Transition Time

Transition Time

From Freiburg to Wiedenest to Pakistan.

Its high time for another post! Yes, I made the slackline challenge (hurray, more in detail to follow) and no, I’m not in Pakistan yet – but I have left my home of seven years and moved away from Freiburg. Its been a pretty busy few weeks. Transition time. Packing time. Goodbyes. Painting my room. Presenting the work I will be doing in Pakistan. Getting rid of stuff. A lot of stuff. Writing Emails. Making phone calls. Trying to study in the midst of it all…a bit too much going on, really, but also an exciting time of change and transition. Just a few too many goodbyes. I tend not to think much about the implications of leaving until after the fact – makes things easier while there is still work to be done. But the last week in Freiburg I found myself saying goodbye to friends at my University, colleagues from work, neighbours, flatmates, girls from youth group, friends from church, random places that I knew I wouldn’t visit again…and caught myself feeling slightly sentimental. Seven years. I had never lived that long in one place. Ok, I left Freiburg a few times before as well and moved house like five times…but still. Its a long time all the same.

Somehow I both love and hate goodbyes. I love the excitement, the change, the anticipation of the new that is to come…and I hate having to organise a move, figuring out the logistics, and actually saying goodbye. Let’s make it short. Bye. See ya sometime. God bless.
I guess its just one of those things that doesn’t really get easier either. You’d think after moving so many times it wouldn’t matter anymore…but somehow it does.

And yet, its still not a final goodbye. I’ll be back for my Spanish exam in two weeks and Lord willing back to visit sometime next year. But I must confess I actually started writing a goodbye song…trying to put my thoughts into words. Maybe I’ll manage to finish it before I fly and can share it with you 🙂 For now – I am in the midst of preparations for moving to and working in Pakistan, continue to study and will hopefully manage to keep writing too.

Transition Time.

I started writing this post about two months ago and MUCH has happened since. Publishing it got buried under other tasks – like that exam I mentioned, preparation time in Wiedenest, packing and moving to Pakistan!

Transition time.

That place between the pages of two chapters.
That no man’s land.
That moving truck between a home and some place new.
Those strange in-between days that don’t quite belong to any season.

Closing the chapter “Student Life”, whatever that means.
A chapter of learning, discovering, trying things out, meeting people, getting to know yourself a bit better, perhaps, and figuring out life, setting goals, being idealistic and hoping to somehow change the world for the better. No routine or strict schedule – though I suppose that depends on what it is you are studying. Not accountable to anyone and free to learn or not as you please. Flexible. Able to travel at a moment’s notice. Student discounts wherever you go…its been real. Time to be a responsible adult now.

Closing the chapter “Freiburg”.
Pretty little city. Warmest region of Germany. Wine-growing area. Black Forest (Must say I did enjoy being a tour guide there…) Flammkuchen. Tannenzäpfle (though I must confess I never much liked the taste). Schwarzwälder Schinken. Bicycles. Dreisam. Bächle. Friends. Home. Place so full of original and alternative style I always felt one could do any strange thing and never receive an awkward glance. I could go to class barefoot, no one would mind.

Closing the chapter “Germany”.
After 9 years, my passport country has found a place in my heart. (I’m probably far more German than I even realise. Not too punctual though, I’m afraid.) Efficient. Organised. Productive. 😉 Autobahn without speed limits…and people (mostly) adhering to traffic rules. Old castles, old churches. Half-timbered houses. Nice cars. Free education. Chocolate. Hefeweizen. Sauerkraut. Semmelknödel. Rotkohl. Rinderroladen. Spätzle 🙂 Beautiful landscapes to explore by bike, beautiful lakes and refreshing rivers to jump into, beautiful rocks to climb. People with a variety of different lovely German dialects…Alemannen, Schwaben, Sachsen 🙂 and I especially remember the cities where I preached or shared the gospel with some friends. Freiburg. Munich. Erding. Ulm. Nürnberg. Siegen. Berlin. Spending some hours on the street, talking with random strangers about life, faith, hope. Its the 500th anniversary of the reformation this coming year – I wonder how many Germans know the good news of Jesus and are aware of God’s amazing love?

Transition Time.
The room a mess. Boxes everywhere. Piles of clothes and random things to give away or throw in the trash. Doctor’s appointments, last minute check-up at the dentist. Vaccinations.
For a few weeks, I have no home.
Living out of a suitcase. Instability. Strange combination of excitement and exhaustion.
Apprehension and longing. Happiness and a sense of sadness.
What day is it again?

