One thought accompanied my during my second term at the University of Tuebingen: I will soon be off to the States! Especially when I had to do some readings I did not enjoy that much or when trying to finish desperately some assignments I always told myself that in September I will start a new adventure. I knew that this new adventure would be challenging (as I have been through the whole application process of the University of Washington and for the visa I definitely know that it can be stressful and nerve-racking), but still I would explore a new city, meet new and hopefully fabulous people and just live a different every-day life.
Little did I know that I would come to experience such amazing moments beforehand.
One main reason to apply for the MA Peace Studies and International Politics at the University of Tuebingen was its excursion with the Peace Boat, a Japanese NGO that would go around the world with about 800 Japanese tourists to learn about different cultures and to meet people from around the world. However, when I finally had the chance to participate in this excursion it somehow did not seem to fit in with my concerns which were all directed towards finishing my essays before leaving for Seattle, moving my stuff back to Goettingen and preparing for my studies and stay in the States.
So when leaving for the excursion with around 20 fellow students I was more or less in the mood of “I will try to make the most of it”. And indeed the first day in Izmir, Turkey was really exhausting with only 2 hours of sleep and the heat knocking me off. Yet, from the moment we arrived in Kusadasi and boarded the Peace Boat until the very last day when getting off in Civitavecchia, Italy I learned what it means to be amazed, inspired, and moved with every new day and every new meeting.
I was crying out of joy when dancing salsa while the ship was shaking, singing Justin Bieber and One Direction on deck when leaving Malta, laughing with my fellow cabin members or during dinner, and loved running after all the cats and dogs in Izmir. At the same time, and I mean this literally as there were sometimes only moments between enjoying the time with friends and being totally absorbed and put down to earth by unbelievable moving stories, I was crying out of despair about the injustice and unbelief about what one person can endure. I was touched by the stories the Afghan refugees in Greece or the refugee from Eritrea on Malta shared with us, by the testimonies of the Hibakushas who despite experiencing the consequences of the Atomic bombs were still full of energy and hope for a better future, and by the human rights activists, coordinators, language teachers, volunteers I met on board and on land. All these people made these seven days very special and I feel inspired and am impressed by the work and impact of these people.
Last but not least, I am really thankful to my fellow students with whom I shared everything – a cabin, moments of laughter, moments of sadness, the food, medication against mosquito bites, photos,… I really enjoyed being part of this group and sharing my thoughts (you know I can talk a lot!) with them.
So what stays? Besides the pictures I take all these impressive encounters, conversations, and stories with me to the States and wherever it will take me afterwards. Before I even got to start my new adventure in Seattle (and it is going to be adventurous as I have no accommodation yet!) I had a once in a lifetime experience. Before Seattle…there was the Peace Boat!