Reflections: one year abroad

So call it writer’s block or anxiety about the passage of time but it’s been a while. I’ve officially been abroad for a year and two months now. However, It feels like it’s 5 years, not one…be aware this is me rambling and trying to make sense of that year. 

One year ago…

I left Windsor airport one year and a month ago with a large target suitcase (of which all the zippers would shortly break) and my H&M boots (one of which I’d leave behind in an Airbnb). I had my hiking backpack strapped on and I was about to topple over. There was nothing else for me to do in the states but I also had no idea what was ahead. I was more anxious than I would have cared to admit but more than that I was beaming with excitement. I had some preconceived notions of what living abroad would be like and what France was like. What I didn’t know was how different it was going to be studying vs. teaching abroad. This eventually turned into living abroad and living in yet another foreign country.

I know I’ve had an immense amount of personal growth this year, but I haven’t really felt it yet. Maybe I will when I go visit home where nothing really changes at all. I also feel weird about the changes back home and watching them from a distance but that’s a whole other story. This was a year of feeling extreme peaks of happiness and the lowest of the lows. Things are so much more stable now and for that, I’m so grateful. I think some kind of stability is what I really needed.

Study abroad or even TAPIF is not working and living abroad

The trial period of adulthood is officially over for me. College was a good experience, it was better than good it was great. College was also expensive and temporary. My study abroad experience almost 4 years ago was blissful and not at all like living/working abroad. At first, it broke my heart that those bonds and feelings made back then were so strong but ended up not having a long duration. TAPIF was another delay on the real world and a chance to get back to France. However, things went the opposite of the way I thought they would. In being post-grad I’m feeling a weird distance from college friends and those from home. On the other hand this kind of weird isolation while trying to make friends in a country where you don’t speak the language can be difficult. Although most Europeans tell me that after that their friendships are meaningful and more long-lasting then say those in North America. I was elated though to meet up with some old friends and study abroad friends this past year! It’s definitely special to have a reunion with friends abroad especially those who you had that bond with.

Now I’m a real adult with a real salary and that means it’s time to get my life together right? So I’ve been trying even though I still feel a bit mentally exhausted like all the time trying to function as a full-fledged adult. I’m definitely taking better care of myself. Obviously still stumbling all the while in German. My overall help health obviously being an ongoing thing I’m continuing to work on. I still have a crazy sleep schedule and anxiety and like the worst eating habits. With all things, it should get better in time I’m making up for how I didn’t take care of myself in college.

Deutschland

Living in a country where you don’t speak the language is a bizarre and freeing kind of experience. I never thought I would live in Germany or that I would be here even a year ago but it was a pleasant surprise. As I was searching for jobs towards the end of my time in France, I was mainly looking at UK, France, and Germany.

In a way, many things are easier here. Different for sure but easier in some ways. I think Germans are warm and kind, not cold. French people aren’t cold either but it’s sort of exhausting to function in French society. I’m not overly critical of my very basic language skills. Whereas in France I put some much pressure on myself to speak French perfectly. Then in my job and my situation being stressful and in a bought of depression. I kind of stopped caring to give myself a break.

I guess the culture in Germany is similar to the states so that also makes things easier. If I could complain about anything it would be Deutsche Bahn trains always being late and some packages getting lost in the German post. I still feel sometimes like an outsider but working with Americans helps and now that I’ve been here 6 months it definitely feels like home. Every time in France I can so clearly hear all the Germans since I guess that’s what my ears are used to these days.

Almost time to visit home…

I’m still kind of pinching myself once in awhile. I ended up so lucky in the end even though I had a really hard time in France and being an assistant. I couldn’t have imagined that things would have turned out the way they did.

Being two-ish years post-grad is a weird thing because I feel behind and ahead at the same time. Since I finished school right on time so many of my coworkers are decades older than me. At the same time, many my friends European and the like are still in school. I’ll be starting an MPA (Masters in Public Administration) either in the spring or following fall! I just need to decide if I want to take German classes and how many first. So, for now, I’m still getting used to working full time and all that comes with that. All the while trying to take care of myself since I have the time and resources for that. I want to continue to blog and maybe expand the subject matter a bit more beyond travel to personal and lifestyle stuff. I’d like to write guest blogs as well and maybe collaborate.

I’m coming home to Michigan for a two-week visit in less than a month! I’m having some mixed emotions but above all ready to eat a jimmy john’s #7 (no tomato add grey poupon). Oh, and see friends and family too. 

xo Liz

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