At the airport in Leipzig.
Suitcases all checked in.
Final goodbyes said. Hugs.
Waving one last time as I move through the passport control.
Take off the shoes. And belt. No belt? Forgot it. Don’t ask me how.
Laptop and liquids separate, please.
Sitting in the waiting area – time to board the flight.
Writing messages to family and friends until a stewardess bids all passengers to switch off their electronic devices.

Layover in Istanbul.
Standing at a counter waiting.
“So where’s home for you?” The man in front of me asks, a kind smile in his eyes.
“Everywhere and no-where,” I reply.

I like layovers.
I like long journeys.
They allow you to take time for that in-between phase.
They help you take a moment to reflect and look back on that last chapter, remember what was wonderful and let go of what wasn’t.
They give you a moment to hold your breath as you think in anticipation of what is to come, as you wonder about the new chapter ahead – wonder what is in store and whether it’ll be all you expect or quite different.
They give you a moment to rest, to be in no-man’s land and just sleep.
There is time still. The flight isn’t leaving for another few hours. Just stop for a bit.
Regain your strength. People used to go by boat, they had a long time for transition then.
Everything moves faster nowdays.

Transition time.
That time and place between the pages of two chapters.
That no man’s land.
That moving truck between a home and some place new.
Those strange in-between days that don’t quite belong to any season.

Transition time.
It ends soon.

I began my studies in Freiburg in October 2009.
Last Thursday, I went out for a special buffet breakfast at the fancy Serena hotel with my parents and little brother in Islamabad, Pakistan, celebrating the success of my final exam in Spanish on November 18th 2016, marking the end of my studies. (Time for a little victory dance, it is finished! :D)

Now, I am starting a new chapter:
Chapter “teaching” and “Pakistan” and “let’s-pretend-to-be-grown-up”, or something like that.
I have already arrived.
I have a new phone number, some new clothes and will soon have a new apartment: a new place to call home.
Excitement outweighs doubt or apprehension:
This is going to be a good chapter, I can tell!

Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord

My favourite way to start the day is when I manage to get up early, go outside and have some time just me and God. Go for a walk, a run, a swim – whatever. Just enjoy being out in the cool morning air, hear the birds chirp and maybe even watch the sunrise. When I was in Ulm two weeks ago I did just that – one morning I jumped in the Danube and another I cycled up a hill to the Wilhelmsburg, an old fortification with a tower that offers a great view of the city.
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And the sun was just rising as I reached the top – it was beautiful. I had my Bible with me and randomly opened it at Psalm 113 – and it couldn’t have been more fitting!

Praise the Lord.
Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people.
He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord. (Psalm 113 NIV translation, emphasis added)

It is truly good to praise God! It is the best way to start the day and the best way to finish the day. No matter what is going on, there is always reason to praise God because HE is good. Because He is just. Because his love never fails. His mercy is new every morning.

I was so happy that morning – happy for the sunrise, happy to be cycling, happy to spot a hot air balloon in the sky. Happy because it was the day we were making parathas for breakfast and going climbing. Seemed like the perfect start to a perfect day. And I thanked God for it. But even though in every day life I don’t always take the time to go out first thing in the morning – either because I’m too lazy or because I feel like I have too much stuff to get done…I realise that taking time to at least thank God for a new day and recognising how much I have to be grateful for also contributes to cultivating a positive heart attitude, changes my perspective and automatically makes my day better as I am reminded of God’s goodness in the big and little things.

So here are some things I want to praise God for this week:

  • Last weekend we had a leadership retreat from my church and it was so encouraging to spend time together, read the Bible, pray for eachother.
  • We were in Breisach, right next to the Rhine river – and again I managed to go for an early morning and evening walk and enjoy the beauty of the moment. (I had to skip the slackline for three days – didn’t have one there! Really noticed it on Monday…)
  • Work was good last week, I enjoyed the tours with my tourists and had good weather, a friendly group, not too much traffic – and generous tips 🙂
  • I found out when my last exam is going to be (mid November) and have three more weeks to study than I expected 🙂
  • I found out a friend from church actually goes rock climbing and we went climbing last week which was pretty cool – hope to go again these next weeks, so climbing partner prayer answered 🙂
  • I’m doing some teaching at a discipleship school these next few weeks and am excited and encouraged to see God at work in the students’ lives
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Praise the Lord from the rising of the sun…
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to the place where it sets. (Rhine river, Breisach)

Discovering: my first 3-day bike tour OR: What’s next? 

