A New City And A New Perspective

I’ve been living in Ulm for almost two months now. It’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast. You might remember my last post about this not-so-smooth transition. I had hit a low of too many changes in such a short amount of time. Changing your name, address, country, marital status, and daily language in just a few months can do that to you. Pile that on top of moving in with seven strangers in an apartment that my most recent visitor compared to living in a horror movie and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an emotional crisis.

emotions expat life

Source: Giphy.com

I spent the first week doing exactly what you shouldn’t do, which was stay inside my tiny room and mope around. Then I got to leave for a week to go on a long-awaited girl’s trip to Prague with a few of my best friends. Traveling always lifts my spirit and so I started to feel better about this new opportunity.

Before you know it, I was signed up for a German class in the city. I was fairly nervous because I had tried to start a German class before and it was a disaster. The class environment was all wrong, it seemed like no one actually wanted to be there. Then the teacher laughed in my face when I said that German people were nice and she had the class join in and share why they don’t enjoy Germans.  This was a deal breaker for me. I just won’t subject myself to a class where the teacher is willing to stereotype an entire people group in such an unfortunate and untrue way.

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purple flowers garden

Eight Months in Germany

I’ve officially been living in Germany for eight months. It’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast. It feels like just the other day, I was imagining what my life would be like here. I’ve decided in honor of my eight months, I will share a few things that I’ve learned so far in the past 240 days.

1. Being an expat is a lot different than studying abroad

Sydney Opera House Australia

My first study abroad experience in Sydney, Australia

I’ve had a lot of experiences abroad. I studied abroad in Australia and lived with other Americans. I studied abroad in Spain and lived in a homestay. I did my entire master’s degree in England and lived in an international dorm. On my various travels I’ve been a backpacker, a vacationer, a visitor, a tourist. But nothing quite prepared me to be an expat. It’s a unique experience that I can’t really equate to any of my former trips abroad.

I think one of the differences is that this is more permanent. I actually live here and I don’t know when I will be home again. There are also no forced activities that you often have to partake in while studying abroad. While it was annoying to have to wake up and go to class, it provided an opportunity for making friends and seeing the city. Now I really have to rely on myself to meet people or participate in new activities, which has proven difficult given that my German is not quite up to conversational level yet.

It’s not all bad though. I like having my own freedom and not having my schedule dictated by those in charge of the semester. I feel more settled than I ever did while living temporarily abroad and more at home in my own apartment. Having a German husband has allowed me to hang out with locals and spend all of my time with people from this country, rather than just hanging out with other Americans while studying abroad. And I get to live my own life that I’ve created for myself, which is a rewarding experience.

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