Today is my last day here in Germany, which feels really strange.
I finally got all my papers last week. A friend of mine and I went to Cottbus for the last time and picked them up. We took some pictures in front of our main study hall where three years ago it all had started. We had met in a chemistry pre-course, where we tried to brush up on our knowledge. I can’t say that it worked but at least, we became friends during that week.
And all the wonderful things we had done together in our little group of four: We shoveled 2m deep holes in the frozen forest ground for soil science, we participated in a resource simulation where we all played different countries dealing with resources and trying to protect the environment. We lay at the lake with little paper notes with all the exam knowledge on them and at one point just lost it and ran into the lake screaming because our brains were overfilled. We took a road trip together to visit a friend of ours in Poland and the little yellow car we drove in nearly broke down at one point and we stood on the highway and didn’t really know what to do and the situation was at the same time frightening and utterly hilarious. We walked three hours in the boiling heat through the forest and finally went into a valley where mosquitos were eating us up and our professor asked three of the guys to build a hole in the ground so that we could find lignite. Oh, the crazy things we have done. They have been great.
Yesterday, we had a little celebration/ goodbye party with friends and family. I will miss them so much but I’m so grateful that I always have a place to come back to. For Fika, I made some Chokladbollar, aka chocolate balls, which are non-bake vegan Swedish treats.
It was also a time of finishing pieces. For example, I painted this clock for my family, for the kitchen:
And then I made a new portrait of Meryl. Because… Meryl. Obviously.
This has pretty much been my week. Lots of packing, organising, bringing paintings to people, and a tiny bit of celebration along the way. I have to say I’m really nervous right now, I even feel stressed out. I know that I will be fine and that I cannot plan every detail about my next few months, especially since I’m not even in Sweden yet. But my brain is trying to and thus hits a wall. I think I’ll make myself a cup of tea now, put on some music, and try to calm down for a while. And then, back to packing and cleaning and running around the house with fifteen different items piled on top of each other so that I don’t even see my feet anymore. It’s fun, this wandering life. But it can also be quite challenging. Nevertheless, I’m so grateful to be able to live it.
I have a rather complicated and probably four-hour long evening routine. I can only do it in its full beauty now because I have so much free time. During my internship in Münster it was practically impossible. I came home without any energy left, ran to my room past my roommate who always wondered if everything was ok with me, ran out again to my bike, got some groceries and nearly died on the hill I had to cycle up, came home, cooked, ate, slept. You can see, it was a lot of running during that time. And not much time for long chill evenings.
Now, I do the following: I love to take a wonderful evening walk when the sun has already set and it’s beginning to cool a little. I walk all the paths of my childhood and sometimes even explore new ones. It’s like exploring my mind as well.
I come home and I still need to finish some painting commissions for friends and family before I leave. So I sit down in front of the canvas, put a nice audiobook on (currently Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones) and paint. I usually completely lose track of time there.
On good days, on motivated days, I do some yoga with a wide open window in front of me, in the complete dark. Let the cool wind from outside carry my movements. I don’t light candles that much right now because the mosquitos come in and eat me up at night. If I’m really good, I will even meditate for a while but usually I lack the patience for that. Which is sad and I know that meditating is the way of developing patience. I guess I get caught in an evil circle there.
Sometimes if I’m not really tired yet and my mind is still buzzing, I like to work on some choir arrangements for songs that I found and loved. It’s funny because I don’t even lead a choir right now but deep in my heart I know that some day I will have a choir again that I will be singing these songs with. So on my laptop, there is a large folder which is called “Sheet music for the choir”. Pretentious? Maybe. But I love the thought of it.
Since I’m moving to Sweden, I have developed a habit of practicing Swedish every night as well. I use Anki for that and there is a nice card deck that I found online which compiled the most used phrases in Swedish. The words are ranked according to their number of occurences in literature and then put together. I listen to those sentences, translate them, repeat their pronounciation and this way I have made large improvements in my understanding. The last few weeks that got a little boring so instead, I started listening to audiobooks in Swedish. Which was the coolest. One night I couldn’t sleep and started listening to Harry Potter “De vises sten” (Philosopher’s stone) in Swedish. I mean I have read these books so many times that I can practically speak half of the lines but I understood nearly every word of it, even in my sleepy late-night mind, so that made me quite happy.