So I know I promised some more pictures and details of the Black Forest and hikes…things have been a bit crazy lately and I didn’t really get around to it. After my Black Forest camping trip and super important final exam I had some time with friends and family and actually even spent a day at the North Sea 🙂 and then had to do a lot of work for Uni, organizing some stuff and actually preparing for what comes next. I’ve talked about finals and how I’m in my finishing sprint for exam but never really mentioned what I’m going to do when those exams are done. Two years ago I shared my post “A choice you make“, saying how in the end, no matter how many things you’re interested in or passionate about or how many options might even make sense – you can’t do everything and have to be brave and choose something while saying no to something else. Finishing Uni the logical step would have been for me to do 1,5 years teacher training at a school in Germany – working and preparing lessons and already with a salary but under supervision and with some additional classes and testing. Another option would have been to take a bit of a break – since the last two years of studies were rather intense – to just keep working as a freelancer and take time to rebalance and invest in church and evangelism and student ministry. But there was this dream I had as a teenager and it never went away – I always dreamed of going back to Pakistan one day, as an adult, not just for a visit – but to stay, for a minimum of two years and give something back to the country and the school that meant so much to me growing up. Of course my childhood wasn’t perfect – there were things that were hard and I might even wish different – but I think that would have been just as true if I had grown up anywhere else. So at some point as a teenager I prayed about this and told God that I didn’t really know where I would live and work and build a family long term, but that maybe two or three years in Pakistan could be a stop along the way? That was about ten years ago. Now, as my studies are ending and I’m ready for the next step, I’m preparing to go to Pakistan for 2,5 years. I’m excited and happy to be going back after nine years and hope and pray that God will bless the road ahead and give me strength and wisdom for my new role and responsibilities in this post-student-life chapter.
So that’s also why things are a bit crazy – in the mist of my exam preparation for my Spanish finals I’m also preparing to move to Pakistan, praying for my Visa and thinking about how I’m going to say goodbye to Freiburg and Germany – a place I really grew to love and appreciate, despite myself! And a place where I was blessed to meet so many amazing people that became friends and classmates and colleagues and neighbours – and family. But that’s not really the topic of this post, because it’s still too early to say goodbye! I still have a couple months and have my own little bucket list of things to do before goodbye really does come. What’s on that list? Well, I won’t share everything…but here’s one for starters: I really wanted to go on a bike tour! Why? Because I love riding my bike and that’s one thing I won’t be able to do in Pakistan – and I must confess I’ve never really been on a bike trip longer than one day…somehow always found the task of organizing that too daunting…
But that’s what I’m doing right now. I talked with my brother about the idea and he had been thinking about doing a tour in Switzerland, in the end we decided on a 3-day tour along the Danube from Freiburg to Ulm via Donaueschingen and Sigmaringen. I’m super excited and happy to be on the road, getting plenty of beautiful landscapes, fresh air and exercise and just hope my bike holds out for the whole trip 🙂


Today was a light start of just 30km from Titisee to Brigachtal – I took a slight detour but that brought me to some really pretty villages and woods so it was totally worth it. Tomorrow should be about 90km til Sigmaringen and there’s some really amazing cliffs and rocks along that stretch of the Danube so looking forward to a beautiful day 🙂 and on Monday we’ll have about 110km from Sigmaringen to Ulm. Will let you know how it works out, but I’m confident that it will be a nice little adventure 🙂


  

I do

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Two simple words that can be used in so many different situations to mean many different things:

I do like strawberry ice cream
– just prefer chocolate.
I don’t know what to do.
I do love a good prank.

But said together, just the two words, the picture that comes to mind is a wedding scene: the wedding vows. Will you, Mr. Charming take this woman, Ms. Beautiful to be your lawfully wedded wife? To love and to cherish her, honour and keep her…for as long as you both shall live? Such a beautiful moment. I was recently at a wedding and kind of touched by the personalised vows the couple had written for each other. Especially the husband expressing his heart was so beautiful and somehow surprising to witness. He really really seemed to mean it. He was truly in love. I felt so happy for my friend.

