Life As An American In Europe

Taylor has been a friend of mine for over eight years. He is such a sweet person and I am so excited to have him on Go Giver! He is currently going to school overseas reversing his role from a welcomer of international students to becoming one himself.

Introducing our first  of “Perspectives Men”,  Taylor Anderson! 


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Living in Germany has definitely been a huge change in my life. I had to learn the national language when I came here and there are some things that classes can’t teach me. I have to venture out of the classroom to experience the culture first-hand and how to use the language in everyday life. By learning the language, I have grown to love the people here. I find them to be wonderful caring people, and I value the friendships I have made here. I love being able to go see my friends close by, being able to go out into town, and meeting up with people to talk.

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All this to say… It isn’t an easy life.

I have had days when it is frustrating that I can’t talk with another person and they can’t understand me.

I have had days when I wish I had enough money to run home really quickly just to be with my family during a problem.

 I am trying to live a life with no regrets.

I only have one shot to do things and I have a big list of goals that I want to accomplish and I don’t want anything or anybody to get in the way of my goals.

Yes, it may seem a bit strange that I decided to study abroad for a full year of my life. It might be strange that I have decided to do something different than most people in the US would not choose to do. In the end I don’t regret making the decision to go study abroad in Germany.  I have been able to learn so much about myself.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Getting out of my comfort zone has really brought a new perspective about life and the love I feel towards international relations and the cultures around the world. Studying abroad is not for everybody, but I do value and respect people who take it upon themselves to travel. To see the world and to care for other people who might not be Americans. You never know when someday you might need a person that you can’t understand or is not like you. People need to care for people that are different and or who might think in a different way. 


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Taylor Anderson is third year junior from the University of Southern Indiana. He is studying International Studies, German, and Anthropology currently in Marburg, Germany at Philipps Universität Marburg as an international student. He is a proud United States citizen living in Germany and is truly enjoying learning a new language and culture.  By being an international student he has learned that one country does not have to define a person, but instead people can be defined by multiple cultures.

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Polska Polska.

It has been well over a year since my summer travels took me to Poland in 2014.

Recently, my then teammate (and now good friend!) Madi rearranged her blog to have a special place for her Poland adventures. As I read through them all I was filled with some fond memories of community, love, and service while living in Poland. While reading, I began to think about so many things that have happened since that time. How I have changed, how events have happened, and whether or not my time in Poland truly changed me.

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This inspired me to find my old blog (which was really lame and only had about 8 posts on it) and try to share those adventures with you.

I created a new category (Poland) and a new tag (Polska 2014) to make them easy to find.

Poland 2014

Proszę

Pokora

Pasja

Reszta

Do Widzenia, Rzeszow!

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I have also taken the time to put them in the order in which they were written. Keep in mind these blogs were written a couple years ago, and my writing style has changed and developed even over just this past year. I decided not to change the wording to keep the authenticity of what “2014 Chelsea” was thinking. I did add some photos to help with each topic.

I hope you enjoy these posts from so long ago and that they help paint a picture of beautiful Poland and maybe a bit about me as well.

Also, if you are interested in reading about these Polish adventures from a different point of view, check out Madi’s wonderful blog posts!

Much love. Much grace.

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Munich Airport

Ah yes. I am back in the States, and have been for a couple weeks. I’ve only been at my family’s house for about a week, and I have found “re-entry” into the American culture interesting to say the least.

As my friend and team-mate, Madi, wrote in her blog (bottom of page) , there are a few differences between Polish and American culture. These were differences we all had come to love and cherish while spending our summer in Poland. However, one thing that did not cross my mind until our ending meetings, was “Reverse Culture Shock”. Reverse Culture Shock is when someone who has been overseas, comes back to his or her home culture. They had culture shock visiting the new country, but now have to readjust to the home culture they have been out of for a period of time.

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The Cloth Hall in Krakow, Poland

So yes. That is what I have been doing for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been getting used to the noisy, hustle, and attitude that defines American culture. It’s not bad… Just different. Re-entering America has been hard. It has been hard not to be overwhelmed by everything.

The English conversations and being able to understand them.

How people run, jog, or hurry in general to get where they need to go.

The noise being well over the quiet tone of Polish culture.

Seeing how parents treat children, and how those children treat each other.

How Americans have such pride over our country and the freedom we have.

The friendliness of meeting random people in airports… and that being welcomed.

The dramatic, confident way people behave.

