Expat Diaries: one year in Germany.

It has been one year since I packed my life into 3 suitcases, said goodbye to my friends and family, gave up a comfortable salaried job, and headed to mainland Europe with absolutely no idea how I was going to make a living. It is the single biggest risk I have ever taken in my life, especially considering the high levels of anxiety and depression I was already experiencing in early 2019.

Winging it has never been my thing. I like to have a firm plan in place. I once walked out of a job with nothing to go to, but I was still living at home and was therefore comfortable enough to allow myself that privilege (although I can’t say my mother was thrilled!).

Despite always having a plan, I also love to throw myself out of my comfort zone. I have some very inspirational friends to thank for that. So occasionally I say yes to spontaneous things and then immediately panic about the consequences. Which is what happened when Zac asked me to move to Germany with him. And yet here we are. Still.

One whole year.

I am honestly amazed I made it this far.

In January of this year, I was experiencing mass rejection from job applications. No company wanted to hire me. If you’re looking for the rags to riches “so I just decided to become self-employed and that’s how I made my millions” story then look away now because this is not one of those. 

Firstly, I don’t have any niche special skills to become self-employed. I’m not a specialist. Secondly, I really didn’t have the energy to discover how to go self-employed in Germany. 

I was busy trying to deal with a new language, a new way of life, and shops closing one Sunday’s! I was honestly crushed that I wasn’t even getting interviews, let alone job offers. 

I became massively depressed. The magic of my new home had worn away quickly and I was left cold, angry and sad. I started to hate Germany. I’d read so much about how prosperous the German economy was, and how it was a nation of immigrants. But I felt like I was being pushed out.

At the start of February, I was seriously considering moving back to the UK, with or without Zac. I didn’t want to. What with the mess the Tories have made of the country over the last decade, a visible rise in racism and xenophobia and Brexit looming ever closer, I didn’t particularly want to be in England either. 

But I was out of luck, and out of money. 

I needed to make a decision.

At the end of February, my luck changed and a company finally took a chance on me. However, I  still did not feel safe. If anything, my anxiety levels increased from there.

What depression looks like
What depression looks like.

Zac had been dropped from his initial contract after 4 months and I was on 6-month probation, so I knew that I wouldn’t feel entirely comfortable until that had been completed. Then two weeks into my new job, Germany went into a partial lockdown and I started to panic that I would quickly be let go. It’s always easy to get rid of the new girl, right?

I find it quite fitting that my 6-month probation ended at the end of August/beginning of September, coinciding with my one year anniversary here. So I am still employed, and I am still here.

I feel more comfortable now and I am learning to slow down and enjoy moments of joy wherever they may appear.

I have accepted my new life. 

But I’m not completely happy.

It has been ten months since I last saw my friends and family. Ten whole months.

I miss them terribly. Sometimes, when I think about it too much, it physically hurts my heart.

So here are a list of things I miss.

Hereford Cathedral stands tall and magnificent
Hereford Cathedral

My beloved home city of Hereford.

Crumpets, decent baked beans and a good strong cup of Yorkshire tea. 

Being able to talk fluently in my native language, and not sounding like a 4-year-old. 

The convenience of a 24/7 supermarket.

The widely available range of vegetarian and vegan foods (god bless Linda McCartney)

Cider. I didn’t even like cider that much. But I miss it. 

God, I even miss the UK office culture. 

But I do often wonder if I really miss it all. My friends and family, of course, are a no brainer.

But do I really miss everything else? 

Or is it just nostalgia? That longing for comfort and ease.
Everything is always more comfortable at home. 
But being comfortable has never allowed me to grow.
I work best under pressure.
So the saying goes.

Where now?

Well, as easy as it would be to return to home comforts, I am here. I am employed. And I can feel myself growing and learning and slowing every day.

I can’t quit.

And so, we move. 

I want to end this week with a fitting quote from the wonderful Morgan Harper Nichols. I have only recently discovered Morgan’s work, but I am in love!

bis zum nächsten Mal / until next time,

Steffi x

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