Living abroad is: crazy, funky, cool, scary, confusing, fun, frustrating, dramatic, and above all else, adventurous. Some days suck, especially when your German isn’t awesome OR when you are the only one in the room who doesn’t speak a certain dialect. No, it’s no one’s fault. Yes, some might say it’s your fault for not learning the language fast enough and not trying hard enough. But let’s get something straight- all expats are different. Some find it easy to immerse themselves into a foreign language and excel at the challenge. Some are more timid, and prefer to dip their toes in the water before getting in. I’m the latter.
As I said, all expats are different and they didn’t all come here for the same reasons either. And that can affect how some obtain confidence, while some don’t, or they do much at a snail’s pace. You have these ideas of how it’s going to be, and how you will do everything when you’re over there. But once you’re there, it’s a totally different story.
This past year and a half challenged me, tested me, and taught me a lot about myself I didn’t know before. Back in America, I was incredibly confident, arguably arrogant, regarding my personality and capabilities. I knew what I was good at, and how to get what I wanted with limited resources. Over here, I have no idea what I’m doing quite often. I’m not sure what I’m good at that will allow me to get hired easily, I’m not as fast at learning a language as I was, I don’t have the same drive and ambition that landed me a job in NYC one month after arriving in a bad economy, and I get confused easily. I don’t know how to argue with people who step on me and push me aside so I don’t say anything, but back home- oooweee watch out for my temper.
So yes, some things suck….BUT I’m kinda happy. I’m happily married to someone who thinks I’m funny and helps me when I do stupid things like tie myself into my wrap-around sweater. I get to cook and bake and experiment, which I think is really fun. I can read my American news, and watch my American shows. I can walk outside and go to a farmer’s market and I can basically communicate with people. I still smile at the Germans, even if they think I’m mentally impaired for doing so, and I know that I will start taking German classes again so that I can fit in and find a way to be who I am and want to to be in Germany. Maybe, right now, I don’t have “it” all. But I have all I need right now, and who’s to say I won’t have it all at some point? I’m making progress, and that leads to happiness, and happiness leads to confidence, confidence leads determination. And once I get down that path (Star Wars reminiscence aside), I know Germany won’t conquer me.