Not better or worse. Just different.

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It has been a crazy couple of weeks. I am sure I will have more issues, especially as school starts, but I feel somewhat ready.  I believe that being back here, happened at the right time and place for a reason. To share my adventures, sadness, and joys from Poland. To observe things between cultures and try to embody the characteristics I love about both of them. To share what I have learned with whom I am able, and to be understanding when others just want a short answer.

Learning how to do what I learned how to do this summer.

Be GRACIOUS.

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First thing to do in the USA is enjoy Frappuccinos  from Starbucks

Much love. Much grace.

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Want to know more about Poland? Check out my teammate and friend Madi! Her posts are such a joy to read.

ENJOY!

Do Widzenia, Rzeszow!

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This is was our last week in the wonderful town of Rzeszow (Jeh-shoove) Poland. We will be moving onto a couple of different towns to learn more about Polish culture before embarking on the journey home.

I am always so surprised at how quickly endings come to beautiful things. How even though it has been over a month, I feel like we just got here. That we were just meeting people. And in someways, that is true.

We haven’t been here long, but it doesn’t take long to be able to love people. It didn’t take long at all to begin to work with them and laugh with them. We have been able to have fun and make friends without verbal communication. We were able to speak to each other in different ways. I feel like I had to try so much harder to get to know them.

 

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This is something I have grown to love. I feel like I know some of the Poles here better than I know people back home. Not because I don’t care about them, but because I only know about what they post on social media, not what it really happening in their lives; in their hearts.

I have learned through my life filled with various good byes, that we don’t have as much time as we think we do. We have to make the most of the time we are given. Even if we can’t speak the same language, feel awkward or uncomfortable, or don’t even know where to start. Those things should not matter. We should be fearless. We should be brave to live each day; knowing that good byes are coming and that they will be worth it. That the pain of miscommunication, and the struggle of new experiences have to happen and that they are so worth it.

We are not asked to sit and wait for the experiences, but to chase them down. We have to grab them as we come, or else spend our whole life asking ourselves “what if?”.
I have to allow myself to love in order to reach others.

I am so thankful for my time here. I wish it could be longer; I wish my friends and family could come and see the beauty that comes from sacrifice and love.

I will be sad as we say, “Do Widzenia” to our friends this week. I will miss them all. I will miss this city.

These people will always have a special place in my heart. And I don’t mind.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” -C.S. Lewis

Much love. Much grace.

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Reszta

 Climbing a mountain. Or at least hiking one, takes work. Lots of it. And that is what I did this weekend.

We had the opportunity to meet with some people from the UK and work with them. Painting nails for adults and painting faces for kids at a block party is always fun, but there is a sense of adventure when you can’t speak the language. At first this was hard, but then we were able to work out a system that included a form of charades, sign language, and drawing on our hands; which the kids found pretty funny.  It took a lot of work and patience to even do something very simple, but the result was amazing. There were a lot of great conversations had by the people working, and about 150 Bibles were passed out. Who knew that face painting and manicures could be used in such a way?

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We then had the opportunity to hike a mountain. LITERALLY.

Our new British friends led us up a path to a restaurant. And it was spectacular. The food was the best I’ve ever had.

But my favorite part was the hike.

Hiking is something that I have become more and more interested in, so I thought it was fantastic. It was amazing to be walking (or huffing) along, making sure I don’t fall on my face, and then I look over. And there it is. A view I have only seen in books and on calendars. Mountains and a valley, speckled with homes and fields. Absolutely breathtaking. I stop and just have to take it in. The wind in my hair, and the valley so deep, and I see how far we have come. How I could have missed something wonderful, if I hadn’t happened to glance to the side. How often to I live my life in such a way? That I am so focused on not messing up, or on the fine details, that I miss how wonderful things are.

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Even if from a distance, or the work being done by others. Sometimes I need to stop, breathe, and observe the work others are doing. Sometimes I need to rest and encourage; even when I don’t want to. I have been DOING and WORKING for so long, that I don’t know how nor want to rest and watch. It’s not the path I want, but it is the path I need; the one that will grant me rest. Sometimes it’s the one that is the most needed.

This is what the LORD says:

“Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ -Jeremiah 6:16

So yeah. I climbed a mountain. I ate food. I worked. I encouraged. I rested. And it is hard; not everyone understands. But it has to happen. It needs to. So it is.

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Much love. Much grace.

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