Firstly, I want to say sorry. Sorry if we got off on the wrong foot. To use the classic line, ‘it wasn’t you, it was me’. Because Lübeck was my year abroad city, it represented being away from home, uni, family and friends, and at the start, it was hard living there for those reasons. But after a few weeks, once I’d started to settle, I realised that Lübeck was the right place for me.
Lübeck is the hidden gem in Germany’s crown. I only heard about it when I found out where my placement would be! It is the biggest city in the most northernly state of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein. This city was the perfect size – not too big, not too small – but definitely with plenty of things going on. There’s the two rivers, the Wakenitz and the Trave, either side of the city centre island, where there are boat tours. Some of these boats go to Travemünde where the beach is! There’s also the seven spires of cathedrals, churches and the Holstentor, whose image is synonymous with Lübeck (so much so, it’s the featured image of this article!). It is even part of the logo of the world famous Niederegger Marzipan, which originates and still is made in Lübeck. There’s a huge shop, with its own cafe and museum, so you can learn about, sample and buy the local delicacy.
At Christmas, this place comes alive! Twelve Christmas markets were packed into this small city, all with different foods to try, decorations to buy and drinks to taste. Living in the home of Christmas for the north of Germany and for many Scandinavian visitors, made me feel very lucky and it was an incredible part of the year.
I had so many amazing moments during my year abroad in this city, with some equally amazing people, who I met along the way. For some of us, it was the first time we had lived abroad so we could share experiences and understand each other’s feelings. But there were also others who had lived abroad before, one in Lübeck, so they became the font of all knowledge of the city and how to live abroad. We usually met up on a Thursday night, which was ‘Jumbo Cocktail Hour’ all night long at a local bar and chatted about our weeks at our schools and usually made plans to travel somewhere together at the weekend. Having this support system around me helped a lot through all the ups and downs that come from a year abroad.
Sadly, I had to leave Lübeck abruptly in March before the lockdown started, which meant I didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone or buy anything to keep as a memento of the place. But, as the saying goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I can guarantee that I will return to Lübeck one day, as I do miss it a lot. Also I miss the things I had there. Not physical things, but things like independence, freedom and wanderlust. These are the things that I’m sure most people miss from their years abroad and lockdown has heightened the want and need for these even more.
I know I will visit Lübeck again. I hope it isn’t too long until this happens, but who knows right now! All I know is Lübeck will always be a part of one of the hardest but best times in my life, and I am so grateful for that.