Auf Wiedersehen

I mean, it had to come sooner or later, didn’t it?

It’s the last 24 hours of my university exchange and 2015/16 European adventure. After one big semester, six months, about 55 rail and road trips, 20 hostel stays, nine Ryan Air flights, 4000 photos, 60 blog posts, countless friendships made and more money than I want to think about spent, it is finally time to head back to Adelaide and continue on the Electric Holy Road in a more homely sort of way.

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Heidelberg’s Castle, one of the first stops on the trip

I can’t say I’m particularly ecstatic to be heading home, to be giving up my new-found freedom and opportunities to travel to some of the worlds most interesting cities, but I’m definitely keen to roll up in my own bed again, to find some level of comfort in the familiar and “start again” with a whole host of new skills, memories and strengths under my belt. The exchange may be over, but the excitement of every-day life and adventure definitely isn’t.

It’s a massive cliché to say, and something I planned not to say at all, but these past months really have been some of the best of my life. I’m so grateful, and incredibly lucky, to have been born in a position where I had the opportunity to undertake such a venture, to use my education to send myself overseas for an extended period of time. And it’s warmed my heart to have so many readers from all over the world, from Latvia to Chile, following my blog on a regular basis. This period of my life, starting from about the end of 2014 to the start of 2016, has been one of the most challenging, transformative and enlightening periods of my life. For all the chaos, the stress, the heartbreak, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s all been perfect.

So it’s time to say “bye for now” to Germany, to wider Europe, and, painfully, all the people I’ve met here who won’t be coming back with me to Adelaide. I have so much love to send to all of you. Maybe send me a self-addressed envelope and I’ll send you back some heart shaped chocolates or something? It really tears me up inside to say “see ya”, but, as I noted in a previous post, this is definitely not the end. This trip has allowed me to see the world as incredibly small, the future incredibly huge and the opportunity to return as a pretty concrete reality.

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The colourful streets of Camden Town

It also definitely doesn’t mean that I’m giving up my life of adventuring. Australia is a huge place, and one that I haven’t covered entirely yet. Even my own little world around Adelaide is dotted with amazing locations to inspire. So this isn’t the end of my blog. There’s still so much to get out of my brain into words. There may be less letters on Europe, obviously, but there’s definitely going to be more poetry, stories, art… God, who knows? Anything really. I do hope you’ll stick around to see where the Electric Holy Road leads next.

And the people. Far out, the people. I’d have never thought I’d end up with friends from all over the world. All the people I met in Mannheim, all those wandering spirits I met and drank with in hostels, all those people on the street I happened to run in to… they’ve all been super important to me in their own way. To those who I became particularly close to, in one way or another, just remember I’ll only ever be a Facebook message away. Thank you all for being wonderful people, and simply existing. By crossing paths with me, you’ve improved my life greatly, and I can only hope I gave you something too. Cheers, mates.

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That famous shot of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Hopes, Worries and Resolutions

Returning home is going to be a huge deal. From everyone I’ve talked to about the topic, it seems that the period of re-adjustment is going to be a long and hard one. The prospect of returning to the family home (for a while at least), having to find employment again, having to complete the last couple of semesters of my degree, having to find a whole new group of friends even and then moving forward from there… well, that’s a little scary, isn’t it?

Despite the anxiety and fear of the stress to come, I know it’s only natural, that the cosmos flows in waves. Happiness cannot exist with periods of sadness and vice versa. So, I’m going to embrace the hard feelings to come, not let them master me, and, if possible, channel them into something creative and colourful.

I’ve already thought long and hard about what I’m going to do when I get back. One of the major things is begin writing more, and finally make the beginnings of a proper career out of it. Though I’ve already managed a blog for some time, written a ridiculous amount of theatre and film reviews, penned articles for global companies and universities, I still think there’s a lot more to do. I want to live a life of art and creations, one where I can be fulfilled with words, one where I can share my stories and thoughts with the world. I hope you’ll join me there, some day.

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A view from one of my favourite European monuments in Barcelona

So I wrote a little list of resolutions for the return. I know some of them are going to be easier to manage then others but I think they’re all going to be hugely important to me going forward.

1. Work out more
2. Meditate more
3. Get more in touch with nature and self
4. Consume not McDonalds and consort not with the minions of Ronald McDonald
5. Don’t buy anymore Warhammer or other useless crap until you’ve finished what you already have
6. In general, limit purchases more. All good things (and cheap things) come to those who wait
7. Sell off a lot of soul-drowning material, save and invest in life-improvement
8. Continue Electric Holy Road and other online writing ventures
9. Write more, keep up the old schedule of at least 500 words a day
10. Make sure you get payed for your writing
11. Join some creative clubs and organisations. Get amongst it.
12. Avoid over-sentimentality and don’t let emotions rule you. Go with the flow, but swim to the best currents as well
13. Let go of worry and fear
14. Let go of the hard feelings about leaving Europe

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On Lake Como

With very little of my old life left back home after this year of strife and growth I’ve begun to feel a lot like a whole new person. While walking through the beautiful, fairy tale town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber the other day (the last stop on my Germany wishlist) I began to realise that I’d grown out of my old shell. No longer limited by the fear and sadness of the past, I’ve reached a point where I can happily go forward into the unknown. While I still where some patterns and scars from my old life, the person underneath has become revitalised, mature, confident and fearless. That’s the most important thing I’ve taken from this trip, and something I think a lot of others who have gone on exchange or other massive adventures could be able to say. Travel leaves a very visible mark, a brand that tells the world, “I stepped out of my comfort zone, I went beyond, I survived and I’ve grown from it.”

Sure, that might be a silly way of thinking about it but I think it’s a positive one. We talk a lot about this idea of “wanderlust”, but less about what the wandering actually does to us. Instead of simply floating about cities and forests, we should also take a minute to recognise what travel can really do for us, and appreciate that only a relatively small percentage of our global population ever get the chance. It’s something blessed, something amazing, something psychedelic, something cosmic.

Auf Wiedersehen doesn’t mean “good bye”, it means “until we see each other again”. Thank you so much for everything.

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Flying to Frankfurt long, long ago…

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3 thoughts on “Auf Wiedersehen

  1. Aaaaaayyyy </3
    This entry is so, so beautiful that I think I'm gonna cry, James!! Jajaja
    I could write a super long reply here, but maybe this is not the place, nor the right moment 🙂
    I'll just say (and I think I speak for all the people who love you) "thank you". Thank you, James, for being yourself, and letting us enjoy your company. And thanks, Universe, to have allowed us to meet this amazing human being! Thank you, too, James, for being so brave, for having come to Europe, for having dared to traveled on your own to so many different places, and experienced so, so much. Thanks for not fearing anything, because as you know, nothing but regret comes from fear.
    Something great awaits, James. And it's great (and it'll always be) just because YOU are great 🙂 I look forward to knowing from your new adventures ❤
    Muchos besicos :*

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Lara :____) I won’t get too sentimental here either but you have no idea what this means to me 🙂 It’s been such an amazing time, and getting to hang out for a little bit in Spain was just.. you know, wow!
      I look forward to the future too! I’m sure there will be more to share very soon ❤
      Danke schön, schatzi!

      Like

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