During the second half of December, I was able to spend some much-needed time at home with my family.

Allow me to be a bit candid here. I’ve lived abroad before and I’ve effectively lived alone. I didn’t have any anxiety about moving back to Germany. But I was unprepared to struggle in some of the ways that I have the past few months.

It probably has a lot to do with leaving a situation of high emotion so abruptly and completely in September. Needing to immediately jump into lessons, it was much easier to detach from thinking about home and to avoid reflection than to stay engaged. Unfortunately, that detachment bled into some facets of my social and academic life as well. Curiosity became a slippery thing I could only hold onto for so long. It became difficult to focus my thoughts enough to write for myself, let alone for an audience.

Breaking routine facilitates breaking habits. Every time my routine is disrupted — ending a semester, moving, taking a vacation — I reflect on the habits I want to maintain and the habits I want to be rid of. Traveling home disrupted my routine enough to give me the opportunity to create a new one when I came back.

That being said, I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs in a darkened room over here. I have accumulated a collection of thoughts and experiences from the last few months that I will lovingly relate here, albeit late, over the next week or two.

To end this rather short post, I have two small German language stories.

The first is a moment I had with myself while I was reading the ingredient list on my potato chips. For those who don’t know, I’ve been a vegetarian for the past 3 years. To my shock, I saw Hefeextrakt listed and thought, “Oh my god, my chips have cow extract in them.” Sometimes English words jump to mind faster than German words, even when I’m expecting German. Fortunately, I promptly remembered that Hefe is actually yeast, and my potato chips were safe to eat.

The second is a fun expression courtesy of my friend Stephan. If you’d like to excuse yourself from your company to use the bathroom, you can say, “Ich muss mal für kleine Prinzessin.” In English, “I have to for the little princess.” You can even be creative with the object of the sentence. Maybe this time you have to for the kleine Königstiger (little Bengal tiger), or the schüchternen Bär (shy bear). When I use it with my German friends I tend to get uproarious laughter, but they always know what I mean!