This Year

I think I was the last one working yesterday from my project. And today, as I slowly would down from the past weeks, I realize that the two words of this year are work and expat. I wish I can say that this year has been all I wanted it to be with my career. Other than a few high points and some new friends I've made, it has been rather disappointing at best and more like a struggle in quicksand at worst. Maybe it's a learning experience or maybe it's a prod in a new direction. I suppose over the week I have off I will be doing some thinking about what direction to take next or maybe I just need a break from thinking about it at all.

And as for the ex-pat experience? There has been nothing like it in my life. Being an ex-pat comes with amazing highs and its share of lows. Today M. and I were walking around the Christmas market on Marienplatz doing some last minute shopping and throughout the day I insisted on speaking as much German as possible. We were both surprised at how much I could communicate when I really tried. I looked around at the setting and thought back over the year and there were so many fond memories. Learning to ski in the Alps, racing around the Tuscan countryside with my sis and her boyfriend, showing my parents around Germany and Austria, Rome for M.'s birthday, M. and I visiting my parents and grandparents and Fenway, a summer night in Finaland, a trip to Tulum where we fell in love, getting to know M.'s family and watching his little niece grow, lazy days at the lakes and more...

Being an expat at its most difficult can be the people you miss or the place you miss. For me it is the people and mostly my family. I saw them every two to three months, better than when I lived in the States for some years, but I miss them anyway. Staying here for Christmas makes it feel somewhat less like Christmas because to me Christmas is meant for family.

With the bitter, comes the sweet. You can't imagine a more Christmas-y place than Germany and Switzerland. It's hard not to get into the mood when the window shops and streets are lined with evergreens, red bows and twinkling white lights. The Christmas markets are full of people laughing and caroling and the stands sell all kinds of goodies. It has an uplifting effect on me.

Finally, there is M. The reason I came here, the reason I am an expat. It was a giant leap of faith to cross the Atlantic, leave the familiar behind and start a life in a foreign land. I wanted to find out and now I know that he is the right person for me, my best friend and I can't imagine life without him.

Posted in Munich


kj said...

As long as you're with the one you love and are happy :-)


lobstah said...

Aw, we miss you too shelly! I'm sure we'll be talking to you today or tomorrow but wanted to wish you both Merry Christmas anyway :)

vailian said...

Lovely summing up. Brings back many memories for me, as an expat who made the leap (and believe me, North Dakota to Europe is a BIG leap)and haven't regretted it. In spite of all the German bureaucracy, I have managed to survive here and (even) prosper... I would have had a different destiny in America but I think on balance I did the right thing. 20 years and 3 bilingual kids later, it is still a challenge but exciting.

Expat Traveler said...

you certainly have done a lot! And I think between the two you are having the best of both worlds. ;-)