Life Abroad: Retrospectively
Thanks Europe, that’s a wrap.
The last blog post I wrote before life got busy in Munich was about our moving process. But instead of following it up by more blogging, we focused on being in the moment. But now that we’re back — here’s the scoop on what I can remember!
After arriving, we focused on getting our bearings — simple stuff, like where to buy shampoo, get a key replicated, or how to get new contact lenses. It’s shocking when you realize that much of living life is basically autopilot built on years of subconscious programming, and to stop and think about simple everyday tasks is a very strange sensation.
Pretty quickly, I started to get the rhythm of the job and Megan enrolled in German classes. The first six months felt like we were in a dream state, constantly wondering when we would wake up in California. Everything was new, and exciting — the quirks were fun and frustrations were filed under “life experiences” or “cultural integration”.
Then winter arrived, which was fun for hitting the slopes, but we were not ready for that kind of cold in our everyday life. The Christmas markets, Glühwein and Feuerzangenbowle helped, but mornings were pretty tough. Munich shuts down in the winter, at 8pm so you start to feel like you live in an abandoned arctic outpost (okay I’m being a bit dramatic). We did get used to it, and I think this year we will miss those clear, blue and ice cold winter mornings.
At the end of year one, things finally felt normal. I had a picture of how my day should go and Megan started working full-time for SinnerSchrader to help prepare JSConf EU. Life was good, and with the fantastic vacation allowance and “bridge days” (day off, workday, weekend) one can organize some great trips without taking much time off. We utilized those opportunities to visit as many European destinations we could, I set foot in more than twenty countries in two years!
However, as we saw the end of year two approaching we had to start the conversation about the future, and as much as we enjoyed life in Bavaria — Munich just couldn’t become our permanent home.
Highlights of living in Germany
- Constantly meeting people from other places, with fresh perspectives
- Exposure to foreign languages and dialects
- Endless travel and exploration
- Beer gardens: delicious food/drinks under towering chestnut trees
- Insight into European industry, especially technology and digital transformation
- Riding bikes everywhere all the time! Amazing.
- Balance: On Sunday you relax (no shopping, or working, the same for weekdays after 7pm). Also, a Radler (beer/lemonade mix) or Helles is acceptable to enjoy at lunch time.
- Handful of new amazing friends, who will be sorely missed
A big thanks goes out to the folks at SinnerSchrader for the support, patience, and life changing opportunity. I wish you all the very, very best, and hope the coolest projects find their way to your door step. I love your traditions and look forward to implementing them for my future teams to enjoy.
Another thanks to our family and friends, and the endless support, visits, inclusion and encouragement (especially when times were tough) that we received throughout our adventure. The world is a better place with you in it!
I absolutely recommend living abroad if given the opportunity. It’s the only real way to feel the subtle differences in the social constructs of a different society. But most importantly, it’s healthy to open up to the idea that the way you see the world is heavily influenced by the echo chamber that surrounds you. If you care, listen and ask questions, you might find that how you perceive life can change substantially.
However, I also now see and understand why people don’t pick up and go — it’s exhausting. It seems glorious and glamorous in a blog post, but people don’t talk enough about how disruptive the whole experience can be. Change is stressful and unsettling and thats what an international move is, jobs, homes, relationships — huge amounts of change. It’s worth it — but at the moment I feel pretty excited to stay put for a while.