But what do these two words mean?
I do. I do promise to love and to cherish this other person.
This Mr. Charming – who will undoubtedly not always be charming.
This Ms. Beautiful – who will not always look or act beautifully.
I do. I do promise to be there for him, for her – in the good times and the bad. Until death do us part.
I do. I am not taking this step lightly, I am trusting in God to help us both and want HIS perfect love and forgiveness to be the foundation of our relationship and marriage.
I do.
In German the phrase goes: Ja, mit Gottes Hilfe.
Yes, with the Lord’s help. With God’s help.

Can we not love without assistance? Why does God need to play a role in our marriage? Isn’t He like a third wheel? An intruder? A cause for strife and jealousy? Why include God?
Because He is the author of marriage – and the creator of both the husband and the wife.
And HE is the first love. The first Husband.

In my post Unfaithful love  I already wrote about how in the Bible, God’s relationship to us is compared to the relationship of husband and wife – and how often there is unfaithfulness on our side. On my side. But what does it mean that God is my husband? Why does God use that comparison? Why is marriage such a perfect and beautiful illustration for God’s perfect love?

Because God’s love is a love that seeks the good of the other person. A love willing to sacrifice. A love like the love described in 1. Corinthians 13: patient, kind, humble, not envious, not proud, not self-seeking. Keeps no record of wrongs. Does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. God’s love never fails. That is how GOD loves. And that is HIS DESIGN for marriage. He longs for us to love each other with the same pure, joyful, selfless and generous love that HE has for us. Imagine if all marriages had that kind of love? There would be no room for pride, for manipulation, for unforgiveness and bitterness. It would be a truly joyful and love-filled marriage. That is God’s heart for ALL marriages. He wants us to first experience HIS love – to understand what the love of a husband means for God. HIS heart. To really feel that love that is unconditional. And to take that love into our marriage. To let the unconditional love of God empower us to love our spouse unconditionally too. To love in the good times and the bad. To forgive and ask for forgiveness, even if it is humbling. To admit mistakes. To encourage and build up. To seek the best for the other person. To keep no record of wrongs. To always hope and trust and persevere. So that our love never fails and our marriage becomes strong.

But God first. God is wooing for my heart. God is lavishing his love and attention on me. God’s heart is like that of an expectant bridegroom – eagerly awaiting his bride!
He is so proud, so happy, so thrilled to see me walk towards him!
The king is enthralled by my beauty!
And he asks me – will you say ‘I do’?
Will you commit to this journey with me?
Will you commit to trusting me?
Will you commit to loving me?
Will you commit to getting to know me more every day?
Will you commit to protecting our relationship
and putting it above all else?
Will you commit to being faithful to me?
Will you commit to opening your heart to me?
Will you commit to letting me into your life?
Will you commit to not hiding anything from me?
Will you commit to not trying to cheat me?
Will you commit to staying, even when doubts arise?
Will you commit to fighting for us, for this relationship?
Will you commit to letting me help you?
Will you commit to letting me protect you?
Will you commit to letting me love you?

And with my heart beating faster than normal and my eyes moist and a joyous smile on my face I realise, wow, he really really loves me. And without hesitation I say ‘I do’.
Yes God, I say yes to you.

Whether you are married or single, God wants to be the first love in your life.
As a married person, if both husband and wife love God first – it is the best thing you can do to grow in your love as a couple, because God would never separate you. He loves marriage. Honestly. Get this: God LOVES marriage. He LOVES when husband and wife become ONE. He LOVES when husband and wife do daily life together. Cook. Eat. Work. Sleep together. Make love. Dance around. Sing off tune. Argue and work it out. Build marriage. Because marriage HONOURS God.

If the husband puts GOD FIRST: He will love the Lord his God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. He will love his neighbour as himself. He will love his WIFE like Jesus loved the church – by dying for her, giving everything for her!

If the wife puts GOD FIRST: She will also love the Lord her God with all her heart, mind, soul and strength. She will respect her husband and choose loving submission rather than nagging and strife.

This is not only true for married people.
Yes, God LOVES marriage – but that does not mean being single is second best and you should hope to one day be “promoted” to married. (If you’re interested in this topic I recommend the book “The single issue” by Albert Y. Hsu)

The single person who puts GOD FIRST: Will also love the Lord his God with all his heart, mind soul and strength. He will love his neighbour as himself. And therefore love, respect and serve the people God has put in his life with that same heart of love that God has – because in seeking God first, you begin to discover God’s heart and your heart becomes more like his heart.

