I recently moved from Houston, Texas to Cologne, Germany to pursue my master’s degree. My dog and I have been here for over a month now.
The first couple of weeks felt like vacation. I spent my first Christmas away from my family and in the living room of my German boyfriend’s family, learning Czech and German traditions and opening gifts on Dec. 24. My dog, Wesley, moped for about a week to mourn the loss of my parents and their generous love and breakfast sharing.
This whole situation is incredible to me. I have done a lot of risky things in life, but this takes the cake. I am not going to sit here and hammer out how cool it is to be living in Europe, and how I am just going through “oh my god culture shock” because it has been more normal than I can explain. Yes, the language, rules, government and societal norms are different, but everything is alright so far. I miss burritos and non-subtitled TV, I may be absolutely broke by March, but I feel okay.
My time here has so far been spent purchasing furniture, working remotely for my job back in Houston, trying Haribo candies that I never knew existed, getting questionable looks (and actually questioned) when taking blog photos, stumbling around with my German in social situations and cooking my favorite meals from home. I have successfully purchased drain cleaner, used the public transportation by myself and found a running route. My dog now goes on much longer walks, has a new, giant cozy blanket in his bed, and is routinely brushed and fed chicken sausage. He even has a new coat, which I can’t stop taking pictures of him in.
My next months will be spent studying for my German language exam required by my program, and looking for a part-time job so I can afford my dog’s new lifestyle, and maybe some food for myself.
I miss my family and friends. I’m already worried that some of them have just let go, and that others will soon follow. I keep imagining them here, and finding places to show them if they ever visit. I refuse to miss any birthdays, having shuffled out of the country with generous gifts from everyone and left them behind empty-handed. I’m not proud of it, but any success I have from this leap will first be shared with the ones who helped me go.