Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Moien, 2016!

Dënschdeg, 12 Januar.

Moien! I am back in Luxembourg and wishing you all a Happy New Year, or e glecklecht neit Joer. (Maybe. Luxembourgish is really not my strong point.) Either way, I hope that your January is turning out swell and that you haven't written "2015" on any important documents of late.

Can you believe that it has now been four months since I first arrived in Luxembourg? It feels like yesterday, even though the memory of my first, oh-so-jetlagged car ride to Esch-sur-Alzette is beginning to fade. I still have over six months left until I say goodbye to Fulbright and to Luxembourg, but I know that the next couple of months are going to fly by. Even though we have only just come back from the winter holidays, I know that January will be jam-packed with exams at the university and new classes at the lycée and last-minute dinners with roommates. February, full of meetings and new roommates and the first academic holidays of the year, is already just around the corner.


It might be easier to ramble on about the challenges and highlights of 2015. But it's the new year and it is time to look ahead. (Even if the idea of planning past March 2016 gives me heart palpitations.) It is time to start reading grad school entry requirements, skimming job descriptions, and -- of course -- making resolutions. I have a lot of resolutions, per the ushe, and don't anticipate any of them to stick around long. But maybe typing them on this blog will make them more likely to come true. Who knows?!

In 2016, I am going to take better care of myself. Get plenty of sleep. Eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer gaufres. Exercise. Moisturize. All that good stuff. After all, I'm no spring chicken. (Seriously though, it only took one university student asking if I was 24 to mentally catapult me right into Little Old Lady Land. Eek!)

In 2016, I am going to read more books. (This is a long one, but perhaps my favorite. Stay with me.) I have loved to read for almost as long as I can remember and books figure prominently among my earliest memories. Even as my parents took us to the stuff of fairy tales (literally -- growing up in southern Germany has its perks), reading allowed me to travel further and to explore worlds beyond my imagination. It was at once comforting, distracting, and exhilarating. At some point between high school and college, this changed. As much as I enjoyed what I read for classes and research papers, books became inextricably associated with work and the concept of "reading for fun" outside of summer vacation became somehow foreign. This May, when faced with a stretch of four months in the wilds of northern Virginia, I turned back to books. At the beach after graduation, I devoured Anthony Doerr's All the Light we Cannot See and Irène Némirovsky's Suite française in a weekend. I renewed my library card and spent hours browsing the local library's selection before heading off to babysit. I checked out The Count of Monte Cristo. (I didn't finish it, but instead rewatched the movie. Nobody's perfect.) Now that I am settled in Luxembourg and the novelty of having access to Netflix in a foreign country has (mostly) worn off, I am recommitting to spending more time in front of a book than in front of a screen.

In 2016, I am going to be timely. No more of this "catching the last possible train to get me to Belval" business. No more delaying emails or responding to text messages two days later. No more setting four alarms because I know, I just know that I'll continue sleeping after the first three. No more procrastinating on blog posts and post-dating because I fell asleep on Tuesday night and had to finish the post on Wednesday.

In 2016, I am going to learn new things. First up? Lëtzebuergesch. It's going to happen. I'm going to learn it. It's been typed on this blog and it's going to happen. (Maybe.)

In 2016, I am going to make decisions. Not great decisions, or even good decisions (although that would be ideal). Just ... decisions. Decision-making -- that painful act of committing to one option and simultaneously rejecting all other possible alternatives for eternity -- has got to be among my biggest weaknesses. I hesitate when buying JAM, for crying out loud. Unfortunately, with the end of my Fulbright grant just over the horizon, I have a sneaking suspicion that I am drawing ever closer to a period of very important decisions. What do I want to do next? Where do I want to go? How do I want to spend the next fifty years year six months of my life? I don't expect to wake up tomorrow with a clear vision of my future and I doubt that I'll know what I really want to do before this year is out. But I bought raspberry jam yesterday without thinking about it. And maybe I can make a few more decisions, too.

And there you have it. My New Year's resolutions. They're not particularly earth-shattering and they probably fail to meet every requirement there is for practical goal-setting ... but hey. They're mine and I'm going to stick to them ... ish.

I am particularly excited to see what new adventures 2016 will hold. Although I cannot even begin to imagine what lies beyond July 2016, I hope that the next six months will provide me with enough travel, adventure, and excitement to last the rest of the year!

Since I've been here, I figure that I have done more exploring within Luxembourg than just about anyone I know -- including some Luxembourgers, who have shown mild confusion at my enthusiasm for their country's every nook and cranny. Although my Fulbright Bucket List is coming along nicely, there are still several places in the Grand Duchy that I am itching to visit. Next on the list? Clervaux, a town in northernmost Luxembourg with a castle and famous photography exhibition. Bourscheid, a one-thousand-year-old castle smack in the middle of the Ardennes. And Schengen, the town on the border of Luxembourg, France, and Germany where the Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985. And ... well, a whole lot of other places!

Although I'll be spending the majority of my time in Luxembourg (per the terms of my Fulbright grant), I do have a few dreams of international travel ... especially when friends and family come to visit! There are so many beautiful places that are hardly more than a hop and a skip across the border in France, Germany, and Belgium. I would love to visit Nancy and Reims in northeast France and seriously cannot wait to spend some time in the picturesque villages of Alsace, just an hour or two south of Luxembourg. And although I've spent more time than I ever imagined on trains between Luxembourg and Belgium, I've yet to visit Antwerp or Ghent -- two of the country's most popular cities. And why not dream big? London (to see the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour, and another thing or two). Rome (to visit my housemates, who have made refusal to visit them in Italy virtually impossible). Salzburg (to listen to The Sound of Music soundtrack, duh). Copenhagen (to like ... do whatever you do in Copenhagen, I guess). Who knows?!

PS. On a semi-related note ... want to contribute to my book list? I just finished Paula Hawkins' Girl on the Train and Robert Edsel's Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. If you have a recommendation, I'm all ears!


  1. Awesome resolutions! Let's do it! :)

  2. "The Nightingale" Kristin Hannah

    Je crois que tu aimeras...