God is faithful. God’s love is pure.
God’s love is truth and hope and light and peace and joy that overflows to transform not only your own life, but those around you.
God is waiting at the altar – like an expectant bridegroom – eagerly awaiting his bride!
He is so proud, so happy, so thrilled to see YOU walk towards him!
The king is enthralled by your beauty!
Will you say ‘I do’?

Discovering: High Class Camping in the Black Forest

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Camp site in St.Peter

A week ago I experienced another first: I booked a camp site for the first time in my life! It really was quite a mile stone, considering that I had been wanting to go camping forever and finally managed to plan it all. Two friends and I had been talking about meeting up during the summer and I simply suggested: let’s go camping. Let’s go to the Alps, let’s go somewhere in Germany – let’s just get a van and some camping gear and head off into the wild. That was the idea. And to my surprise and delight – the proposal was accepted!

A few obstacles did arise, as was to be expected. We had no van. Some of us had to get holiday off work at short notice. One of us had invited a guy friend along so we had to find a second guy to balance the guy-gal ratio. One of us had to study for her final exams and was a little bit stressed…but hey, obstacles and problems exist so that we can find clever and creative solutions for them! And so we did 😀

As I wasn’t able to get off work and was also the individual presenting her exam…we decided to choose a location that would make this possible: the Black Forest. Since I work as a tourist guide for the Black Forest and happen to live there, I took it upon myself to do some exploring and felt responsible for finding a suitable location in this beautiful forest for our adventure. In recent years I had only ever gone camping without a tent – just found a nice spot to put my sleeping bag and enjoyed sleeping under the stars (see previous post). It is harder with a bigger group and a tent – I would still have loved for us to give it a go…but it is sort of illegal in Germany…in the sense that you could get fined if someone took offence and had the authority to fine you…and you do need to know where to go. So I asked around for camp site suggestions, went on some hikes, visited a couple of villages all in pursuit of the perfect spot!

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one of the spots I found – an old sawmill. I’m sure it would make a great shelter…

To my dismay I realised that camping on an official camp site is not as “wild and adventurous” as I had hoped. There are luxurious washrooms (not that I’m against cleanliness…but you know) There is a fireplace to have a BBQ. There is a playground and often a village with bakery and bus connections or train. There are neighbours with lawnmowers. And the price is a bit higher than what I would have expected…my first reaction was – dude, I just want to pitch my tent on this piece of grass…how much is that gonna cost? In the end I spontaneously chose a camp site I hadn’t even seen. Why? Because my friends were gonna arrive the next day and August is high season – everything is overbooked. I chose the campsite in Kirchzarten – because it is quite close to Freiburg and would make going to work and attending my exam a lot easier. And it included a free ticket for the whole Black Forest (KONUS Karte) and free entry to the swimming pool. I know, that doesn’t exactly sound like wild camping – more like high class camping…but hey, you have to alter expectations according to the situation, right?

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Camp site in Kirchzarten

 

In the end, it was a really good choice! We soon fell in love with our new home 😀 I realised that camping on a camp site simply cannot be compared with camping in the wild – it belongs to a category of its own and has to be appreciated as such. You cannot go to a campsite and expect quiet and solitude and only the sounds of the wind and birds in the trees – its more like a little village with lots of neighbours and charming village life. Most other holiday campers had come with their caravan or camper plus giant house-like tents, had lots of cooking equipment, fridges, gas stoves and plenty of comfortable lawn chairs. Kids were running around with fancy scooters, playing games or being entertained by the daily kids program, which really was lots of fun to watch. Some campers even had a TV and were following the Olympics and watching movies. We had decided against the extra fee for electricity and tried to keep it as simple as possible – but didn’t mind enjoying the pool next door 🙂

There are some beautiful walks around Kirchzarten, but we ended up going a bit further and doing a tour near Titisee, visiting the Schluchsee and hiking up the Schauinsland (1284m). Will post some more pictures and holiday hike suggestions soon 🙂

And in case you were wondering, my exam went well – maybe not in spite of but because of the fun, laughter, hikes, swimming, good food and company that were all part of the special camping experience and managed to distract me and make me feel relaxed instead of nervous 😀 would do it again any day.

Loving at a distance

I’ve been thinking about how we show love to people we care about when they are not with us. When you love someone, you tend to smile when you see them, be generous with hugs and kisses (depending on who it is perhaps :D) and try to show in lots of little ways that that person is important to you. Maybe by taking the time to listen, to help out with something, to give advice or just spend time together doing nothing in particular.
What if you’re not together, though? How do you show love then?

