The thing about living in a foreign country is that the way you experience the country is entirely different than if you were travelling. (No shit, Sherlock. Iâ€™m so glad my three-week writerâ€™s block has lifted long enough for me to write this drivel out for you.)
Iâ€™ve been back in Canada for about sevenÂ months now and it still seems bizarre to me that I lived in Germany. And while I did a LOT during my year in Berlin, I have SO MANY REGRETS, you guys.
I know youâ€™re not supposed to have regrets or any of that bullshit, but guess what? I do. Expats, commiserate. Readers, take a lesson from me.
I wish I had budgeted better
I spent money in Germany like my ship was going down and I only had a few hours left to party my life away. After I completed the Camino in April, I was basically too broke to afford life. I donâ€™t feel sorry for myself â€“ I was a fucking idiot. It’s all on me.
I should have foreseen the hardships of a near-empty bank account ahead of time. If I had been in a better position, I would have applied for my freelance visa and stayed onboard in Berlin. There was no way I could afford it, and I was heartbroken.
As life turns out, though, Iâ€™m quite happy with my current situation in St. Johnâ€™s and have been plumping up my savings since September. So, maybe it was a good lesson in planning for the future and having some self-control.
*slides empty box of cookies out of sight*
I wish I had seen more of Germany
I spent almost all of my time in my happy like Berlin bubble â€“ which, from what I know, seems to happen to a good many of Berlin’s expats.
I got out and explored a lot of other places in Europe, but with GermanyÂ I barely scratched the surface. I went to Munich for Oktoberfest, and checked out the area around Saxon-Switzerland. That’s it.
I didnâ€™t even make it to freaking Hamburg or Leipzig, both of which areÂ within two hours by bus from Berlin. I even had a friend to stay with in Leipzig. I didnâ€™t make it to the German lakes or the North Sea. I actually hate myself for this.
I didnâ€™t do much dating
I went on ONE date my entire time in Berlin, with a Greek man who became so pushy and assertive that I left the bar sobbing. I was so discouraged after that experience, I didnâ€™t bother to keep looking.
Now, living in St. Johnâ€™s where my options make me want to weep on a daily basis, I can see that I should have better embraced the variety and absurdity of the dating options in Berlin. I was living in a city of 3.5 MILLION PEOPLE. Surely there was someone to suit me, somewhere?!
Now as Iâ€™m swiping left through all the Tinder profiles of men proudly holding fish, or images of oversized trucks and jacked-up ATVs, I want the limitless possibilities of big city dating. Iâ€™d even take the leather fetish dudes that routinely showed up in my apps.
I LOVE German guys, and Northern European men in general — we always have awesome connections. They’re my people. Plus they’re hot.
Or hell, maybe Iâ€™d get out and meet someone IRL.
But then again, probably not.
I didnâ€™t take the time to learn German
Iâ€™ve been using Duolingo for a few years now, and while it has actually been a hugely helpful aid in basic German, I canâ€™t believe I didnâ€™t dive into some intensive classes while actually living in the country.
I always had so many spontaneous trips planned; it was hard to commit to a timeline for classes. And, of course, I didnâ€™t have any money.
But I feel like my cultural experiences there would have been so much more enriching if I could just stumble my way through awkward German conversation, ja? Maybe would have helped the dating thing a bit too.
A German guy on a train once told me he liked the way I looked, though, and then gave me his phone number on a piece of paper with a smiley face drawn next to it in case I ever wanted to do some tandem language classes. Again, dating fail.
I didnâ€™t take advantage of Berlinâ€™s art scene
I really did live it up in Berlin, but there was a whole level of immersion I never really got into: the arts scene. Now that Iâ€™m actually working in the arts, I feel like I missed out on something big.
At the beginning of my year, I went to a reading in an old crematorium in Wedding. I was so inspired at the time; I vowed to keep going to such events. Guess how many others I went to? Nada.
Do you have regrets about living abroad?
The good thing, I suppose, is that this doesn’t mean my time in Germany has come to an end. If there’s aÂ next time, I’ll do it right.