“Are you looking forward to going back to Scotland?” is the question I’m most frequently asked at the moment. I’m in the final lap of my ESC project in Bremen with only six weeks to go before I leave Germany. I tentatively answer with “yeah, I guess”, explaining that I haven’t seen my family in-person for over a year now; I want to see my friends, most of whom I haven’t seen since Summer 2019; and it’s about time I finish my degree (even though the idea of taking another gap year from my studies is very, very tempting). I am always hesitant to answer this question, and I think it’s because I haven’t quite realised that very soon, my ESC experience will be over, and I will no longer be living in the city I’ve called home for the last ten months.
After long, gruelling months of lockdown, in May the Covid-restrictions finally lifted in Germany, and since then it’s been a very hectic few weeks. Weekends have been packed, from day trips to other nearby cities, to visiting cafés and bars we walked past during the cold winter months and made a note of that we’d like to visit once they open again. Another exciting part of the last few weeks has been reunions! From my studies I have several friends spread out across Germany and with travel restrictions lifted, I’ve been able to visit them after so much time apart, which has been really lovely.
I’m also no longer just working from home now. Instead of only meeting with my
colleagues over Zoom, we meet at least once a week at the office and go for ice cream afterwards. I was also able to give my first presentation about ESC at a school recently along with another volunteer. It wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought and after spending the last few months studying German and building my confidence, I felt very comfortable presenting in German. Throughout the last few months, it feels as if every day I’ve learnt something new about Erasmus+ through various different tasks and I have really enjoyed discovering more and more to the programme. I’m really glad I took this time to take part in ESC, as I have learnt a lot about myself and my strengths, and ESC has given me ideas of what I could do in the future and what I want to get out of it. I also took part recently in (what I think was) one of the first offline events of my whole ESC project (after 10 months!) – we had a stand at the KulturMitmachMarkt, a cultural fair in the Rhododendron Park. The buzz and enthusiasm at the event was amazing and I felt so energised and enthusiastic in comparison to feeling drained and exhausted after online events. I hope I can organise or take part in another similar offline event before my ESC finishes, as it was definitely a highlight of my volunteering so far.
So, “are you looking forward to going back to Scotland?” In the last few weeks, I have been trying to make up for so much time lost to months and months staying at home due to lockdown and avoiding the driech Bremen weather (which has fully prepared me to go back to my rainy country!), I haven’t had a moment to pause and reflect on my ESC and what it’ll be like to leave Bremen. However, my answer is “yes”. I can’t imagine leaving Bremen and not seeing the other volunteers and our friends every day, as we’ve become such a close-knit group and they have been my family here. However, I think I am ready for what comes next. I will continue my bachelor’s degree in Glasgow and despite feeling nervous, especially as I haven’t studied for a long time, I am looking forward to it. Another question I am also always asked right now is “do you think you will you come back to live in Germany in the future?” and my answer is always enthusiastically “absolutely!”
Eilidh is hosted on our project “From Global to Local”, financed by the European Solidarity Corps and Jugend für Europa.