If at First You Don’t Succeed …

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. …try try again. Yes, but is it really wise to keep trying in all situations? Not always. I can remember at least one time from my past, when I wish I had not been trying again. I would have saved myself and others a lot of trouble. I will call it the ‘Göttingen experience’. I have been writing about it before, but it keeps coming back in my mind. Apparently I will have to write about it until I really get over it.

I was a diligent student of German language and literature in Slovenia, my home country. Naturally, I wanted to spend a semester in a German speaking country, attending classes at a foreign university. Despite all my 4-year-long endeavors, in my last year of BA studies in Slovenia I still could not speak German fluently. I kept stopping in the middle of my sentences and checking, if they were grammatically correct. Therefore I thought that a semester abroad would help me in this respect. I also had this general wish to study abroad, at least for a semester, for which I do not really know, where it came from. From being too ambitious perhaps.

Half a year before departing for Göttingen, a city in Northern Germany, I had been walked out on by my boy-friend. The pain was still strong half a year later, but I did not want it to prevent me from travelling north. Thus, in October of 1996, I arrived in my dream university city and all I could feel was depression and anxiety. I arrived on my own and not like most of my classmates, who had arranged a semester abroad in pairs to keep each other company. I explicitly wanted to be alone, for I wanted to speak German all the time and not chat in Slovene with a classmate from my home country. Talk about ambition!

Being heart-broken from home and lost all alone in a big university city I fell ill in a fortnight. An episode of schizoaffective disorder bipolar type set it. Needless to say, I returned home the same month I had arrived. But my family had to come fetch me twice! I sent them packing the first time, telling them I was doing fine. They drove 4 thousand kilometers for me all together.

But my wish to study abroad never ceased. A year later I arranged to study closer to home, but still abroad, in neighboring Austria, in a town called Graz. I fell ill the first month as well. So I returned home, but managed to come back to Austria heavily medicated. I attended classes, which I could not follow due to bad concentration, but I was there – till the end of my coveted semester. What for? Just to make it happen, at all costs and without any positive effect. Not to mention the worries of my family due to everything I put them through. I am still ashamed, after all these years.

You can read more about my insanities in my book about balancing bipolar Balancing the Beast.

Take care,

Helena Smole, author of:

– a fantasy novel with romance Vivvy and Izzy the Dwarf: A series about relationships

Balancing the Beast, a book offering a bright view of schizoaffective disorder ˗ bipolar or manic-depressive type

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