That’s it, folks. We are done here, the show is over. Never would I have thought that I would entertain serious thoughts about returning to Germany, but here we are. We are going full circle. We are returning to the place where everything started.
If you had asked me just three years ago whether I would ever think about leaving Australia to return to my country of birth, Germany, I would have laughed straight to your face. I would have called you a fool, would have chuckled about the idea for the rest of the day.
Why would I have had the desire to go back to a country that was cold, sad and grim? Where people hang onto rigid processes, never smile in the shops, and use their elbows to get their way in the streets? We were fine in Australia. We had a house with six palm trees (five too many, as it turned out, but that’s a different story) and a pool, two healthy kids, long hot summers.
A Chain of Events That Couldn’t be Stopped
But then a chain of events kicked off that I couldn’t stop. It started with a change of circumstances, the sale of our house and the issues of finding a new house, and was fired on by the planting of a dangerous thought in our minds. The idea that maybe the grass was greener somewhere on the other side. Nothing wrong with a little bit of adventure, we thought. We are young, we are free, let’s go and find out what else is out there.
And so we moved the family to Spain. A long and difficult process, come to think of it. We had to sell our goods, find a place to live on the other side of the world, resettle the children. Lots of tiny baby steps along the way too. Finding good supermarkets and new staple foods, buying a car in a different language, joining the local social security system.
It was an exhausting time in our lives. The worst is the feeling of helplessness, in particular when it comes to caring for the children. You just pray that nobody breaks a leg or crashes the car. Because when you don’t speak the language well, these things tend to get terribly complicated. You adjust over time, relax, and get used to this feeling of insecurity. But it never really vanishes.
Soul Searching and Questioning the Status Quo
After a long, hot and dry summer in Spain, winter finally kicked in. We swapped mozquito bites with frost bites, so to speak. I have never coped well in winters, but this one was particularly hard for me. I started to doubt a lot of things. I thought a lot about our situation and tried to envision our future in Spain.
I felt not just vulnerable but also isolated. I tried hard but couldn’t find like-minded souls in the area. With no distractions, no comic relief, I spiralled into a very dark hole. It was a bit as if I had dug my own grave, parked the car in a cul-de-sac without a reverse gear, tied myself to a sinking ship. It took me a while and required a lot of courage to say it openly to my husband when I realised that I didn’t see a future for me in Spain.
Had it all been a big mistake? Was the whole moving-to-Spain thing a failure? I’d like to think, no. Spain was right for us in the moment. It offered us the opportunity to experience something new, expose ourselves and the kids to an unfamiliar environment, levelling the path to whatever would lie ahead.
A Failure or Just the Logical Next Step?
Having children changes everything. You want the best for them. But they make everything far more complicated and exhausting. We were worried about what they would say if we told them that Spain was not a forever thing. That we would move on, go to Germany, and have them become adults there.
Lucky for us, the kids were great. They loved the idea and showed a surprising amount of relief about the fact that they could attend school in a language that they were more familiar with.
Of course, we know that they are too young to realise what is ahead of them. The cold and wet winters, the small apartment, the criminal activity in a big city. We have to work extra hard now to give them the best start so that they can finish their school careers in Germany and become stable adults.
Thoughts About our Year in Spain
Living in Spain wasn’t a bad idea. I’d like to think of it as an experience, like a gap year. Something that will help the kids later one, an adventure that taught us a lesson or two. We have seen a lot of things, met quite a few people, learned a little bit of language, ate some interesting foods. You cannot claim that our lives have been boring, or even ordinary.
Why Germany, then, you might ask. Why not return to Australia?
Australia at the moment seems very far away. I cannot fathom the idea of going that far away again, to such a remote place, without family around, and no diversion. Europe is great for us, there is so much to see here.
Berlin will be the next step on our journey. We will stay there for a while, at least until the kids have grown up and make their own lives. I may go back into novel writing, a budding interest that died when I moved to Australia 15 years ago. Because it is Berlin after all, the creative centre of Germany. I can’t wait.
Berlin, Here we Come
It won’t be easy, we already learned this the hard way, just two weeks into preparing for the next big move. The housing market is under pressure and it will require an insane amount of good luck to find a suitable place to live. We don’t come with a stable income, don’t have the same trackable financial background like German families. We will need to find a landlord who can understand our circumstances and will allow a deviation from the norm.
But we are looking forward to finding a final place to settle. I can’t wait to hang pictures on the naked walls, start collecting stuff that nobody needs, accumulate dust on the upper shelves. I want to make friends – international friends from Germany, Australia, the US and the UK. I want to go out again and have a laugh, pursue some new hobbies.
I never thought that I would return to live in Germany. I had a settled life in Australia, a clear path was ahead of me. But sometimes things turn out differently. This is what makes life so liveable. It’s all a big adventure. Will you join me on my journey back home?