When I was young, I never thought I’d live outside of New York City. I never really thought about it because, really, the city is so big and so diverse that I felt it had everything I needed. I was born there, I went to school there, I wanted to work there and carve out a life for myself there. However the idea of moving abroad always appealed to me. I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Europe in high school and ever since I have nursed an active wanderlust, traveling as frequently as my wallet will allow. Moving abroad is like turning travel up to 11, and I’ve always dreamed of doing it even though I never intended to leave the city I still consider home.
As it turns out, I did leave NYC. It wasn’t to move abroad, but a year out of college I moved to San Francisco on a whim, with a guy I’d only been dating a few months, because I liked the idea of an adventure. I had no job lined up, no savings to fall back on, but I did it! None of that scared me. In fact, I found it exciting. I always have found big change like this exciting, which I have been called crazy for. But you know what? I got a job at a startup within a month and have carved out a life here for myself (despite breaking up with that boyfriend after 3 years) for seven years. Seven. Years! (Waaaay longer than I had ever intended.)
I have to be honest though, I never fell in love with San Francisco. There are some aspects of the city I love (the snobby coffee, the perpetual autumnal weather, the fact that I can have anything delivered to my house via an app on my phone, etc.) but overall I find the culture of the city to be lacking in interest for me. That fact, coupled with the insane cost of living here, is why my feet have been itching to leave. When I got laid off from my job in August 2014 I knew I was ready for a big change. However, in literally the same month as my lay off, I also started dating my partner Rob. And I ended up staying, because that relationship flourished so strongly and so quickly. I spent 2015 job hunting while also doing some freelance work and traveling a lot.
I don’t regret staying, but the itch for change never went away. I wanted a change so I started thinking seriously about moving again, specifically moving abroad because I want a new and interesting challenge. About a year ago I started talking to Rob about moving abroad. I knew he needed a graduate degree to move up the pay scale as a teacher, and I also knew we couldn’t afford that here. I knew higher education is free (basically, it’s covered by taxes and some minor registration fees), even for international students, in Germany. Germany also has a thriving tech industry, with most of the companies concentrated in Berlin. After researching some universities in Berlin that have graduate programs in English, I convinced Rob to apply.
After over a year of planning this move, we leave San Francisco in less than two weeks. Rob has his acceptance letter to the Freie Universitat Berlin to their graduate program in Mathematics and I’ve put in my notice at work. I’m actively interviewing with several tech companies in Berlin and have secured a sublet in the city for 6-7 months to start us off. We’re selling our furniture and have gone and sorted through all our belongings. Everything we’re bringing will fit into 4 checked suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 2 cats (who are our “personal items”). The rest that we want to keep but can’t take with us has been packed into moving boxes and shipped to my mom in Florida to be stored in her garage while we’re abroad.
The day of our flight out grows closer and closer. I almost can’t believe it’s finally happening, that we’re moving abroad, but looking at the suitcases in my hallway and my increasingly empty apartment is a reminder that it is. Just like when I moved to San Francisco, I don’t have a job lined up yet, I don’t have much savings to fall back on (though I do have family who are willing to help if I need it, thankfully), and I also don’t know much German (I only got through the first few lessons in DuoLingo before losing my streak). But I am so, so excited to begin this next adventure, especially with Rob coming along with me. And I hope to share it with all of you as we go along! Rob has a Facebook page for his “Adventures in Education” which he posts to fairly frequently, and I will be writing blog posts here and possibly making some YT videos (those are lower priority as it’s very time-consuming and more difficult to produce videos vs blog posts for me at the moment).
If you have any questions about the move or a topic suggestion for what I should cover about moving abroad in upcoming posts, please leave a comment and let me know! You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.