I’ve witnessed several friends in long distance relationships and must confess that I found their daily phone calls a bit amusing. Seriously, every day? Is that really necessary? Don’t you run out of things to talk about? Don’t you have lots of other things to do?
But in a way, that is one thing you can do to show love at a distance: take the time to at least talk. Make that phone call a priority. Spend money on the phone bill.
They would also think of creative ways to surprise each other with a special card or a package, which honestly was pretty cute. But then love isn’t really just signs of affection, is it?

How about loving someone by being faithful? Faithful both to the relationship and faithful in the responsibilities you have.

How about loving someone by investing in working on issues you might have that burden the relationship? Becoming more reliable, honest, serving and kind?

How about loving someone by working hard in your job or studies and thereby investing in your future?

How about loving someone by working ahead so that when you do get to spend time together, you’re not stressed and distracted by all that needs to be done.

How about loving someone by praying for them and asking God to work in both your lives and to guide you in the relationship?

I think these things are just as important as a phone call or sending chocolates – and can really have an impact on how a relationship develops. They take discipline and are less “mushy-feely” – more practical and purposeful. But then that’s making love something that lasts and something that is seen and felt, even at a distance.

Thinking about love at a distance also made me think about my mom and dad. I went to boarding school for eight years – and my parents got really good at figuring out how to love at a distance. I didn’t always get it at the time, but looking back now I am overwhelmed by the effort my parents put in to love on us kids and show us that each one of us is important and precious to them. Not just through phone calls or E-mails – but also by making sure that the time we did spend together was real quality time. My mom would even prepare meals and bake our favourite cakes beforehand to make sure things were ready when we got home. That way she wouldn’t have to spend as much time in the kitchen. My dad would also organise his work in such a way as to maximise the time he could spend with us. Being on break, we kids would often sleep in while my parents would get up early to do some work and then have fun family time when we got out of bed. I sometimes wonder, would I be that disciplined? I hope so. I hope I would have that same love for my husband and kids to be willing to really make things work and invest in loving on them in every way.

Two days ago, I found a letter in my mailbox. It was a love letter – from my mom and dad and two of my brothers, congratulating me on passing my exams and graduating from University. The ceremony was just a week ago and no one had been able to come. I ended up being sick in bed. Not the ideal scenario – but I was happy, because as cheesy as it sounds, I knew they were with me in my heart. And when I found that letter, it just made me smile and realise how right I was. They told me how happy they are for me. How proud they are of me. They told me to celebrate and that they’re looking forward to seeing me soon. Thanks Mom and Dad. Thanks brothers. Thanks family, for being so amazing at showing love at a distance. We’re all spread out all over the world – but I always feel your love and support. You’re amazing and I love you all.

If you have more ideas on how to show love at a distance, feel free to share below 😀
We can all use some inspiration now and again!

Happy late new year

I know its already the end of January, but this being my first post in 2016 I will start with wishing YOU and me and everyone, a happy late new year.

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My last post was in October 2015, so here are five amazing/fun/random things that happened since then:

1) I was successful in my English exam 😀 it was a lot of work but I also enjoyed it, had some good topics and great professors. Thankful that it went well and glad to close a chapter.

2) I flew to Pakistan in December and spent time with my family over the Christmas break, which was really great.

3) I caught up on some film culture classics…finally watched Star Wars. Yes, I know, shocking I had lived almost 27 years without seeing them. But that has been remedied 🙂 Was great fun going to the cinema for the new one too 🙂

4) I got stuck in Istanbul for two days on my return flight…there were delays and cancellations due to the snow. I was cool though – my sis and I were put up in a 5 star hotel, I built my first snow man this winter (see picture) and we got to see a little bit of Istanbul 🙂 might share more about that another time…

5) This one is a bit of both past and future, a “has happened” and “will happen” – it looks like my time living in the countryside is coming to an end…I am seriously considering moving into a student residency. Its not official yet though, I have applied, but not yet been accepted. Will hopefully find out soon!

And what’s coming up this year of 2016?
GRADUATION!
yes, that is the plan. After what feels like forever I intend to finish University this year 😀
This will be after successfully passing my remaining final exams for biology (in the spring) and Spanish (in the fall).
So probably looking at November, then you can feel free to congratulate me and look forward to some change in this presently rather studious sort of nomad’s life 🙂