Germany Thus Far: 3 Years, Can It Be True?

It was shortly before my three-year anniversary of living in Germany when I realized it was coming up. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been here that long, but the calendar says that it is true!

So in the past year, what are the most significant things I’ve done?

1. Got a Job in Munich

Since I handed in my Master’s thesis in early September last year, I also had to get a job. I started applying in July of last year and was very lucky with timing, as I then started working in October.

The challenges of transitioning from academic life to work life are enough to begin with. Add in that I somehow did it in another country, succeeded in changing over my residence permit, and moved to the city (I’m not a city gal), well… That’s pretty impressive for me personally.

Do I love working more than I loved studying and doing research? Nope. But hey, I guess that’s part of your first few years working; you learn what you like and what you don’t.

2.Visited the Family

It was September 2015 when I moved to Germany, and throughout my entire Master’s program I could not afford to make the trip back home. Therefore, going home last December was the first time in over two years that I saw my family in person. It was also the first time in two years that I used US dollars, that everyone I spoke with had a Midwestern accent, and that I was surrounded by American flags everywhere I went. Yes, I suffered from reverse-culture shock.

LOZ

It was a nice little adventure to go back home, although it was the dead of winter. At least my Grandma can’t be upset that I always miss the holidays since I finally made it for Christmas!

3. Distortion in Copenhagen

After several years of A telling me about Copenhagen and how great it is, I finally went. The first few days were filled with bike rides around the city to do all the touristy things. The second half of the week was all about the electronic music festival.

While it’s true that Copenhagen is quite expensive, the city has a great vibe, amazing architecture, and delicious food. I even had my first bagel in several years (my life without bagels is very sad, indeed). Copenhagen is pretty spectacular, one of the few cities in which I can see myself living happily, albeit probably broke.

4. Another Trip to the US

So the trip that I was not planning to make was to head back home in the middle of summer. Living away from home when someone in your family is in poor health is pretty tough. I eventually got to the point where it didn’t make sense to keep stressing in Germany when I have a regular paycheck that can get me over the ocean to check in with my family in person.

Although it’s not what I planned, I now remember how flaming hot and humid Missouri gets in the summer, and why Missourians actually need air conditioning. A more pleasant part of the weather was walking barefoot through a summer storm to pick up my aunt’s car.

Family’s all okay now, too, in case you’re wondering.

5. Isle of Skye

The first trips I made to Scotland were back in 2014, and I documented them on the blog. (Read about them here and here.) Those two trips led me to falling as much in love with Scotland as I already was in with Ireland. One thing that A and I have wanted to do for several years now is to make it to the Isle of Skye. This year was the year to do it.

We rented a car and attempted Ben Nevis before going on to the Isle of Skye. That trip was an absolute dream, and the cool weather was dearly cherished after a brutally hot summer in Munich. I’ll eventually write about it here, but for now, I’ll just say that I can’t wait to go back to Scotland again.

Learnings

So those are the big things, but my international adventures are not the entire takeaway. Here’s a short list of some things I learned this year.

  1. Skiing is not for me. Tried that in Austria on a company ski trip, and the conclusion is that I will just skip straight to sledding and hot cocoa.
  2. I need to put the plant down, and walk away. I now have… seven plants? I think it’s seven, maybe there are more… Having a green thumb doesn’t go away just because one moves abroad!
  3. My German has gotten better. In fact, a few weeks ago I made a trip to the foreigners’ office and spoke in German during the entire appointment with the Munich bureaucrats.
  4. I need to plan a lot of hiking trips. Since I didn’t painstakingly plan out any options, I didn’t end up going on any. I tried to be a bit more relaxed, but it seems that being a planning freak does lead to more adventures into nature.
  5. Legal residence doesn’t get easier with time. In fact, the bureaucracy is so large that it even lost my file, resulting in multiple temporary permits and a long wait until they find my file before they’ll process the application that I already submitted. Never-ending story, this residency thing.
  6. December is too short, and there are too many Christmas markets to visit. Last year, I tried very hard to experience some new markets because I have had a love affair with them since my personal discovery of Christmas markets back in 2014. This year I will have to map out every one that I want to visit and be a bit more calculated in my excursions (and my Glühwein fund).
  7. Forcing myself to live in a city does not mean that I will learn to like it. Nine months into living here, and 12 months into working here, Munich still isn’t my favorite place. If anything, it’s more of a headache. If only I could find Munich-style jobs in the mountains….

