If you’ve started to follow this blog, you know that I recently made the move from the U.S. to Germany. Moving across continents is not the easiest transition, as I’ve talked about in a few previous posts (like this one or the classic tale of getting trapped in a foreign grocery store). But now I’ve made my latest transition because C and I have moved across the country from North Rhine Westphalia to Southern Germany.
It’s not permanent, at least not yet. We are here for a trial period as C completes his master’s thesis and an internship with a local company. We just arrived a few days ago and it has been a challenge so far. I was really hoping for a smooth transition but I guess that’s not always how life (especially expat life) works. I’ve been attempting to live with the attitude of embracing change, but I guess we can all admit that it isn’t always easy to do.
So what has made it so stressful? It was extremely difficult to find a temporary apartment here, so we went with a choice that seemed decent and had a great location. Then we show up, and it turns out to be a flat share with five other roommates. Now some of you may be thinking, what’s wrong with that? And I totally agree with you. I’ve lived with strangers before and it’s been completely fine. I promise you, I am not usually the diva type. To convince you, I’ll share one of my favorite fun facts, which is that I’ve lived somewhere without running water and didn’t shower for a month.
Now that you know I can live like a hippie, let me explain the reasoning behind my stress. Firstly, I just wasn’t mentally prepared to live with strangers. I will admit, I’ve gotten used to living in my own apartment for the first time in my life and I was kind of hoping it would stay that way. Secondly, I just can’t deal with filth. We can share a kitchen, but I can’t handle piles of dirty dishes, plates of old food sitting out, and a bathroom covered in hair. Sorry for the details, just trying to paint a not-so-pretty picture.
On top of that, C is off working 40 hours a week. So this is really the first time in my expat experience that I’ve had so much time to myself. This paired with my somewhat extroverted personality is a recipe for a stir-crazy week. I got myself to pretty low point, possibly the lowest of my expat experience so far. I was getting close to booking my ticket home, just to get a break and be surrounded by the familiar and easy.
Should we talk about some good things now? The city of Ulm is gorgeous. It is a complete shift from being in an industrial area. I loved walking around the streets, peppered with beautiful half-timbered buildings and cute cafes.
It’s also right on the Danube and has a massive walking/biking path along the water. And I’m starting a German course that meets every day and I hope that this will help me to finally break down the communication barriers I’ve been dealing with for the past six months.
I’m trying to keep this blog as real as possible. I love writing fun, positive posts and giving travel tips, but that’s only part of my life. The other part is dealing with the difficult aspects of being an expat. I hope that you will share your struggles with me too! I would love to hear about them in the comments or send me a link to a post that you’ve written.