If everyone were required to live for a time in a country where they don’t speak the language or know the culture, I wonder how that would change the world. There is something very humbling about being completely ignorant of your surroundings and how to navigate and negotiate to get your needs met. Other senses are triggered when you don’t understand the language being spoken…listening for tone and timber of voice, watching body language and facial expressions, observing interactions between the people around you, all clues used to help figure out what the heck is going on! Some people thrive in unfamiliar environments, but for those of us that don’t, the experience of being a foreigner, or in my case in Germany ein Auslander, can be extremely stressful. The relief that comes from the kindness and generosity of native strangers, or assimilated expats, cannot be overstated. Luckily, I have encountered many of them. But most of all, at least for me, I feel much empathy for others that are in similar situations.
I want to preface this blog post by saying that I wrote it right after arriving in Germany following what was a treacherous (to me) move. I was jet lagged and in pain. The feelings were real, but even now, on day 7, things are looking brighter. (Sleep and pain relief will do that. 🙂 )
I feel like I’m in a dream. I can’t believe I have actually moved to Germany. To say that I feel like a fish out of water would be an understatement. I think it’s even more jarring because the move beat the crap out of me, physically and emotionally. I have a bad back and chronic pain issues and had to push through all of that and tax my body to the max, every day for a week. I now feel like a heap of aching joints. It’s even hard to walk. For my friends and family that are familiar with The Spoon Theory, I’ve used up reserve spoons through next Christmas. The 11 hour flight with the dude in the seat in front of me, reclining down into my lap, didn’t help the situation. OK, I see where this post is going. It’s going to be a bitch session. Sorry, that’s just where I’m at right now. Of course, I’m happy and grateful to have the opportunity to experience a different culture and travel to many places I’ve always wanted to go, but right now on day 2, all I can see is that I am in a strange apartment with no internet, sitting on hard rental furniture, can’t take a shower because 2 of 2 towels we have are dirty and the washing machine takes 3 hours and the towels still aren’t dry. And…….. all my stuff is on the ocean somewhere right now and won’t get here for approximately 2 months! Whaaaaa! I want my bed! Whaaaaa!