They say travelling is a form of education. I learned more than I ever could about myself, my family, and German culture on my recent trip to Germany.
I was particularly impressed by the fachwerk (timber-framed) homes in Quedlinburg, a town in East Germany. Quedlinburg feels eerily quiet — it's as if the presence of East Germany's communist history has been encapsulated there and still remains.
I also visited Braunschweig, a town where my sister resides as an English teacher. One night at dinner, I was outraged by the constant stares we received by other guests at a local restaurant. I quickly forgave them, realizing that we were indeed foreigners in a small German town. I became instantly grateful for having been raised in my diverse, immigrant-rich city, Toronto.
And then there was Berlin. I was sick in bed half the time, and I wish I got to see more art, eat more food and visit more colourful "pockets". I'm all about visiting a city's cool little pockets! A short stint to Kreuzberg, a neighbourhood outside of Berlin proper, showed me that hipsters do exist anywhere in the world. This made me feel somewhat in my element.
It was so awesome to experience everyday German life with my German-speaking sister by my side. I was so proud of her German skills! Our forever goal was to learn languages and travel the world; she's achieved this, and it is something I still aspire to do. This trip has shown me once again that time with loved ones is forever invaluable, and that life is freakin' short. I would not trade this experience for anything in the world.