Well, friends, here we are yet again at the 27th of January. Although this day is likely just another Wednesday for you, it happens to be quite significant for me. “Why?” you ask. I’ll give you a hint: it begins with a “birth” and ends with a “day.” That’s right! Today is my birthday! And in keeping with my annual birthday tradition, it’s also the day when I post an entry reflecting on the lessons and experiences of the previous year. Since this year I am turning 27 (yes, it’s my Golden Birthday!), I will share with you 27 lessons from last year. Here they are, in no particular order* (*except for the final one). Buckle up and enjoy.
- Students (and archivists) can be bribed with cookies. If you don’t have cookies, chocolate is also effective.
- I actually like Brussel sprouts.
- If you get upgraded to Premium Economy on an international flight, try not to spill the free wine all over yourself right after takeoff. Or you will smell like an alcoholic for the remaining 9 hours of the flight.
- Kill the first ant you see in your kitchen. If you let it live, you will regret it.
- I don’t have to be intimidated by German grocery store dairy sections. TBD on whether I can overcome my fear of weird sliced German meats.
- Although I love teaching, I really, really, really don’t enjoy grading.
- If you turn the key twice while locking a Polish apartment door, it cannot be opened from the inside.
- I (still) have the best advisor.
- Double check the name on your boarding pass before getting in line at the gate, or you might be stuck in Heathrow for an extra 4 hours.
- If you register for a German bank account, don’t lose your officially assigned PIN number.
- When you’re having a bad day or things aren’t going well, be honest about your feelings, rather than pretending that everything is perfect.
- On a first date (especially one to a super fancy restaurant), go to the restroom after dinner. Even if you don’t need to use the facilities, this will provide a invaluable opportunity to check your teeth. Because the last thing you want is to look in the mirror at home 3 hours later and see that, yes, that piece of spinach is still there.
- There are few problems in life that waffle fries with Chick-Fil-A sauce can’t fix.
- You can make free phone calls to the US via Gmail without having a Google Voice number.
- Never go to Primark (or any equally popular European clothing store) on a Saturday.
- Essential prescription medications will inevitably get stuck for 6 weeks in Polish customs.
- Being a bridesmaid is a blast—and being a bridesmaid twice is even better!
- Airlines using the metric system are more forgiving with overweight luggage than those using the U.S. system. (ie, 1 kilo is less egregious than 2.2 pounds).
- Memes make everything better.
- If you’re planning to run 20 miles or more, don’t trust the weather forecast. Because chances are, if the forecast says “sunny”, you’ll get caught in a downpour. And if the forecast says “rain”, you’re going to get sunburned.
- I will likely never understand Polish numbers.
- The world is very, very small.
- If you decide to go to dinner with your roommate, remember that you are in public and not at home. Otherwise, you both might burst into made-up songs at highly inopportune moments.
- Call the Midwife is hopelessly addicting.
- Some random Facebook messages are worth replying to.
- Expat Thanksgivings aren’t so bad after all, especially when your best friend joins you for them.
One of the benefits of writing this blog post annually is, well, knowing in advance that I am going to write it. This means that I have ample time to reflect on the “big lesson” of the year. As I looked back on this 26th year of my life, I recognized that it was an important one, and I did a lot of significant things: taught my own class, ran my first marathon, wrote and defended my dissertation prospectus, moved home from Atlanta, learned to read old German handwriting, took 6 weeks of Polish, and moved to Berlin. It’s been a whirlwind–a very busy whirlwind. Yes, I’ve been around the world and back, and that’s pretty cool. But what makes the last year so special isn’t the “special” things I’ve done, but the fact that I have shared them with people who are special to me. And so, here is my 27th (or rather #1) lesson for this year:
Friendship makes life so much richer.
While I was in Austria, I discovered that adventures are best shared. And though I still hold that to be true, my understanding of “adventure” has shifted. You see, I now understand that it’s not the extraordinary experiences in themselves that matter, but it’s the chance to do life alongside people you care about. Because even when those people are scattered across the globe–when they’re miles, time zones, and continents away–they still stay close to your heart. For my grad school peeps and my Atlanta church family, for my long-time kamp friends and my brand-new Berlin friends, and for all the other people I love both at home and abroad, I am grateful. Thanks to these friendships, my life is rich and my heart is full. And I know that I am one of the luckiest birthday girls in the whole wide world, because I have so many people whom I dearly love.
And so, my friends, as I celebrate my 27th birthday, I also want to take a moment to thank you for making this last year and the 26 leading up to it so wonderful. Thank you for bringing me joy, for enriching my life, and for reminding me that I am loved, even from afar. Without you, this “Golden Birthday” of mine would be a tarnished silver at best. 😉
Note: I’ve only included pictures from the last year. If you aren’t shown here, please know that it’s due to a lack of space, rather than a lack of love!