Learning to Live with Living Abroad
Five years ago, when I first started travelling and living abroad I made my first blog so I could write about my adventures, sure it was corny and most of the anecdotes I now find cringe-worthy but now I look back at the subsequent travels and a theme starts to emerge.
As you've probably noticed I've been a bit absent the last six weeks or so. I'm writing to tell you that everything is fine, I've just been going through, what I've come to realise, is an inevitable part of moving abroad. After the novelty of a new place starts to wear off, somewhere around the two month mark, I hit what can only be described as a crisis of confidence.
Perhaps some of your best laid plans start to unravel or the language keeps leaving you feeling alienated. Perhaps you're struggling to make friends or are finding it difficult getting work. At some point you start to wonder; was this a huge mistake? Am I just kidding myself? What the hell am I doing here? This was me approximately one month ago in all it's neurotic, insecure glory so, I decided to go home for a while.
Now I'm not going to lie to you, there was a point where I honestly considered not going back to Berlin. Life at home seemed so simple, comfortable and I loved being surrounded by everything safe and familiar about my life in Derby. It took some serious encouragement and talking out a lot of my issues with my family and friends to feel like I could cope with going back. Their help is not lost on me. When I finally did go back one week into January I started to find things seemed to be getting a little bit easier, more and more my confidence has been growing, I've been putting myself forward for new work and opportunities, even trying to speak more German and happily practicing every day.
So what changed? I spoke to an expat friend about it over tea and wine (his tea, my wine) and was relieved to discover he had been through something very similar at around his two month mark and seemed to think this was actually a very common occurrence amongst expats. "The hardest part is coming back." He remarked. "But you're over the worst of it now and don't be ashamed to go home when you think you need to." The more I asked other people about it the more I felt reassured. I began to cast my mind back to 2011, somewhere on a beach in Thailand, feeling terribly far from home and worrying that this would turn into the biggest mistake of my life. Or northern Spain, around summer 2013, thinking; what the hell have I got myself into now? Thankfully laughing at myself and thinking; every time! You do this every time!
For me the most wonderful thing about living abroad is how new, exciting and often terrifying mundane tasks and habits become once again. Going into a cafe and ordering a coffee will never churn my stomach like it does here. Simple, everyday things like grocery shopping becomes a nerve-wracking ordeal, you work up to it, you plan it in your mind, you will not be defeated. Everything is new, you hunt for the familiar, you find hints of it here and there but mostly when you do find it it's never quite right. Well here's the good part; that's O.K. Coffee will never taste as good, shopping will never feel as genuinely rewarding. Each little victory is a triumph taking you once step further from the life you knew and one step closer to well... a new one. It's all strange and unfamiliar but hey; that's what you came for right?
Sometimes people tell me I'm brave for doing this and usually I shrug them off in self depreciation. Two days ago I was accepted into a my top choice art school,. I'd put off the interview for weeks constantly feeling like I wasn't ready, that my work wasn't good enough, that I wasn't good enough. Then two days ago I was brave, a little insecure, a little neurotic but brave and walked out with the thing I have wanted for longer than I can remember. I'm telling those people now; you were right and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me so.
I'm not sure what format this blog will take over the coming months, I'm not going tell you that I'm going to be doing regular posts, this isn't a job for me it's a place I come to share my thoughts, feelings and ideas regardless if anybody actually sees them. I can tell you that this is an exciting time for me and I think I will have much to share with you. Sometimes I'll be gone for a while but I'll always come back. In the meantime thank you for sticking around.
Auf Wiedersehen, Tori x