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Traveling abroad: A home away from home

Lockport resident and Lockport Retailer freelancer Rachel Fuerschbach met relatives for the first time in Germany during her semester abroad in Italy. Pictured, Susi Fürschbach, Rachel, Volker Fürschbach and Harald Fürschbach.

BY: Rachel Fuerschbach | April 10, 2014

Ever since I was a little girl I had dreamt about going to Germany and seeing where my ancestors came from. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to feel so comfortable in a place so foreign to me.

In my journey, I found a home away from home. Germany, for me, was a relief from the stressful life of Florence and as my week in Bischoffen slipped away from me I found myself never wanting to leave.

“Do I have to go back?” I found myself asking.

Maybe it was the similarities Germany held with my life back in the states — the open fields and nature all of which are non-existent in the city center of Florence. Maybe, it was the family — my family — whom I met for the first time and welcomed me in as if they knew me all my life that made me debate whether or not to come back at all.

Never in my life have I felt so in place when I should have felt out of place. I was in a different country with a different culture and language after all. I didn’t though, I felt like a piece of me belonged there and that piece of me didn’t want to leave.

I spent the week solely with family, seeing the views over Eiershausen and Eschenburg where my ancestors have originated from, and meeting endless amounts of family members. It was more than what I had expected and better than anything I could have possibly imagined.

The Fuerschbach family line started with Henry (Jost Heinrich Fürschbach) Fuerschbach, a civil war veteran that immigrated to the states from Germany in 1853 at the age of 26.

It was my grandfather, Raymond Fuerschbach, who was interested in genealogy and traced our lineage back and eventually tracked down relatives in Germany with the same surname as our family in the states. It was those same relatives who I stayed with during my spring break here in Europe.

I’ve never been interested in genealogy — at least not on the same level as my grandfather or even my aunt who furthered the search through my grandmother’s side — but I have always been interested in family. In fact, family plays a huge role in my life.

I am always the happiest when I am surrounded by family — these people who are genetically programmed to love you and to share this unique bond with you and the rest of your family members. It’s almost like this secret society formed by birth and marriage.

My family lives all across the states, so it is very rare for me to see a majority of them, but when they do come into town it’s as if no time has passed. I don’t feel like I am talking to strangers, but like I’m talking to people who have been there all my life. And strangely, that’s how I felt when meeting my family in Germany for the first time.

Some family members couldn’t speak a lick of English and other’s English wasn’t formed that well, but that didn’t stop any of them from trying to communicate with me.

For those who couldn’t speak English, others translated for us. For those whose English wasn’t that polished I sat patiently and waited for them to try to get what they were saying across as I helped fill in the blanks.

When members began to speak German back and forth, I didn’t feel left out — in fact I felt amazed by the language and inspired to learn it sooner rather than later so I too could communicate with the family members who didn’t know English.

For the first time since being in Europe I didn’t miss being home in the states. I didn’t wish for the weeks to go by faster. On the contrary, I wanted the week to go by slower — I wanted more time.

Maybe this is what makes Germany so appealing for me — having this whole other family that I can be a part of and get to know. I didn’t go to a foreign country during my spring break — no — a little piece of me went home.

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