leben im ausland

4

one year ago we packed our things and said goodbye to the bay area
to move back to germany - for good.

we had the most amazing three years in the US, filled to the brim with new people, new impressions and new experiences. diving into the american culture, the customs, the language and the food opened our horizons in more ways than i can comprehend. 
establishing a new daily routine was as fascinating as embarking on new adventures continuously. on our various travels, roadtrips and little getways we saw more of the country than some locals do in their lifetime (in fact, we know the west coast way better than our own home country now).
in our everyday life we learned a lot about the american way and it’s customs and habits, we got to know some of the silicon valley’s finest international inhabitants and some of the rare old-established californians, too ;D.
san francisco and beautiful california became our home -
and the bay area will always have a piece of my heart.

but it feels good that i can say now:
i finally have arrived and feel home again in germany, too.

coming back and getting into the groove again was very exiting and a real adventure on its own - it’s fascinating and unexpectedly exhausting to come back to your old home when you changed so much. three years in a different setting really mess with your cultural programming and let you see everything with new eyes. things you always took for granted seem weird all of a sudden and you can’t run through your daily grind on autopilot like you used to before.
your brain is actively analyzing and reviewing all the impressions nonstop, trying to make sense of this weird mix of familiarity and strangeness.
simple tasks like navigating through a crowded city didn’t come naturally to me anymore and stressed me consciously or unconsciously. e.g.: germans come way closer and don’t sidestep politely like californians do, and suddenly i felt thronged by that and was are very aware of (and annoyed by) every little - usually automatic and unconscious - evasive maneuver. 

the german roughness i always defended as honesty and dealt with so well seemed rude and agressive suddenly. it took me almost a year to stop being offended by it in daily routine situations and start reacting right to break through the hard outer shell and connect with the warm person inside in a few steps again.
add all this cultural confusion to working fulltime in a demanding project manager job plus working on my masters with the profound and contradictory subject of “environmentally sustainable marketing” and you get the picture of me running on high gear ALL THE TIME.

but now that i slowly get the hang of all these german customs again, now that spring is coming and lights up the nature and everybody’s mood and now that my mind is occupied by the new adventure that lies ahead of us (which also forced me to slow down a bit…thank you german maternity leave for giving me 6 weeks off before due date =) germany feels more like home again with each passing day.
it’s so good to feel the nesting instinct kicking in, to be surrounded and feel loved by family and friends, to have long talks with the many strong, loving and tough mothers i know that back me up and reassure me in this exiting time….
it takes a village to raise a kid. and we are back in ours =D.

on coming back to germany

(long-promised snippets of thoughts on moving countries
that just manifested in a message to a fellow world traveller)

life is keeping us very busy right now: being back with family and friends,
work and university is amazing and exiting - but it’s exhausting, too.
coming back to “normality” will take some more time,
it’s astounding how much re-enculturation one needs after only three years away from home.
i guess all this pondering and deep rooted emotional confusion about what “reality”, “normality” and “home” means are part of that renowned foreign country experience:
these struggles make the difference between travelling and uprooting to move countries.
i‘m confident these struggles result in growth.

right now it‘s such a trip to re-familiarize with “home”
that all i yearn for is a real “arrival” and every day life. 
once we find that i’m ready to go explore again: 
i can see history and culture of long standing vibrate all around us:
the old world europe is right at our feet!

FEUERZANGENBOWLE

missing the traditional german “weihnachtsmarkt” (christmas market) very badly, we decided to expand last years’ “keeping german christmas traditions” to “SPREADING german christmas traditions” and hosted a huge FEUERZANGENBOWLE on our deck this weekend.

feuerzangenbowle is a traditional german winter punch similar to mulled wine: a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set alight to slowly caramelize and drip into a red wine/orange juice/cinnamon/star anise/clove-punch.
it’s a lovely spectacle and often served on german christmas markets - a festively illuminated outdoor winter fair that serves all kinds of christmassy goods, food and hot drinks.

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