Now that I’m leaving Germany soon, I’ve been reflecting on how my life has been in Germany for the last 5.5 years; more specifically, what I would have done differently if I were to do it all over again.
It’s always better to know how to communicate in the dominant language of whatever country you’re living in.
Otherwise you run the risk of feeling really isolated.
Particularly in Germany, where the culture is more reserved when it comes to making new friends. This is not a bad thing, just different from what I’m used to.
Change #1. STOP COMMUTING!
Martin and I spent a lot of time living in an economically-depressed city. This in and of itself was not horrible, except we still didn’t get to experience the city because we were commuting long distances everyday. When you move abroad, things are already difficult enough. You don’t have to make it worse by having complicated commute routes that pull your attention and energy away from doing more productive things, like learning German.
Change #2. Focus on learning German. Punkt.
I mentioned I took an Integrationkurs in my last entry. That was during my research term of grad school, meaning I was also writing my thesis. Not the best time to learn German, as German isn’t a language that can be easily picked up (at least not by me!).
One of my Canadian classmates pushed his thesis so far back, and graduated much later than everyone else, just so he could learn German! I even referred him to my old work place for a full-time job with travel (not that work-travel is a good thing), but he turned down their offer just so he could stay put to learn German. He speaks German so well that when I met up with him, he naturally started speaking to me in German!
This is a guy who is prepared to live in Germany long-term. He prioritized learning German and now reaps the benefits of living in Germany here comfortably. Compare that with me, who is always trying to leave.
Change #3. Stop obsessing about €€ money €€.
Before I moved to Germany, Martin and I talked about finances. We weren’t married but he was more than happy to support me financially by paying for our rent, food, and giving me spending money. Basically, I had a sugar daddy! Except, I never wanted a sugar daddy and felt REALLY uncomfortable about it.
Instead of being relaxed and learning German like I should have, it made me extremely focussed on finding a JOB. So I focussed on finding a job and then when I found one, I had to drop out of my German classes to work. Fast forward to 3 years later, and my German still hasn’t improved and has maybe even gotten worse.
Writing this out makes me a bit regretful about leaving Germany, which also makes me confused. On the one hand, my German proficiency is poor, but our net worth has gone up by a lot because I was also earning an income that we invested 100%.
That is pretty powerful stuff, and to be honest, if I were to do it all over again, I would probably do the exact same thing! Which kind of negates the whole point of this entry. 😕
Instead, I should re-frame everything:
Having a higher net worth makes us feel comfortable with Martin quitting his job so that we can take off and be Vegan Nomads. It also makes me more relaxed to learn German, and in fact, we are planning to speak in German abroad, because less people speak German so it’ll be nice to have a ‘secret’ language between us.
Us leaving Germany in 6-months doesn’t mean we will never return. Who knows, we may end up living here again. By that time, my German should be awesome!!