I’m currently sitting at a desk inside a renovated ex-military barracks in the north of Germany.
This place used to be a Nazi base, and it’s now an international university. It’s an odd thing, an oasis of English in the middle of Bremen-Nord. The people of the city don’t know much about the students here and vice versa. The gated walls of the campus are overflowing with ambition and intelligence; however, they quite nicely contain most people, wrapping (trapping) them up in booze, events and intellectual discussions.
I came here without knowing anything about the strange dynamics that I’d later find myself experiencing and explaining. In the country I come from, college usually costs more than tuition at Jacobs, and one has to spend an additional year recapping high school before getting down to business. I didn’t want to do that. My life up until that point had culminated in a foray into zero-gravity free-floating around the world. I didn’t feel connected to my country at all. I certainly didn’t want to spend any more of my life in it, not when there was all the rest of the earth to explore. So when I got the acceptance email from this school, I was like, Europe, cool. Why not? Yolo.
Here’s me having an internal dialogue with my 19 year-old self:
Current Megan: Why again did you decide to go to university?
Teenie Megan: Quite frankly, because I couldn’t think of anything better to do. I’m 19 and an idiot. Everyone expects me to go. Because…ahhhh…if I study business, and everything is a business, I can do anything? Or at least maybe something?
CM: You don’t need to be so hard on yourself. You’ve come quite far in the last 3 years, you know.
TM: I should have predicted that it would go almost the same as the first time I went to college. When I was 18, I skipped French class all the time to go wander around in the woods. I did cool stuff like be an art model and take mime class, but I felt so fundamentally disconnected to the whole thing that I quit after 1 semester.
CM: Yeah, and this time you decided to make it even more interesting by facing the same thing in a foreign land where you have to worry about visas and learning a new language. And even weirder still, trying to give a fuck about grades while wanting to be off-campus adjusting to German life.
TM: I just got back from a tiny village in Senegal where essentially my only concern was learning to adapt and live with the local culture. I learned to tell the kids in Wolof that they couldn’t play with my football in the middle of the village because the chief forbid it. How could I not be drawn to communication with the people of the next country I ended up in, having learned to love the challenge playing by different rules for the game of life while in West Africa?
CM: Indeed, teenie Megan. I have more questions for you, of course, but I’m skipping class right now. See ya.