Actually, it's the end of November. Where has the time gone!?!?
I have twenty-four days until I fly back to the States. How is my year here over? It's an odd feeling. Last year, I did three months here in Germany on a short-term assignment with the understanding that I was probably going to be back for a year. This time? Maybe another business trip in 2017, maybe?
Here are some other thoughts as I start to pack up and say good-bye.
While traveling around Europe, I generally have two overwhelming thoughts: I can't wait to come back here, accompanied by a kind of panicky calculation of all the places I've added to this 'must revisit' list (London, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Venice), and a flippant 'this place was fine, but I wouldn't come back', accompanied with a kind of sadness and despair at how large the world is, met with my own mortality that I won't live long enough to revisit every nook and cranny. Traveling can be depressing!
We've mentioned death already in this post. Next: taxes. I'm going to be dealing with this year abroad at least until April 15th, 2018. The tax firm handling my case is cheerful as they tell me that they can push back my taxes and get continuances for quite some time. I'm filled with dread. Can we just get past this already?
Bubble. Whatever is currently being said about echo chambers and self-made bubbles right now, you know what's super effective? Move to a country where you don't speak the language. I like cities because you can be among people without being with people. This is true exponentially when you don't speak the language. An introvert who never has to make small talk? Heaven. Go to the coffee room. There are guys crowded around the table, but they're yammering away in German. I can't inadvertently eavesdrop on the people sitting next to me on the tram because it's all French. Ah, silence without silence.
Regret. Regret is a dumb, wasted emotion, especially when there's nothing to learn from the experience. I'm trying not to embrace these thoughts too much. Should I have traveled more? Was it wrong to go to London three times instead of visiting Dusseldorf? Why didn't I be more active in the local expat group? Why didn't I do more shopping? Could I have tried harder to learn German? Shut up, internal monologue. I'm here, it's the end of November. Embrace what's happened.
Connected. While here, I have a very simple phone that allows for texting and phone calls. It's expensive and is strictly 'emergency only', therefore primarily used to contact Airbnb hosts while I struggle to find their apartment or to call my Mom when I can't get the phone function on FB messenger to work. My Verizon Samsung smart phone has been relegated to 'WiFi only.' The result: I don't talk on the phone much. Instead, the majority of my relationships have been maintained this year by desired internet mode. There's my friends who only email, my friends who prefer gchat, my friends who just share via our private FB group. Work colleagues who have come to exist only via email, work IM, and the occasional conference call. My family communications now entirely exist by FB messenger, going through iterations of parents, cousins, siblings. I'm in the process of getting an apartment back in the States and my lease manager is insistent on using the phone. Can we please just email? The year abroad has not been great for my social skills.