A Messy Start to Life in Germany

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My first eight months in Germany were really tough, and very messy. Not at all the way I had imagined my first months in a new country.

While in the middle of the messiness, I questioned whether I had made the right decision to move to abroad. I wondered: had I made a mistake in pursuing my dream?

It’s not that I didn’t expect it to be difficult

When I first arrived here, I had a good idea of what was ahead of me. I realized it would be challenging getting adjusted to a new country, a new way of life, and a new language. I was prepared that.

In fact, I looked forward to, and was excited about, the transition. It was part of the adventure of moving abroad – getting out of my comfort zone, and experiencing the newness of it all.

I also knew my first few months here would be hectic. I came in on a three-month tourist visa. I had a limited amount of time to comply with German law and obtain a resident permit.

Things were tough, but in a good way. I understood I was going through a process. Moving to Germany was what I wanted, and I believed life would get easier with time.

What I wasn’t prepared for: the unexpected, complications, things going wrong

Two months after I moved here, I fell down three stairs in my apartment building. I broke my left ankle in three different places. It was a major injury that required surgery, 11 days in the hospital, six weeks of healing, and five months of physiotherapy.

The accident itself woke me up from the fog of everyday life, and reminded me what was most important: being alive.

Unfortunately, it happened at the worst possible time. The injury complicated my transition, and made an already tough time even more difficult.

It also created a lot of internal messiness

During those awful months, when there was no end in sight to my ankle getting better, I lost perspective.

For a time, I felt sorry for myself. The ankle injury was not part of the plan. My new life in a new country with a new love was not supposed to unfold in this way. I was angry and disappointed with how things had turned out.

What I struggled with most was how my situation had changed: so quickly, unexpectedly, and randomly. I lost my footing going down a stair. And just like that: my life, the transition, the excitement of settling in a new country, it all came to a crashing halt.

Although a part of me knew that the injury was a setback, and that things would improve with time, another part of me resisted accepting reality. A reality I hadn’t anticipated.

I was too thick in the weeds, too caught up in the details of what had happened, to appreciate the bigger picture.

Life eventually worked itself out

Six months after the injury, my ankle was strong enough for me to get around on my own. At last, I had my independence back. That was huge.

After months of being confined to my apartment, and dependent upon others, I was eager to pick up where I had left off earlier. I jumped back into the process of transitioning to a new country.

Since then, I’ve gotten my life in order. Gradually. One step at a time.

A year after the injury, I’m finally established here. I still face challenges, and it’s not always easy, but this new world is now home. My daily life feels familiar. It’s no longer my new normal. It’s just my normal.

The last few months have shown me that I can do it. I can move to a new country, and slowly over time, I can get adjusted, and make the transition – even after a major accident. That feels awesome.

The gift that resulted from the injury

While I’m not glad that the accident happened, I do accept it. Whether planned or not, it was part of my journey this past year, part of my transitioning to a new country. I’m at peace about that.

Thanks to the injury, and the messiness of those first few months, I have a greater appreciation for where I’m at right now. And for all I’ve accomplished since I arrived here.

It means more to me because I had to work so hard to get here. And because, for awhile, I didn’t think I would.

But I did.

After several rough years in Raleigh, I’m living the next chapter of my life. No matter how bumpy the start may have been, I’m grateful for that.

I have no regrets about my decision to move to Germany. Even with the messiness, the journey has been worth it.

* Photo credit: Image from Flickr by Claudio Saavedra