So, this is it. Once again, one huge suitcase is packed and closed, the room is clean, terribly white and strangely empty. The pictures are gone, the self-painted drawer changed location to my neighbour’s room, the flowers disappeared. It is time to go.
Mannheim was a place I ended up choosing absolutely randomly, as it is the case for many life-changing decisions. I came here to study and I did get my degree indeed but this turns out not to be the biggest gain. I had here an incredibly intense, student life. I learned to deal with German language, to understand this specific culture, to value the people. I made friends, I settled for a while and I managed to feel almost at home in my small cosy room. Living in a student residence showed me how different people are, how beautiful a community can be and how much human beings seek each other’s presence. I learned that ‘career’ has many shadows of grey and that things like ‘success’ and ‘happiness’ are not really black and white either. I learned to study hard and to challenge myself, I learned to deal with pressure and to keep the right balance anyhow. I discovered the hidden mysteries that Mannheim carries, I grew to feel familiar with its streets and alternative scene and I ended up full of warm, nostalgic feelings.
Some days in Mannheim I felt like I knew everything. I felt right about the path, sure about the reasonable choice of the prestigious university, experienced enough to make my way through it, old enough to decide what I want, proud of my brain and skills, opposed to the mainstream business student stereotype, supportive of big dreams and entrepreneurial world-changing attitude, breathing with my whole chest while running by the river in the foggy morning.
Some days in Mannheim I knew nothing. I was not sure where to go, which yoghurt to buy, how much to spent on travelling, where to live, why I can’t be better in some things, how everybody here are being their best and brightest, if I should spend more time on maintaining friendships with the distance, why sometimes I can’t be more organised, whether the single life or the double life is everything, what priorities guide my choices, how much time can I spend on reading, how much should I open myself and my heart and when will people understand that getting rich does not equal getting happier.
You know what is still the best things about it? It smells like chocolate. (If you were German you could see it as another reason to complain about something, but seriously, can you imagine something more magical than chocolate smell everywhere around the city just before the dawn?)
Once again, I can be only endlessly grateful for every wonderful human being that has crossed my way, for my colleagues, flatmates, friends and everybody who has taught me something along the way. There was a lot of happiness receiving and I hope I made as much of its giving as possible.
Now I am going one step further, knowing that there are even greater things waiting for me somewhere down the road. I will say goodbye to Berlin this weekend, celebrate Christmas with my family in Poland, make a quick stop in my beloved Madrid and then take off to South America, to discover and explore a new continent.
And one more thing that you can learn in Mannheim, which is everything but not attractive on the first glance, is that you really need to watch the world with glittering eyes because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Here goes a music video made by my talented friend Irina Rutz, our last project in Mannheim: