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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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!