Second and other thoughts

I wrote this piece at the end of August, sorry for any (additional) confusion or nonsense…

Something is different, there is no arguing that. Something is in the air, something that smells an awful lot like change. From one day to the other, there is a touch of yellow where there was only deep green. The leaves of the chestnut trees are even already turning brown. A GoT fan, one can only say: Autumn is coming (pronounced with a U).

It is true. Something is different, a different kind of wind is blowing through the narrow alleyways of my beloved university town in the southwest of Germany. The woods are starting to change their colour. Every day will see a new combination of shades of green, yellow, red and brown. And then, at the end of September, there will be a day hobby photographers and calendar publishers die for. The light, which has inspired more than one great poet, will be warm and golden.

Heidelberg in autumn
Heidelberg in autumn

So much for the advertisement part of my piece. My point is hardy to attract tourist (we cyclists know we have enough!), but to explain why I don’t have a huge grin plastered over my face. This should only be logical, since I am allowed to go to Edinburgh for my Erasmus year. So I am not smiling, I am looking rather grim, actually. Why? Because it is time to say goodbye, and because nobody is speaking out loud what has to be said:

That starting fresh is hard, and it is damn risky. Don’t kid yourself. A new country, a new flat, new friends (hopefully), a new language, a new currency (Was that prudent foresight or British snobbery? Either way, it literally pays off…) Hell, even driving will be a challenge.

In good old Europe, borders are something our generation of EU citizens notices because the language changes. We are the ones who will be associated with a new kind of mobility. We are the ones that have tea with our grandmother at her house in the countryside, but have to catch the over-night bus (15€), because – well: Berlin Calling.

They tell us that we can, so we do. And we are loving it. That is the easy part.

They don’t tell us what to do with the friends one will horribly miss, with the perfect part-time job (yes, something like that exists, keep searching), with this odd thing that is more than a fling and less than a relationship, yet…These questions are unanswerable for all of them. For your parents because you are partly living their dream without knowing, for your teachers because they consider it an academic necessity, for your friends because there is mostly envy in their eyes, especially in those of passionate Harry Potter fans.

So why jump? Why let go? Why Scotland of all places?

Let’s see. Let’s take a final look at the mental Pro-Cons-List. We have already had the cons.

The Pros. A considerable amount. 9 reasons. Among them (in corresponding order): A classic one, an academically honourable one, a banal one, one that is on the verge of being politically incorrect, one that is clearly sexist, a linguistic one, two idealistic ones and finally, a quote which acknowledges that some things have already been said with utter perfection.

  1. Landscape: Breathtaking scenery, Google pictures tells me. And who are we not to believe in soon to be Alphabet.
  2. A great university, or so they say…
  3. Erasmus = a giant party
  4. Ok, this pro is complex. It comes down to: I am a politically engaged person. And I am Austrian, Tyrolian to be exact. What this means is that two things that are not going together in my head are: patriotic and progressive. So the Scotish political landscape  is a mystery to me.
  5. James McAvoy. Self-explanatory.
  6. Diving into an incredibly rich culture and taking the time to understand what one sees, hears and feels.
  7. Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye. (Translation: Whatever will be, will be.) Who wouldn’t want to learn phrases like that?
  8. Because of the thrill. And because it is our only chance to leave the harmful prejudices behind…
  9. Because someone very famous has once said: “Not all those who wander are lost.”

    The tree literally on my doorstep this morning, taken very much in Edinburgh
    The tree literally on my doorstep this morning, photo taken very much in Edinburgh

Beneath the (still mental) Pro-Cons table, there is a line. Beneath that, Conclusion is written. Then, in bold letters: Pure dead brilliant.

Going back to the very beginning – I would hate to create the impression that this is a chaotic array of caffeine-controlled thoughts – the autumn leaves metaphor fits. It does. Let go, it’s time. Before you know it, you will be dancing in the air, whirled around by the wind, carefree.