As a now former college student, I give myself an A+ for being able to make and achieve short term goals. Do homework for next week. Start and follow through (nevermind how last minute) on a research paper. But now that finishing school was just something else that I checked off a month ago, not just some nebulous idea still looming over the horizon, I find myself slightly at a loss. Now I need another goal looming over the horizon.
In high school, I successfully created a goal like this: live in Germany someday. Now that I’ve just managed to accomplish both this goal and that of finishing school at the same time, I’m doubly due to find something else to look forward to. To scheme for. To dream on. Long term goals are somewhat harder to grade, though. You never know if it was a good idea until long after you’ve achieved the goal. So, I suppose I could pose myself the question: Now that I’m here, what I am going to do?
In the short term, I do have concrete goals. Find housing. Establish a lifestyle that no longer needs to revolve around getting next week’s homework done or integrating studying into academic breaks. Okay, maybe that one might take a bit more time.
In the long term, perhaps I need to transistion to a new question word. Why? To some degree, school and college have become simply a fact, something that “everyone” does. It has led me to where I am now in no small degree. Why did I want to live in Germany? That’s somewhat more difficult to answer, though I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that I took German in high school, was and am fascinated by the culture, and have German and Pennsylvania-Dutch heritage. But, I bet there are many people on the eastern seaboard and in the midwest who can say something similar.
This idea is something that occurred to me nearly a year before I even applied to be an exchange student in Germany or had spent more than three days in that country. Certainly, I was very into geneaology in middle school and am still at least mildly interested in visiting the myriad places in Europe where my ancestors lived. My mother terms my move as a sort of ‘reverse immigration’. Perhaps this is a kind of personal search for the ‘American dream’ and an extension of it in global terms. As our world has offered more ways to connect to more places and people, I think that our goals now also have the capacity to break out of the confines of a limited place and group of people. However, I do think global movement is a recognition of how human contact and relationships can spread. This could be seen as somewhat cautionary as well, though, because it is quite possible to spread too thin. Relationships must be nurtured and this is certainly much simpler in a less globalized situation. I am now dependent on e-mail, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, assorted other Internet-based connections, a Europe-only cell phone, snail mail, and face-to-face interactions to achieve communication. For a random person who grows up in a small town, goes to college within a 30-mile radius, and then gets a job within a 60-mile radius of the college, the invisible methods of Internet communication are perhaps still useful, but are surely not as essential. I recognize that I have become rather dependent on the Internet to occupy me from day to day, to tell me what is going on in the most remote places around the world – places I may never see in person.