I don’t know how most people deal with homesickness but the most serious side effect of living abroad is having to go through treacherously long periods of time without seeing your loved ones. I wouldn’t even attempt to dive in to the financial/logistical implications of the same.
I’m finally back in India for holidays after one solid year. I’ll spend a whopping total of 26 days away from Germany, 3 of which are spent on the plane/train/car and 6 on my upcoming trip to Sri Lanka making my net days spent at home a sad total of 17.
Averaging over a year that’s less than 1,5 days/month. Sigh.
Having lived far away for nearly the last 8 years, I have become used to seeing my family and friends less and less often. However less often still meant once a quarter or once every six months. Staying away for this long has not only made me grow emotionally a lot stronger but also to rely on no one but myself.
I don’t have an emergency contact in Germany. I don’t have some one to bail me out. I don’t have some one to pull the plug incase it were to come to that. I don’t have an official sponsor or for that matter a guardian. All I have is me. It’s challenging to be your sole caretaker-provider-life manager etcetera but also extremely rewarding.
Looking at a lot of my local German friends makes me realise how few of them actually wander far away from home. Most don’t even ever leave the state they grew up in. Some even consider living in another state long distance. The number of Germans living abroad long-term is less than 0.05%. India, on the other hand has the largest number of people living abroad in the world followed by Mexico and Russia. (Shocked? I was too.)
I wonder if this is purely a cultural thing or more to do with the fact that the uniform development of German states and access to good education/jobs makes a world of difference. Add to this free job mobility within EU, you would ideally never want to leave. If I had access to the best public universities in or around my hometown free of cost, with no limitation on quality/number of places without having to endure mind-boggling competition for the same, would I have still up and left?
The answer is probably yes.
The one thing during my year abroad that I have come to admire a lot about Germany is the insanely well-organised, inclusive and at the same time diversified system of education/training/working all throughout school and later. You want to learn how to be a professional bartender? Sure, there’s a way you could train for free and make money while you train and get an official diploma. You want to learn how to be a mechanic and then later go on to be an IT engineer? It’s possible. All without taking out value from what you’ve previously done. How crazy is this? Very few countries in the world have such a comprehensive system of jobs and related skill-sets to be recognised and actually applied in real life supported by the central state.
As a hyperactive and over-ambitious person, I was so used to seeing my education and career path as a linear trajectory. I forgot how much more of the world there really is to discover. Not just professionally, but also otherwise. Yet, I can’t help but wonder how different it would have been for me had I not lived in four different countries in the last couple of years. Needless to say I’ve paid through my nose for the same literally and otherwise, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
My life is rich in so many ways beyond the literal implication of the word.
The joy of understanding a third language and actually getting annoyed cause you can’t pretend to ignore the meaning is underrated. The joy of giving up on a long term plan and just taking things one week or one month at a time is underrated. The joy of having a weekend only to read, sleep, cook and look outside the window is underrated. The joy of discovering your pride in your own roots and culture through the lens of a new country is underrated. The joy of not constantly looking over your shoulder for the ‘next best opportunity’ or the ‘next best partner’ is underrated.
For the end of this year and the onset of the new one, I’d like to continue focusing on my present and the future will build itself the way it needs to.
I want to continue to invest in meaningful work and people who build me up and keep me grounded at the same time.
My resolution for 2018 is definitely to see my family and loved ones more often. If anything, living amidst Germans who are heavy nesters has made me appreciate the love and support mine offers, a lot more.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a great New Year!
Frohe Weihnachten und eine gutes Neues Jahr!