Talking of habits: At one point during my thesis writing process I decided that I was on my laptop too much and didn’t make enough art anymore. I have a rule that there must always be an empty sketchbook and an empty notebook in the house because I have ideas for new projects all the time. I took the sketchbook from my bookshelf and started doodling what happened that day. It became another way of recording for me. These sketches are really easy and fast, but that is the beauty of it. It also helps me develop my sketchnoting vocabulary, which will be useful when I’m back in university in September. I’m filling this notebook with the events of my days and it’s a lovely thing to look back on. I will probably have more to tell once I’m in Sweden because right now, I could just draw one huge camping chair with a book on it and a glass of water on the side. Maybe some knitting work. But apart from that, there’s not that much happening. Summer laziness, beautiful summer laziness.
And then after all these activities (they usually already take three hours), it’s writing time. It’s usually what I end my evening with. I record what happened that day or my thoughts on whatever happened. This is my work in the first document. I started it in April and it has currently 140 pages. Then, I like to go on to a project I’m working on, like writing a book about climate change or one about forests or a memoir. I have so many documents sitting in my writing folder and each evening, I like to pick one and put some words into it. It’s lovely to see how they are growing. They are all huge works-in-progress and I don’t like to add any pressure because I know that would freak me out. It’s ok if they take time.
I just sat outside in the heat, in the camping chair, quite laid back, knitting. I had a thought that came to my mind, when I gathered some dreams of mine. I noticed that of all the things I like to do in the evening, writing is by far the most fixed one. I always write, no matter what. It’s such an important aspect of my life somehow. Even in the most stressful phases (even during studying for exams or trying to adjust myself in a new country) I wrote NaNoWriMo for three years already – 50 000 words in 30 days. Even when I’m not capable of anything else anymore, I still write for an hour.
(This text was only supposed to be five lines long but in the end it’s become this. I guess that just underlines the point, doesn’t it? :D)
I would love to make a little book out of my thesis (which would be less technical than the actual thing. Less graphs and less “methods and literature review” 😀 ) Maybe also including some other things I have learned about throughout the years in university. Would you like to read something like that?
This week has mainly been filled with me typing away on my laptop. On Wednesday, I will hand in my bachelor thesis and there are still some other assignments to be written. I love writing, though, so that’s not a big problem. Only that at one point you lose your motivation. That has been a little exhausting sometimes. It’s been three years of studying now and I’m really happy to have had great teachers and that I have learned a lot. But I’m craving for a change.
It hasn’t been all working and studying though. I also got to enjoy the great weather during a weekend at home…
And when I was back in Cottbus, back at my uni, I rode my bike out of the city every day. It’s so refreshing and so calming to have all the trees around and the river so calm beside you. I’m normally working a bit in the morning and then when I hit the first wall of writer’s block, I go downstairs, hop on my bike, and just ride away. It’s been lovely.
I have less time for drawing than I would like to have but I know that when my studies are over for this semester, I will have all the time I want. So instead of painting or sketching much, I have worked on my pullovers and jackets a little. It doesn’t take any setting up like painting (which is, by the way, the only thing I don’t like about painting). I just grab whatever project I’m working on currently (there is a huge variety of them to choose from) and start. One row or sometimes I work until the yarn ball is finished. It’s really calming and I don’t even have to be creative in any way for the moment. Just knit. And why am I doing this? I need to prepare myself for the Swedish winter. 😀
And it was also Midsummer last weekend! I haven’t experienced Midsommar in Sweden yet but I would love to. Maybe I will make this possible next year and join some of the craziness that is going on on that day. Instead of jumping around a midsummer pole or making a flower crown for myself, I have painted some flowers. These cards are really small which makes them easy to finish in two hours. And I learn a lot about botany along the way, which is always great.
Then there was the highlight of this week: The choir concert. In Sweden last year, I have been in an absolutely amazing choir. It had a great leader who taught me a lot about singing and about holding a choir together so that everyone has lots of fun. Which she definitely achieved. I got really sad when I had to leave this choir to go back to Germany but in my head, an idea developed. We didn’t have a choir in our university in Cottbus back then so I thought: Why not make one? So I did.
I wrote lots of emails and one day, the leader of the student theatre called me and asked if I would like to set it up there. Which I did. We are 12 people all together now and we sing mostly modern pop songs that are really quite fun. I learned loads about conducting, about harmonies, about sounds and especially about group leading through this experience. And after 13 weeks of rehearsals, it was time for our first concert:
We had an amazing time and a big audience in the small theatre as well. Probably around 50 people were there. The voices in the choir were a little shaky in the beginning but during the concert I developed such a calmness that the others said that I calmed them down as well. We had loads of fun and I couldn’t stop smiling. The best moment was when we taught our audience a canon we had sang before. We split them into three parts and they sang beautifully. I stood there, surrounded by the choir, looking at the audience, conducting. I thought: “This has been a dream. And now it has come true”.