I’m grumpy. It began yesterday evening and has unfortunately followed into today (because I woke up at 4:30 by a massive mosquito near my face), and so instead of being all complainy-face about it, this entire post will have pictures/memes of minions I found roaming the web throughout.
I cannot thank readers and blogs enough for their advice on how to cope being lonely abroad. I will respond to each comment, I just have let it sink in. I did get quite a few messages that told me to stop being a whiner and suck it up, which may be what I needed to hear…. Nevertheless, let me give it to you straight- my husband is German, he is not always good at translating things for me because he forgets often, and he also doesn’t understand our cultural differences (which I can’t complain about because I don’t always understand them either!). But he, unlike most Germans I’ve encountered (not all, just most), does appreciate that I do speak a different language, and that I do come from a different culture and he respects that. I love that about him.
But I moved here from Harlem, where there were block parties every Saturday, this older lady would hug me every time we saw each other at the mailboxes (and not in a creepy way, but in a motherly-nice way, and also she’d give me cookies, I LOVE COOKIES!), and it was a big black community that I fit into (yes, I am black/mixed, and Germans automatically know that I’m not from here and treat me accordingly). I never felt that way before…. that was the first time I felt that people looked out for me, accepted me, said hi in the grocery stores, and would reserve a pint of rainbow sherbet for me at the 145th location, and I could walk home in NYC at 4 in the morning while feeling 100% safe. I once I saw a kid mug a woman carrying her baby and this group of guys chased after him, got her purse back and walked him to his Mom’s house by his ear where you can bet a whooping was in store for him. The next time I saw that kid he was ladling out soup at the Salvation Army. This was a community.
I’ve been here in Germany for less than 2 years now, and I still don’t feel like I belong here. I don’t see people that look like me, or that come from where I come from. And ANYONE can relate to that— you get so used to being able to communicate with other people and being surrounded by your own culture and friends, that when you find yourself unable to communicate the way you want to, and with no one really to communicate with, YOU FREAK OUT. But it’s not a deal-breaker.
I moved to Germany for love, and not all expats can relate to that, some wanted an independent adventure, just wanted to get away, had an international job and some did what I did. Compromised my life and career for a chance of true happiness, only to find that true happiness comes with work. My success or failure is all on me, and I can’t be lazy about it. So many people said- once you learn the language you’ll feel more connected with Germany. There is truth to that, but then it’s not nearly enough. Like all expats, I learned and continue to learn high German, but my in-laws speak dialect…. the point is- you are never done learning this language, the nuances and the rules. I’m not European, I wasn’t exposed to these languages regularly – so I’m at a disadvantage, yes, but that just means I’ve got to work harder at it.
Now I’m here and I have to fight my inner rebel; that part of me that doesn’t like being told what to do, whether it be conforming to what’s around me or going full force into learning a language I must learn. I’ve always known this side to me too, the only person who could tame it was my Mom, usually by finding the light at the end of the tunnel while pushing me into whatever I was rebelling against while promising snacks and rewards for my good work. No lie, it worked. I’m not sure how to self-push/self-motivate without her, which is another problem within itself.
But it’s still not a deal-breaker. I’ve got hard work to do, I’ve got to push myself through it, make friends, try harder, stop feeling defeated, stop whining, and find a way to be myself here without having to apologize or feel even more isolated.
Thanks for reading!