Looking at the calendar yesterday, I was reduced to a sheer panic. Tears, blubbering, shallow breathing, the works.
Today is Tuesday and I’m homeward bound at the end of this week.
Surprised? Me too. It’s the wackiest timing. If you had asked me a couple of months ago I would’ve been all over leaving, but now I’m a heap of conflicting emotions. I’m excited to see my family again, have a lot less bread in my diet, and find steadier work, but I’m so bummed about leaving Marburg. We’ve just started to warm up to each other and German-life has begun to feel so normal.
Going home, not giving up.
But I really do think this may be the best move. It definitely isn’t what I had in mind when I sat down in January, determined to come up with a long term plan for life here. Honestly, going home didn’t really cross my mind until recently. I was so hung up on how going home would look to everyone: you guys, my family, people back home, new friends here. It felt like a total expat failure. I spent many days asking myself how come other people are able to get through it okay.
Slowly, very slowly, I’ve warmed up to the idea. I’ve been able to come around and see that going home now gives me the best shot at a great life in Germany later. Once F is done with school and we’re able to move around, when we’ve both worked and built a little savings, once I figure out exactly what I want to study in grad school.
Time for a brief intermission.
This move isn’t permanent; I made sure of that because feeling stuck somewhere is my biggest fear. I’ve booked a round trip flight that returns in June. But just because I think this is the right move and I’ll be back, it doesn’t make leaving any easier.
Living in Germany has been an adventure, equal parts highest highs and lowest lows, and a total learning experience, but boy has it been worth it all. I can’t even begin to put into words everything I’ve learned about myself, the struggles of post-graduate adulthood, Germany, living abroad, stepping out of your comfort zone, how to handle strings of job rejections, and relationships.
The list of things Marburg has taught me is pretty much endless. Homesickness is inevitable, but its also beatable; there will be lots of days of lots of tears and that is completely normal; and settling into a new place is going to take longer than you expect but you can’t force it. Don’t rush, adopt instead the stop and smell the roses attitude that is Marburg. Walk into any cafe and you’ll see it in action; people sitting, enjoying coffee from porcelain cups and deep in conversation. It’s daily walks with no destinations, window shopping in the Oberstadt, slow fast food, and a city with just one to-go coffee shop.
Enjoying the little things.
Marburg has taught me to appreciate the little things. The occasional golden morning skies, the chiming church bells, random street cats in Südviertel, finding an uncrowded street in the Oberstadt on a Saturday morning, an endless supply of new coffee shops to try. These silly little things will be what I miss most; they’re also the bulk of this week’s to-do list. Elisabethkirche, the last coffee shop on my list, the jazz club, my favorite bookstores.
I have five days left and I plan on using them to experience of Marburg that I’ve missed-days wandering the city, pictures of everything, a good-bye dinner on Friday, my first Valentine’s Day actually with F-so you probably won’t hear from me again until I’m stateside. And now that I no longer look at this decision as a failure, I can enjoy this extended vacation. Fear not, this blog will go on and before you (and I) know it, I’ll be back in Germany.