No matter how fond I’ve grown of Lucerne and her beautiful mountains, Rhineland-Palatinate and her soft hills, covered with vineyards as far as the eye can see, have a special place in my heart. I do feel a bit nostalgic now, gazing out of the train window while the landscape is swiftly passing by, reminding me of my solitary year in Germany.
I’d never have the strength and self-confidence I have today if I hadn’t left Switzerland two years ago, isolating myself while giving me the space that I needed in order to grow and to discard the chains I had let society put around me. For over a year, I was free – and I flourished.
But being in my new class has put those chains on again. I’ve felt a dissonance in the first week and the gap has been widening ever since then. I’m rediscovering my most awkward self in group situations. I don’t feel like myself, dislike the insecure person I turn into. It reminds me of my horrible experience as an exchange student in Uruguay. The difference is that my classmates here seem to be nicer. And that’s exactly the thing I don’t understand: They are nice and I usually don’t have issues with people either – so what the hell is wrong? Bad chemistry?
I’m not even sure whether the notion of not being accepted is real or just in my mind, but anyways, it doesn’t help closing the gap that is very real. I haven’t been feeling like an outsider for a while and certainly didn’t expect to ever fall back into this role again. It inhibits me. And this time, I don’t have the luxury to leave, breaking free in order to get the space to reinvent myself.
So currently, I’m somewhere between sorrow and acceptance. I didn’t enjoy the Paris trip mainly because of this – no trip is enjoyable when you feel left out. It’s a pity, because in one-to-one situations, things seem to be okay. We get along. It’s just the group dynamics that troubles me. On the other hand, I survived Uruguay with almost nobody giving me the feeling of being appreciated. If the worst comes to the worst, I know I can manage. If they don’t like me, it’s not the end of the world, I have supportive friends near and far. And if the problem is bad chemistry, you can’t force it to be right anyways.
All that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my hopes of having a good relationship with my classmates. I just try not to be disappointed if it doesn’t work out.
Fortunately, it’s different in my flat. I adore Vera and Robin, with whom I’ve been living for two months. Being with them calms me down and fills me with joy. Just now we’ve been talking about stalkers, psychos, and so forth, and whether ripping off an ear or poking out an eye is the more effective defense method – all the while laughing wonderful belly laughs. From the beginning, things have felt right. And our two new flatmates are lovely as well.
Besides, Robin’s friends (who I see like once a week) are super nice as well. I’m not used to people including me in conversations, but they’ve included Vera and me from the beginning and are wonderfully warm, fun and kind-hearted human beings. Extra bonus: We (my flatmates and I) have started taking random (but fun!!) group photos every week and they’re crazy enough to join us.
I’m accepted. I appreciate it so much.