Seventy days ago, we stepped on a plane in Portland and got off in Frankfurt. We had divulged ourselves of nearly every person, routine and object that we had relied on for thirteen years. People talked about how exhilarating change was, but I was emotionally and physically drained. There we were, at the bustling airport with our six suitcases, waiting for a friend in a rented station wagon to carry us the last couple hours to a tiny village outside of Stuttgart. Every day has been a whirlwind since then!
I’ll talk about reality versus expectations, all the parts of my daily life that are the same and the many that are different and wrestling with a foreign language. I’ll talk about why we decided to move in the first place. But I’m not going to talk TOO much about any of this, because I am working on a memoir about my move.
Why haven’t I written before now? Because I’m TIRED. Moving across the globe is EXHAUSTING. Complete disorientation is draining. Everything you do that was once second nature is a mystery. The simplest interactions require me to script out everything in my head. Only now am I not hibernating like a fat bear for over ten hours a night. I’m usually an extremely light sleeper and six hours a night is what I normally need.
Moving to another country and being an immigrant, even if for only a short time, is an experience I can recommend to every person. You will never know yourself so well as when your mother tongue is useless. (Let me dispel one myth: everyone in Europe does NOT speak English, especially in small villages!) This experience has filled me with compassion for others and for myself. I had most every advantage in moving across the world, except a job waiting for me and a company-paid move. I decided when and how to move. I had time to sell as many of my big-ticket items as I could. We had a large, tightknit family ready to welcome us. They did amazing legwork, like finding us an apartment in a famously tight rental market and showering us with second-hand goods. I had been exposed to German for over two decades, having taken courses throughout high school and college. I’m not fluent, but I am by no means a beginner. I come from a first world country and I’ve attained a graduate degree . Given ALL that, moving here was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Although it’s getting better, I’m still homesick and confused a great deal of the time. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be for refugees. I’m here to tell you, even when you have it easy, it’s not easy at all to leave your home country.