My safety net.

I am 28 years old, I am married, I have a regular day job, pay my bills on time. You could call me settled and I wouldn’t be upset. I have a good support system in Norway, in the US and in Austria. I figured that would be enough, but truth to be told, there are never enough safety nets. I have been places, I have done things, that doesn’t mean that’s all I will ever do, in fact, it actually means the opposite. I will never say no to an opportunity. I will always take a risk. That’s who I am, that’s what I love about me. That’s also why you find me in Lindau right now.

I’ve been in Germany for the past two weeks. Two mentally and physically challenging weeks. Two weeks ago I left Oslo with a bunch of Norwegian teenagers who were on their very first trip by themselves to a language course in Germany. Expectations were running high and so was my anxiety level. Just imagine, fourteen completely crazy families thought it’d be a good idea to entrust myself with their precious ones. Now I have one week left with them and I am planning to make the last week an unforgettable one.
Two weeks ago we all met early at the Oslo airport from where we flew to Munich. From there we took the bus to Lindau where the kids were greeted by their host families. After all I wasn’t going to stay in a hostel with that many kids for three weeks. The first three days in Lindau were far from easy. Food and sleep were limited and yet my energy was endless. I ran circles around myself, trying to go the extra mile or two whenever possible. I made friends with the other course leaders who brought their teenagers from Spain, Italy, Sweden and Finland and of course we quickly became close friends with the local staff.
It was unbelievably hot day in and day out and when it wasn’t hot it was pouring down like crazy. Apparently Lindau doesn’t have a middle ground. We went to Bregenz and Switzerland, traveled far and near to show the kids what Germany has to offer. Of course sometimes nothing runs smooth other times everything is just freaking amazing. We had talent shows and discos and planned many other funny activities. We are doing our very best day in and day out, but of course you can never cater to everyone’s needs especially the needs of 150 international teenagers. Emotions are always running high and our energy levels are increasingly running low.

The bonds that we, the staff, created with each other are sometimes everything we can hold on to, it’s our safety net. The safety net is important to have one when one of your kids suddenly falls ill or has to go to the doctor’s or comes home late and their host parents call you a few minutes before midnight. The bonds are also important when you see teenagers falling in love, celebrating birthdays and dancing until late at night. We stand strong, united and got each other’s backs as much as humanly possible.

Sadly, sometimes, no matter how much we try, we cannot take away the burden that we feel. For instance when we find one of our kids drunk in the city or when we have to say goodbye to individuals for various reasons. These moments are never easy, it’s heartbreaking, because we have to keep going, for the sake of the other kids. We can’t just give up, we have to stay strong.

So yes, this summer has so far been lots of sunshine, lots of drama, lots of laughter and lots of everything else that I did not expect. It’s been unreal, to say the least. But what I learned so far this summer is to rely on my co-workers. Trust complete strangers with all the small and big problems and cry on peoples’ shoulders, no matter whose shoulder. In life you can’t always choose the people you are surrounded with but you can choose to make the best of it and I can without a doubt say, that this summer wouldn’t have been possible without my safety net.

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