Towards the end of my time in Florence, I was getting very homesick. It's hard to even admit now because I would do anything to go back and live there again! However, I had lived there a few months, and was really homesick. I missed my friends and family, but mostly I missed my sisters. (this was before Skype or FaceTime was popular). The first weekend of November, my friend Kim from Germany (we met when she was a foreign exchange student at my high school), asked if I wanted to visit her and her family. I was reluctant for a few reasons (being a broke college student was one of them), but in the end decided to take the overnight train to see her. I arrived very early in the morning at the Stuttgart train station; the sun hadn't even come up yet, and the station was deserted. She was standing there waiting to see me and holding a leash with Lena (her Bernese mountain dog) on the other end. I gave her and Lena a hug, tired but happy to see such excited faces. We drove in her car to the bakery so we could pick up some fresh bread for breakfast that morning (side note: Germans know bread. They are bread artists if you will). Kim was chatting away and I remember watching the sunrise as we pulled up to her family home with Lena wagging her tail to get out. I was greeted by her parents and Kim showed me to my room for the weekend. It was a lovely space on the top floor perfect for my stay. Kim had put DVD's of "Sex and the City" in my room in case I needed some American TV. After showing me around the house, we sat down for a typical German breakfast of soft boiled eggs, German rolls, and a variety of cheeses. Kim made a pot of tea and we drank every last drop while talking and catching up on life. It was during my conversation with her and her mom Sabine, that I realized how happy I was. This was exactly what I needed, time with my "sister" and some time with my "mom." My heart could not have been more full with love and comfort, and instantly my entire outlook on the rest of my semester there changed for the better. I had the most wonderful weekend there, hiking in the hills of Stuttgart, shopping with Kim and her mom in the local boutiques, and dining out with the whole family (including Lena!) at a beautiful local restaurant. It was the most wonderful feeling to be "home" again. Even as I looked out the window on the train back to Italy, I held in my hand a letter from her dad Eberhart, thanking me for coming out that weekend and giving me a little money for the trip home like all wonderful dads do.
I was fortunate enough to have their whole family attend our wedding in Italy this past May. Kim was with me when I was getting dressed for the ceremony, and her father was the first to give a speech at our wedding dinner. I believe that people across the world are connected in so many ways, and you can find family and comfort when you least expect it. I am so blessed for my friendship with Kim, and so happy to know that I always have a place in Germany that feels like home.
Sabine's art studio
Kim and Lena
Hiking in Stuttgart
My beautiful German sister
An incredible and loving speech at our wedding