Culture Shock and Living With It

Last weekend I travelled west to Stuttgart for an assessment center, which took place on Monday and Tuesday. Okay, so I didn’t get the job, but it was an amazing experience, where I got to meet lots of like-minded (i.e. business-minded and high-achieving) Germans and just not through S.

It was nice to be reminded that I am also a qualified person, I also seek many high-achieving dreams like these people, and my German was truly conversational. I could understand 95% of the time, and could respond in a way where my grammar was off and on right, but completely understandable. And I didn’t have to nudge S to say, hey what did he just say? Well, he couldn’t be there at that very spot with me, though he did do the big trip with me.

The city was also beautiful and quaint, with (very) German-styled architecture, yet with the view of the mountains and rivers. Apart from that, I would say the city is more similar to Singapore. The cars were fancy, the roads were clean, the people were rich and career-driven.

Returning to Berlin was a little strange. There I was, back in the capital of this country, and then I hunched back and returned into my comfort zone of jeans and sneakers. Then I went to class and met with artists (painters, directors, photographers) and spoke to people 10 years younger than me, or 20 years older than me, with their dreams of making it in Berlin – the fellow jobseekers.

The buildings are grey but the city still sparkled in an unconventional way – and it’s strange to still find it unconventional. It should be conventional now that I see it every day for seven months. It’s the city where rules aren’t rules.

It’s interesting now that I can really foresee living in both cities, it would be perfectly okay. It used to be just a catchphrase, a way to sound cool. I don’t know where I’ll be in a few months. I don’t know where I’ll live in a few years. It depends on so many things – my career for example would play a huge role. But it is a good feeling to truly be at peace with myself and say, it’s true. I can foresee myself living in a different city.

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Crawling out of the shell, again

Yes, this feels very 2009, when I was on exchange in France.

I’ve a tendency to move to an amazing place, then stay cooped up in my shell and then ponder about whether I’m adapting well, whether I’m making the right choices, etc.

Since moving to Berlin, (again, amazing city) I’ve been happy to start a routine, to make me feel at home in my own home. And I do. I’m really happy with the apartment, and though S and I are still figuring out how to live our lives together, we’re still glad to have each other.

Then he left me for his work training that takes place in the opposite side of the country, and I’ve been alone for one week now, and with another week ahead. I’ve been feeling super alone this week, though I’ve been occupying myself with homework, with painting of the apartment, with a cycling trip, jogging, going out, etc. I still felt somewhat uneasy.

Then yesterday half of my language class met up for drinks, and they were the half that was always present but I’ve never spoken much to. Somehow I retreated to a circle that was present only half the time, and never really initiated hangouts.

I’m not an incredibly sociable person, to be honest. I always need the backing of someone familiar. For example, S is super sociable and can speak to really anybody on earth. He can think of topics off the top of his head from the get go, and that’s a brilliant skill. For me, it depends on whether I’m comfortable enough or not. So when we go to parties, he always starts the ball rolling, and because he’s there, I’m comfortable enough to socialize as well.

In conclusion, without him or anyone familiar, I’m a mess. I’m introverted, I’m worried all the time, and I’m nervous. As always, before any social event, I’m whining to people about how I’m alone but how I’m nervous about the night. But I know I’m always glad about how it turns out after, so I decided I do need to crawl out of my shell. And last night I did.

Maybe I haven’t had a great time with friends of mine in a long time. With S’s friends, they’re fun but it always felt like they’re his friends. But last night, my friends and I chatted in German. We were people from Singapore, Italy, Australia, France, Montenegro, Columbia – what a mix. I won’t say that we’re best friends now because we’re not, but now that I’ve seen a possibility of building a better friendship, having good companionship of my own, I feel much more at ease in this city.

Later, I’ll be with a Taiwanese girl, and on Wednesday I’m going to a play with a girl from Ecuador. (What are they called? Ecuadorans?) It’s not perfect because I’m really not super close to any of them, but it’s a huge step forward and a huge relief, knowing that I’ll be okay, and I’m not that alone.

And now, I’m off to check out someone’s guitar, as seen from his ad on ebay. Wish me luck!

The Big News

It’s official, I’m moving!

I’m moving to Germany.

(At least for the next six months, and then we’ll see! Fingers crossed it won’t be just six months.)

I’ve left my role at the company to move to Germany, and I’m leaving on Monday.

Wow, did I just say that? I’ve always wanted to say that!

The planning process was long, paperwork was a bitch and packing is tough. Since returning from France in May, I’ve been toying with the idea. In June I spoke to my boss. In July I applied for a visa. Here we are in September, I just got my visa, and I’m leaving on Monday!

This also means that for a while, the long distance relationship will be over! I will get to wake up in the morning and see that silly happy face still sleeping next to me. I will get to say, “we need more bread.” “Let’s watch TV.” “Wanna take a walk?” and maybe even “put down the toilet seat!”

Ok not so much the last one, because he’s disciplined and I’m blessed.

Ok he’s not going to be with me e-v-e-r-y single day, but that’s okay!

I’m also going to be able to say my favourite “tschüssssssssss” (bye in German) when leaving anywhere!

I’m going to rent a car and drive to the lake just because. I’m going to experience the whole winter. (Ok I might regret that.) I’m going to speak damn good German. (Right after I restart German classes, of course.) I’m going to watch One Republic in February. I’m going to see what the hype is about when a German football match is on. I’m gonna…

I’m gonna be with S. Holy smokes.

I’ve never lived with a boy. It’ll be okay right? Right?

And now… Somebody help me pack please?

Ein Reisegepäck (a luggage)

Today I bought a luggage.

It’s my third present to myself this month. Christmas is becoming a terrible excuse.

And while purchasing a luggage seems insignificant, it is a huge deal to me.

In all my 23 years, I have never bought a luggage before. I have never even bought a backpack before. This symbolized freedom to choose, and freedom to travel. I have felt it, and I have experienced it. But there’s more.

This luggage will arrive at my house on Boxing Day. And from then on, it will lie in my room to serve as a reminder that I should work towards my ideal plan and not settle comfortably where I am just because it’s safe.

It will also serve to remind me of the moments of fearlessness, moments of worry-free certainty – of where I want to be, even if it’s full of risks and uncertainty.

Lastly, it will serve to remind me that I’m a baby step closer to it.

Next up, getting the boy and I a job in the same city.