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Follow-Up: A year of many changes and adjustments

Bremen impression
© M. Vu

"A year has now passed since I left New Zealand and returned home to Germany – a year of many changes and adjustments." - Former intern Manja reports back about the one year since she had to leave New Zealand on a repatriation flight. 

By Manja Vu

Home at last (sort of)

It was a strange feeling to be back in my childhood bedroom, five years after setting out from my parents’ home to discover the world. For me that involved going abroad, university study, and going abroad again. But the last point on that itinerary, my stay in beautiful New Zealand to complete an internship at Goethe-Institut, had come to a rather abrupt end. Now back in Germany, I had to get used to the fact that not only was there a pandemic spreading around the world, but I was back in a city that was home in the sense of where I came from, but not as in “where the heart is”. In the years before leaving for New Zealand, I had not spent much time here – occasional trips home for Christmas and birthdays at most. My real home, the place where I had spent most of my time, was somewhere else:  


So after three months at my parents’ place in northern Germany, I returned to Cologne, as my adopted home. Whereas previously I had always wanted to get away from Cologne, I was now happy to be back there. But this was only a temporary arrangement, I told myself. Back in my room in the flat, back in my old life (almost), my first task was to get acclimatised and get some sort of everyday routine going. But the main point of moving back to Cologne was to finish my degree. My bachelor’s thesis was calling me, begging me to finally get it written. The three months planned for that task soon turned into six – and the “temporary arrangement” of living in Cologne is still in place today. What I have learned from this last year is that nothing goes according to plan.
  • At Home in Bremen © M. Vu
    At Home in Bremen
  • The Cologne Cathedral © M. Vu
    The Cologne Cathedral
  • The Germans’ new favourite hobby: going for a walk © M. Vu
    The Germans’ new favourite hobby: going for a walk
  • From time to time I get together for a coffee with Ricarda, a friend I met during my internship at Goethe-Institut © M. Vu
    From time to time I get together for a coffee with Ricarda, a friend I met during my internship at Goethe-Institut


Covid has now been part of our lives for more than a year. In spite of all the twists and turns in the situation, particularly at the political level, we now accept the virus as part of our everyday lives. Some people are more badly affected, some less so. Jeff Bezos, for example. I feel I am in a very privileged situation, as having a home and a secure income, even if I have not yet reached my dream destination. My next step will be to embark on a career in my chosen occupation, ideally in Berlin. I have always been attracted by Berlin as a city. Within the German-speaking countries in particular, I think that Berlin offers me the best opportunities to develop myself, both professionally and personally. 
But I’m not putting any pressure on myself. The pandemic has taught me to be spontaneous and flexible, because everything can change in the space of just a few days. Even if the world has come to a standstill for a time, things can only get better.