Once a year – being foreign

Once a year I seem to get to this melancholy state of mind thinking about where I am from and what I want in life. Probably very normal. Last year I wrote about “am I German?”.

And of course I am German, and I am proud to be German. Not proud of what Germany has done over 60 years ago but proud to come from such an advanced country with a good reputation for schools, universities, engineering products etc.

Just the other day I realised that it has been 20 years since the Berlin wall came down. Time has passed. I won’t forget the moment when I woke up, watched TV and saw my parents in tears seeing the wall coming down. I was 12 at the time and only knew Germany being divided. I didn’t have a clue what was going on and that I was witnessing history in the making.

It has been eight years this year that I flew from Dusseldorf to Aberdeen to study in the UK and haven’t been a resident in Germany since. I lost my taste for some German food and for a while I almost hated Germany. I believe that most people leaving their country want to get away from something and don’t want to look back. And I was the same for a while, and I was proud of not liking Germany and not returning there.

However, there came a point when I considered going back. And even today, looking at the health system in Britain, the school system and the house prices in London, particularly with our little boy being born, I sometimes wish I would go back. But I won’t. At least not for a good while. But why is that, why am I so settled here?

This is a personal blog post and surely most expats in the UK are seeing things similarly. I don’t hate Germany anymore, enjoy being amongst Germans but still cannot imagine moving back. I cannot imagine being part of that life that I didn’t enjoy a few years ago. What was it that I didn’t like? The “stiffness” of the society, the intolerance, the “want to be different”? Maybe. But looking back what annoyed me then is what annoys me now. Where I live I find the same problems I found in Germany 10 years ago. And that is because I am now part of the society, I get integrated into the everyday life, the habits, the thoughts etc.

I truly believe that once you are part of any place in the world and live there and you are part of the society and local community, you will experience similar things.

And every now and then you get reminded by people what you are missing from your home country. And when you have a little child and you speak German to him and you think of all the words and you think of what he will say to you when he is grown up. And what is was like for your parents when you left them. And your grand parents when you left their “father land”.

But you think of many other things too. You think of what other people had done in your situation. That is when you sit back and relax. Because it was a good choice for me to get a good education from a good university. It was good to have an international degree. It surely was right to have a career in London, live on the outskirts with my wife. And, of course it was right to get married to my wife.

So it is all positive really! Being German, the first part of this blog post sounds like moaning. But it is just our direct way of saying things the way they are. Full stop. No, we aren’t harsh, we are just very direct in our expressions. People who know us learn to live with that šŸ™‚

Not in the world would I consider to move away from what I have now. And most people, including my family, understood why I moved towards what I have now, when I left Germany so long ago. Of course I will always be a foreigner. I will always have an accent and a slightly different view on things. But you would, wouldn’t you?

And, I am open about it and like to talk about it. Because I am who I am because of…..what I decided to do in life. You always make decisions and you never know until afterwards whether the decision was right or wrong.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are happy where you are. And I am very happy where I am, what I do, how I live and the people I surround myself with. London in particular makes it even easier to live because there are so many Germans, Scottish, Danish, Turkish, Spanish…..people that have a similar story to tell.

I better stop and have a German wheat beer to calm my melancholy šŸ˜‰