nature field summer

To Settle or To Roam: The Expat’s Dilemma

I’ve been doing my fair share of complaining lately. Particularly about how unsettled this season of my life has been. On one hand I am living the dream in Germany, but on the other hand I am struggling to keep up with the constant changes.

I wonder what my life will look like in two months, six months, one year, and I honestly have no idea. I don’t know where we will live or what I will do for a living or even if I will have finally mastered this new language. Thinking about this often leaves me frustrated.

But then I think about the alternative. Knowing that I would be in the same city, same job, same life for years at a time. And I realize that scares me too. I might be equally scared of both change and complacency.

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Grocery Store Bananas

Trapped In A German Grocery Store

Today I got trapped in the grocery store. Yes, that’s right… the grocery store.

I was in line with C (my husband), when we realized that we had forgotten something. I went back into the store and when I returned it seemed like 50 people had gathered out of nowhere. I could see that C was almost at the register, but I wasn’t able to get to him without asking at least 10 people to move. Now on a good day, I would have bravely marched up to the long line and used my mediocre German skills to explain I needed to pass them. Unfortunately today I just decided to stop, stare, and panic.

Kaufland Germany Grocery store

Kaufland: A German grocery store

I attempted to get C’s attention but that didn’t work. Then I went to exit down another aisle, only to learn that in Germany the empty aisles are locked. When C finished checking out, he came over to the other side of the locked aisle and asked me what I was doing, to which I replied, “I have no idea.” I then had to go back through the entire store and exit through the entrance while setting off multiple alarms.

This was one of those days where instead of feeling like an expat, I felt like a big, green, alien that everyone was staring at and wondering where I came from. I think that is one of the most challenging and also rewarding experiences of life abroad. There are times when I can’t complete the simplest of tasks, like shopping at the grocery store or ordering at a restaurant. I have to allow myself to make mistakes, get messy, and learn how to live life in a new place.

Trust me, while no one wants to be that person who is constantly looking like a fool, it really is worth it. I’ve learned to laugh at myself and not take life so seriously. I’ve grown in ways that I couldn’t if I just lived in a place where life was easy for me. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and realized that I am capable of more than I ever thought was possible.

I know that I’m giving this sort of sad/funny story a happy ending, but the truth is that is how I feel. I would always choose this lifestyle, even if it means occasionally getting trapped in foreign grocery stores.

Do you have any funny stories of trying to complete simple tasks while abroad? I would love to hear from you!

sunset highway sky

Embrace Change: Step One of Expat Life

Change is scary.

And my life is currently nothing but change.

In the past six months I’ve changed everything from my phone number and my country of residence, to my marital status and even my last name.

Change greets me when I walk out the door and I don’t hear my native language. Or when I run out of my favorite beauty product and have to explore 10 stores to find something similar. When I go to sign a receipt, only to realize I can’t use the same signature I’ve had for years.

Some days I feel like I’ve gone through a rebirth. My life looks nothing like it did even just a few months ago.

But change is also exciting.

Moving to a new place means new opportunities, like going on a honeymoon road trip through six countries. Having a different last name feels like the creation of a new part of myself, like I can explore a piece of my identity that I never knew was there before. Learning a new language is a rewarding (albeit difficult) experience that has taught me a lot and challenged me to remain a lifelong learner.

Maybe that is part of the reason why I’m starting this blog. I want to document this season of change. The good. The bad. The reality of what life looks like when you move to the other side of the world.

So I hope you’ll join me on this journey. It’s going to be quite the ride.

Plane Flying Travel

Why I Travel

When I was 15, I left the US for the second time and traveled to Lima, Peru. I remember before I left, I was terrified. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and that it would completely change my life.

Ocean Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I fell head over heels in love with travel. I could never have guessed that this passion would lead me to visit over 20 countries, across six continents, including living long term in multiple places abroad. When my other friends in high school were discussing their next soccer tournament or football game, I was dreaming up my next international trip.

I guess you could say that not a lot has changed. I find myself sitting here, writing this blog entry, while looking out my window on my new home in Germany. I think the biggest difference in my travel addiction is that I moved my focus from short-term trips to long-term living.

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