Before I begin, I want to make sure of the fact that this is not a blog post meant in a contrite tone. Rather, this turns out to be a reflection of my stay in Stuttgart as a student for over 2 years now. Reflecting on what could have been better. Reflection on how better I could have made the most of my stay here. If you have already stayed abroad for your studies, a few of you may be able to relate to many things and a few of you may relate to fewer things. Subjective are the situations. And, so are the perceptions. Speaking of perceptions, there has been a major overhaul now after staying outside India for almost 3 years now. I look at the world way differently than how I used to a few years ago. This might change a few years later. But, as long as it is changing, I don’t mind. As I am certain of the fact that my thinking is evolving and rightly so.
Fortunate enough to have had a chance to study in Stuttgart and live in this beautiful city, undoubtedly, I have had a great time. Met a lot of people and made amazing friends. And, not to forget my travel across Europe. Did my time here hold on to the fantasy I thought it was before coming here? Well, I am unsure of being completely affirmative there. For my use of the word ‘Fantasy’ explains that. Nevertheless, with all the excitement fairly grounded now, there are certain things I wish I had done differently. Not that I repent, but, you know, would have been amazing had I done these things as well.
Started early with my German lessons
I sure did. The first lecture I attended, in fact, was an intensive German course. Would have made the difference had I realized how important this was going to be. I did have a world of new things to ground all my ardor. When you stare at the cashier at a supermarket blankly when he asks you ‘How would you like to pay?’ the realization strikes and it strikes hard. If you are here as a student, it is really necessary that you understand and speak a bit of German since you are likely to stay here for quite a decent period of time. However, I did take my own sweet time to realize the importance of speaking the local language and how I wish I had started a bit early.
Been more with locals
In the pursuit of getting our thoughts exactly the way we mean every time we speak to someone, we tend to hang out with those of our community quite often. Community could mean anything. Not listing it. In my case, the Indians being plentiful in Stuttgart, I used to hang out mostly with Indians for quite some time. Not that this is bad. But, again, unless you mingle with the locals, you would never understand how things work here. As long as you stay on the campus, it doesn’t matter, but, you eventually have to get out and face the world. When I did, I sensed a different world. Why? Well, I was getting out of my comfy cocoon and was quite not seasoned to confront the real world.
Hitchhiked and couch surfed
There are some things you can do only when you are young and independent. Hitchhiking and couch surfing, in my opinion, qualify as a couple on the list.
The idea did seem quite strange to me and to date, I have only been wishing I had done it. While my preferences keep me from daring something of the kind, the bewilderment keeps any surprises at bay. If you have time and no preferences, pick a sleeping bag and get going. If you do not, express ‘how you wish you had done things’ (like I am doing) to your friends. Life today is nothing but organized uncertainties. I admit, at some point, we give in.
Made the most of Stuttgart’s nature
In a recent survey, Stuttgart was recently ranked as the least stressful city in the world. I am not sure I’d second that without any hesitation or bias. Nevertheless, one of the reasons Stuttgart made it to the top was because of the green cover in and around the city. I totally agree with this. Especially living in the beautiful Vaihingen campus with Pfaffenwald 100 meters from my room. Although, I started my jogging sessions through the forest last summer, How I wish I had started a little earlier. It is an amazing feeling to jog through the woods and breathe no harm into your lungs.
Made the most of my trips
Travelling around is something that most of us make sure of when we are in Europe. Like most of us, I follow the same sequence. Decide on a place, book my tickets, get there and roam around with no idea of the history of the place, buy some souvenirs, get back, flaunt my travel with posts on social media and sleep. Travel is supposed to make you wise. But, trust me, that would make not make you any wiser. Such a plan would just make you tired. Instead, what I wish I had done was to read about a place in advance before visiting the place, understood more about the culture, tried the local cuisine and you know, did the local thing.
Been more vigilant of the opportunities
By opportunities, I do not just mean jobs here. I mean all those opportunities which would have made my life richer (again, not just in terms of money) and my stay more meaningful. Often were days when I did nothing but watched a couple of episodes of my favorite series and been a couch potato. I wish I had not lazed time and been more cautious of the ever-unforgiving clock.
Well, that is it. Excuse me if that sounded like whining about my enduring friendship with procrastination. Another thing above all of the above is that I wish I had started without any expectations. Really, mounted up expectations on anything that is about to happen does little good. End of the day, what matters is how content is your life in your perception. If you snatched the authority of making memories from your mind and surrendered it to your camera, give it a thought. Who are the pictures for?