduate program in economics. So what are the admission requirements? Math classes, Econ classes, I can swing that. Experience in economic research? Shit.
On a whim, I asked my Econ professor for guidance - and boy was that a good idea. Two years later I finally took the step and applied for an internship at a research institute in Berlin. Success! A move! A successful internship! A job offer! A visa hassel! A valid work visa!
Thus, a new bubble was created. I have my own desk and a 40-hour work week and weekly team meetings and project numbers and papers and forms. It's all very exciting! We work on various research projects from analyzing funded housing to population development to rates of construction and so much more. I have fallen in love with organizing complicated spreadsheets and exploring statistics databases. I really hope that this bubble can stay a part of my life for quite a while. Despite the struggles on the side (gosh, 40 hours of work and 10 hours of sleep a night doesn't leave much space for fun) and school inching forward so slowly, I have found a new environment where I finally feel like I can thrive.
In summary, I moved to a huge city where I don't feel at home. But because so many parts of my life bring so much joy (volunteering with AFS, sailing when I can and a new job in the big city), I have been able to find solid ground and build a life for myself. I don't really save money yet, I have trouble getting the dishes done and I have to regularly renew my visa. But AFS gives me friends, work gives me intellectual stimulation and sailing gives me adventures. I'm not staying here forever, nor can I say what my next step will be, but the prospect of asking my boss to extend my contract excites me instead of scaring me. And I want to hold on to this feeling and continue to explore these new doors that are open to me.