When I started this column, I wrote of how powerful words can be. Simple sayings like “live your life to the fullest,” or “treat every day as your last” can carry the most resonant truths. I hearken back to both as I say farewell to my life overseas.
This year in Germany has allowed me to peer into my life like a snow globe, each flake representing bits and pieces of my existence, all creating a scenic blur. The longer I was here, the more the snow has settled; I can finally see things in the clear. My travels, my au pair family, everything that I have learned about myself — all are memories that will never tarnish or fade.
When I set out, more than anything I wanted to see the world. I wanted to be part of another culture, to see life from a different point of view. And looking back, I accomplished exactly that.
I have traveled Germany extensively, and that alone has been a source of complete satisfaction. I have been to the United Kingdom, where I lost myself in some terrible but awesome British pop music. I traveled to Belgium and Luxembourg, with their prominent French influence. I saw the Czech Republic and stepped into the picturesque otherworld that is Prague. I went to the Netherlands… and have some very hazy memories of Amsterdam. I skied the beautiful Swiss Alps.
And before I return to the States, I will enjoy one last trip through Spain, Morocco and Italy. Words cannot describe how lucky I feel. I have met so many great people, and have formed friendships that will last a lifetime and which have made my travels that much richer.
I can honestly say, though, it was a difficult adjustment to call my home also my workplace. What a weird feeling it was to have my bosses sleeping in the room right below me. Being part of another family’s world has got to be the strangest but most unique opportunity so far in my life, but I have created an amazing bond with them. I look forward to seeing where life will take them.
As I reflect, I can truthfully say I have no regrets. The life I left in Milwaukee will return if it’s meant to be. What I have experienced overseas I believe was intended for me to see. I have taken every second I had here and run with it.
When I leave Europe, I know that if nothing else, I will feel a sense of accomplishment. I did the best I could. Besides taking care of two young children and running a household, I made my own life outside of my au pair family. It will be terribly hard to leave that. But at the same time, knowing that I have created such a life gives me the confidence and eagerness to see what happens next.
I know my goodbyes in Germany are not forever, and I truly believe I will live here once again. But until then, I thank you for sharing this journey with me.