I’ve never been very good at goodbyes. I tend to get all choked up and teary eyed. While I’ve said goodbye multiple times before during various moves, this was by far the hardest. There’s something about the bond you form with people when you’ve moved to another country and are surrounded by people who have done the same. When you aren’t surrounded by friends and family back home, those new friends become closer than any family that I’ve ever had
However hard all of this has been and will be, I do still believe that it will be worth it. I know there are bigger and better things ahead for me, but I think the key in all of this is just learning to take the chance. In my opinion, life should be all about opportunities…what experiences and lessons you can learn, if you will. Every experience will be a learning one, whether you realize it in the moment or not. Moving to Germany, I knew I would learn a lot, maybe even completely change my outlook on life, but I don’t think I was really mentally prepared for how much would be learned through living in another country. I’ve read all sorts of online articles about the difficulties of returning back home after living the ex-pat lifestyle, but it still didn’t prepare me for the change when I got back
Moving again just means more lessons, more hardship, but also more rewards. I believe every difficulty prepares you for something harder, and every hardship creates character and allows you to learn how to handle more in life. Comfort zones are broken down and you realize just how strong you can be when pushed to do something you previously thought was impossible.
Obviously, I’m still adjusting. I’m still getting used to being around a whole different breed of people again. I’m sure I’ll write about it more later, but the German lifestyle and the Texan one are very much opposites. It’s hard to explain this to people who haven’t traveled or done much outside of their hometown bubble, but I’m sure that even people who have visited another country for a month or so can relate. If I’m honest, I completely prefer Germany over Texas. I feel that the way people live over there is much more in tune with the way I want to live my life. I could go on for ages about the differences, but that’s a whole other topic entirely.
So Germany, it’s not really a final goodbye. I miss you terribly. I’ll see you later.
When I started this blog, I fully intended on writing at least twice a week. Once a week would have even been a decent goal. Writing one time twenty days ago does not really fit those intentions.
I’ve had the week off thanks to the family I work for leaving on holiday. I treasure this quiet time more than I ever imagined I would. I get hours to spend skyping friends and family back home, all the time I can dream of to write, and a quiet house to myself. Just as an example, I typically wake up in between 6 and 6:30 for work, but I got to sleep in until 11 today. I had a lazy lunch complete with a bowl full of mango and pineapple left over from a late-night snack last night, played some music as loud as I wanted and actually sang along, and now I’m out on the second floor balcony watching the sun set while I drink a coffee and get more writing in. While I was cooking up an easy dinner (mozzarella and pesto grilled cheese- hooray simplicity!), it occurred to me that I have been living in Germany for exactly 6 months today.
When I first moved here, I didn’t know a single person. I knew the smallest handful of words, but nothing that would be helpful in communicating with any German speaker. Most importantly, I had never lived further than a day’s drive away from home and had no idea what living in another country would entail. Although I know many people probably saw this move as a way to escape from reality and the problems that had been haunting me for a few years back in the states, I truly believe it was the best decision I could have ever made for a multitude of reasons, including these:
I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone
When you move to another country, you leave your old life and habits behind. I’ve always been an extremely picky eater, as any of my family members can attest to. While I realize trying new foods may not be a big issue, it’s a huge one for me. I eat more vegetables on a daily basis now than I did in several months back in the states (but no mom, I still cannot stand broccoli). I’ve also had to learn to put myself out there in terms of getting to know people. As a textbook introvert, small talk and making the first move when trying to meet people are two of the most uncomfortable things I can imagine doing. However, not knowing anybody meant that I needed to put myself out there and make friends. I’m just happy the people I met felt inclined to invite me along when they went out.
I’ve become more financially responsible
I’ve said this before, but an au pair makes a very very small paycheck. The job is more about experiencing life in another country than building wealth, which I was aware of getting into it, but what I wasn’t aware of was how expensive it is to live in one of the biggest cities in the country. I typically spend at least two days or nights a week doing something in the city, so I’ve had to really learn to budget my money to allow for all of the dinners and drinks spent out with friends.
I’ve expanded my world view
When you move out of your country for the first time, especially one as present in the media as the United States, you get a lot of different responses when you tell people where you are from. You get all sorts of questions about your opinions on every topic imaginable, and it can come as a bit of a culture shock when you have to explain certain beliefs or practices that are commonly welcomed in the states. As just a singular example, when the American spy discovered in the German parliament scandal broke, I really had to put myself into the German mindset to understand how they must be feeling. Perhaps it can be attributed to our history in the Cold War or the overwhelming obsession that Hollywood seems to have with espionage, but while discovering spies in a government-type environment was a bit shocking, it didn’t seem like a huge deal overall. However, the German experience with spy networks was very different than the American one because of the division of the country after the second world war, but it wasn’t something I had ever really thought of until living here and seeing how private most of the German lifestyle is.
I’m learning to be more independent
While I’m still not very proficient in the German language, I can understand enough to survive at a grocery store, restaurant, or wandering around town. I’ve learned how to navigate public transport better than I had imagined seeing as I had never lived with public transportation prior to six months ago. I can figure out solutions to my problems easier than I knew possible, and traveling by myself is an incredibly exhilarating experience. shameless plug- make sure you’re following my instagram in the next few weeks as I get to visit Paris, Lugano, and Alaska!
I haven’t written much about this on this blog, but until late last year, I had been struggling with severe depression for several years. It caused me a myriad of problems, including extreme weight gain, terrible body image, staying in unhealthy relationships, and just a general dismal outlook on every aspect of my life. While moving halfway across the world isn’t the only positive change I’ve made in my life since last year, it’s certainly one of the biggest. I’m still working through some of those issues, but I believe completely removing myself from that atmosphere was a huge help. Even though being an au pair definitely isn’t in my future for several years, I am appreciative of the lessons I’m learning through all of this hard work, and I know that the discipline I’m learning will pay off for the rest of my life. I’m growing up, and I’m happy in the direction that growth is taking me.