Seven seems like a perfectly arbitrary number at which to pause here. So I guess that’s a wrap on year number three in Germany. I don’t really have a lot of plans for the next year yet (apart from Christmas markets), so let’s see where life takes me!

Cheers!

Uhm… Bye?

It’s 10:38pm US Central Time. I’m leaving tomorrow. Cue weird emotions about moving abroad for two years!

I’ve worked most of the summer (and Target and Ross were awesome!) but I finally became unemployed once again, which is very strange for me as a workaholic. Since I stopped working I’ve been doing a lot of preparatory chores like going to the bank, cleaning out my room so that my aunt can use it to study while I’m gone, and getting more contact lenses for the next year.

Aside from the chores, I’ve also been trying to have some fun. This past weekend I went to Springfield, Missouri to visit some friends. I went to Cider Days, which is an apple cider festival with music, crafts, and such. I enjoyed that quite a lot, especially the Fruit Loops scented candle from Shelly’s Smellies. This candle really is hilarious.

In the evening, I went to the Missouri Food Truck Festival. Once again, there was live music and such, except in lieu of crafts and cider, there were food trucks. I ordered a wonderfully delicious Chicken Tikka Masala Pasty from London Calling. They also have a shop in town that is open Monday-Sunday. Definitely worth stopping by!

Apart from that, we went to a really nice bar. No idea what it was called, but I enjoyed it. I caught up with quite a few people I haven’t seen since high school, so it was somewhat weird, but also very cool.

After I got back from Springfield I had dinner with my sisters who were super ecstatic about their band contest this past weekend. Monday was more relaxed, mostly consisting of errands. Tuesday I had some great food and company at El Caporal in Camdenton, where I went to high school. Their food makes me so happy. Along with Pepperoni Bill’s Pizzeria on the square. I’ve known him since before he opened up shop, and he’s a great guy with a knack for making delicious pizzas!

Wednesday we planned a family photo. You know, because I’m leaving a long time and people might die. I’m not kidding; my grandma has told me too many times that she thinks she’s going to die. But she’s been saying this since before I was born, so you take it with a grain of salt.

Yesterday, my sisters and mom came over so we could do light photos by the lake. They look this this:

SistersUSALight

Today I wrapped everything up, finished packing, watched my sisters perform one more band show and awkwardly said goodbye to people.

It was kind of weird, talking to a good friend and hearing him say, “You’ll have a whole new life next week.” I will, but I guess it’s not so different from that time I moved halfway across the country to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley for four years. Except this time I won’t come home on breaks, and I won’t speak the language, and I have never even visited the school, let alone the country I’ll be in.

I’ll keep you all updated, but I may not be posting much for a while until I settle in to my new home and manage to get the wifi working in hopefully another week. Love you all, and depending on where you live, I may see you in two years, and I may see you in two days. So… Bye, USA?

Cheers!

The View One Year Ago

One year ago today, I stood with the other international students from Ulster University-Jordanstown. We lined up to take in our first view at Giant’s Causeway.

It was sunny, fairly warm despite the sea’s cool breeze. We walked down the path, poured off of it, and began exploring a bit. I remember standing alone of the edge of a cliff and thinking, “Wow… I’m really in Northern Ireland.” The realization crashed into me like the waves crashed into the rocks below me.

It’s always a shock to actively realize where I am. I first got that feeling on Cannon Hill in Staunton one night after watching a sunset. I felt so at home, but also startled, realizing I was in one of the most unique and charming little towns in the country.

The second time I got it was in Oaxaca, when I was in my host mom’s house listening to the musical language of Spanish, that I could suddenly not speak a word of, and feeling like I left my stomach on the plane. There, it was more of a terrifying realization. Thankfully, once I overcame that first night, I settled in well.

And the third time was Giant’s Causeway, a year ago today. That feeling continued through the day, and it recurred throughout the several months that I studied at Ulster Uni. Something about consciously thinking about my place in the world during those three months was incredibly powerful.

Two Weeks on the Emerald Isle

Thinking back, I wouldn’t change a thing about that gorgeous day in Northern Ireland. So here’s to another year of (mis)adventures, getting lost, and falling down on my rear end (which I did at Giant’s Causeway and most outdoor excursions, because I’m talented)!

Cheers!