Remember this photo? 25 year-old me, a big hug and an even bigger smile. Heathrow airport, 11th August 2016. Ahh!! Where has the time gone? I moved to Germany to live out my dream, I’ve just turned 30 and I’m now celebrating 5 years in Frankfurt. It’s all going on!
My relocation has been one hell of an exhilarating, frustrating, difficult, joyful and successful journey.
To start with, despite previously studying in Germany, I experienced so much culture shock. Remember any of these?
- The lack of customer service in Germany;
- Apartments don’t come with kitchens in Germany;
- and Shaking hands and getting naked: Culture shock at its finest?
FYI, I’m still not over the kitchen thing.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve not become a little German. I now love sparkling water and have learnt how to set boundaries. The German’s are pretty good at not doing what they don’t want to, so I’m glad to have taken that on. However, it is 2021 and we’re living through a pandemic, so card payment everywhere would be very much appreciated – Dankeschön.
Anyway, let me share the juice or spill the tea, whatever you wanna call it! 5 years is a big milestone, so I’m happy to get it all out there. That being the peaks and pits of my 5 years in Frankfurt. Actually, let’s start with the pits as it’s nice to end on a positive note.
#1 – Disaster housemate situation
I had a housemate
issue catastrophe. The anxiety of being told your belongings aren’t and never were yours and being spoken so rudely was just not what I moved abroad for. If this wasn’t bad enough, the other housemate bought a puppy for the apartment without asking (I’m allergic!!!) and then expected me to look after it. I cried a lot. And then started looking for a new apartment – alone.
#2 – Friendships
Making friends who you click with, can be yourself around and whose values align with your own. I’ve been dropped by people, which is crap, but to be honest, I’ve also dropped people myself. With age (I’ll say that now that I’m a big 30 year old 😉) the process of deciding who you want to spend your time with certainly picks up in pace. My biggest learning is that it’s ok for friendships not to work out. Saying that, the loneliness can be hard, especially when you have your best friends (who really are the best) back home.
#3 – Falling out of love with my first job in Frankfurt
When I first relocated, work was more than just a job. It enabled me to move abroad with financial security, it was the reason I travelled so much during my first years here, it’s where I made my first friends, it’s where I got help with things you’d usually ask family for. Work was my world – which is lucky, because I loved my job. And because of this, realising that I eventually needed to move on took a while to process. I wasn’t just leaving a job, I was leaving so many ‘firsts’ in Frankfurt, and so much of what made this city my home.
#1 – Falling in love with my own company
My biggest fear about moving abroad on my own was loneliness. And I did feel alone – a lot, but what I hadn’t considered is the comfort I would find in falling in love with my own company. I’ve had some of my best moments in Frankfurt whilst spending time on my own, and I genuinely think I wouldn’t have reached this point if I hadn’t relocated alone.
#2 – Getting to know Frankfurt
Part of what makes me so happy here is how familiar I’ve made myself with this city. This familiarisation strongly contributes to me feeling at home here. During lockdown, I took to discovering Frankfurt’s nature – a hidden gem, I must say. I love showing visitors round from the UK, not just to ensure that they have a good holiday, but because it’s so exciting to give friends a glimpse into my life over here.
#3 – Taking German to the next level
I could speak German before relocating, but I had always lacked confidence in writing. I knew that in order to take my German to the next level, I needed to become proficient in business German. Shout out to the people who have helped me along the way because without you, I really wouldn’t be here. I am glad to say that I have finally made it!
PSA: Please take careful consideration before making ‘become proficient in business German’ a personal objective 😅
What’s your next adventure?
I don’t plan to move to a new country again. I mean, never say never, but it’s not a dream that I need to live out, as with moving to Germany. A few weeks ago, I had a real sense of ‘home’ when reflecting on my life in Frankfurt. I’m home here, just as I’m home in London. But Frankfurt is the home I’ve chosen to live in.
I’ve jumped over and done black flips under the “When are you coming home?” question since 11th August 2016. Mainly because I’ve never actually known. But for now, on my 5th Germ-anniversary, I can tell you that I already am home, and this is where I’ll be staying.
I’m fortunate to have a choice and be able to make this decision. I’m even more fortunate to have friends and family in London with whom I’m still in regular contact, despite living abroad. Perhaps that’s what makes this life choice possible. It’s funny how life works.
I’ll leave it there. But if I may, congrats to me for 5 years in Frankfurt! Here’s to many more!