My roundtrip ticket was bought and my one backpack was packed. After returning from my year abroad in Germany (2005-2006), I never really settled back in. Going from two languages to one and missing my bicultural daily existence, I took the plunge
and decided to move abroad again in 2009 – back to Germany. I didn’t want to look back years later and think “if only.” Worse case scenario: I come back in a year with one less “what if?” in my pocket.
Fast forward one year: “Yes, I would like to cancel my return ticket, no I do not want to push it back. Thank you.” And it was done…I was staying in Germany. Now the tough moment to tell my family my one year was going to be a little longer.
As soon as I cancelled that return ticket, I knew that daily life was going to look much different. It was no longer living from week to week or month to month, living on the minimum in order to travel as much as possible – blind booking one weekend, another spontaneously flying off to Spain or Scotland. Bread was now on the menu to stay. It is truly a funny feeling when you have no clue how long you will live in another country. (Maybe it is the same moving to another state – I do not know – I skipped right over the entire U.S. and landed on another continent.) At first, you buy the bare minimum combined with an eclectic furniture collection of roommates of the past. You have a prepaid phone because a two-year contract is too much of a commitment (salespeople don’t seem to like the comment “I have no clue what continent I will be on in two years”).
Within a week I was signed up for a Master’s Degree Program at the University of Tübingen, had a new winter coat, a two-year mobile phone contract and was sleeping on my friend’s couch…
to be continued over the course of future posts…
Globestrolling is about transitioning from a globetrotting nomad to taking life at a different pace and perspective. It’s about finding a balance between integrating and learning to understand the nuances of the culture I live in without drowning out my own identity in local cultural expectations. It’s about laughing at how your language evolves – the one of your host country improving while your native diminishes – whether it’s transforming into an amalgam of Germlish or Denglish, the jury is still out (Geschmackssache!)
For me, this experience is what I fondly name, learning to love bread. I’ve never really been a huge fan, but it is now heavily incorporated in my daily life and found on every street corner. And well, tortillas are hard to come by. It signifies transformation: as a nomad, it is about the unleavened bread / tortilla adventure. When establishing a home, there’s time to let the dough rise, to continuously delve deeper, discovering the nuances in daily private and professional life. We all have the opportunity to become like Sherlock Holmes: finding those case-cracking clues in what otherwise seems mundane.
And why globestrolling bee? Real life doesn’t always stop when you move abroad. It’s still busy and can be overwhelming at times. So the globestrolling bee is about balance: bees buzz busily about – and I am not exception – and at a stroll, you can truly take in the world, observe it from a café, hands cupped around a steaming cuppa while the rest rush by.
It’s about shifting down a gear and taking another glance, shifting points-of-views, asking questions before fully forming assumptions.
To provide you with a map through the forest of my thoughts in coming posts:
In “Cultural Honeypot”, I explore trying to get the balance right between adapting to a new culture while letting your true colors come through. It’s also full of humorous encounters, curious questions, and well just take a peak.
In the “Professional Buzz” you can read more about working at a large multinational company in Germany, from my experiences as well as others here in Germany or Germans working abroad.