We are starting a new series on the blog called “Student Voices.” Our language and culture trainees will share various experiences and insights about their expatriation. We’re pleased to have Romana kick off the series with her thoughts on going home to Germany after a year-and-a-half in South Carolina.
Hi, I’m Romana, and luckily for me, I married someone who has inserted some adventure into my life. The adventure started in April 2018 when my husband, my seven-month-old son Krispin, and I arrived in Upstate South Carolina. I had heard about many challenges non-working spouses could have, so I decided to find my own way of living a happy life. Today, one-and-a-half years later, I am looking back at one of the best times in my life.
Personal Goals for My Time in America
From the first day, I followed my personal goals. I wrote them down and placed them on my vision board, where I could see them every day. Each achieved goal changed and developed me.
I improved my English conversation and writing skills and started to love the language. My weekly one-to-one and very high-quality English lessons made my English better. Listening to English podcasts and radio stations was also very helpful.
Another goal was to jump into the culture. I wanted to learn how Americans think, and to discover their daily life. Fortunately, I made a lot of American friends. My little son and his big smile helped me a lot. But this was only one of many aspects.
Americans love handwritten letters, and I loved to write them and take them to my neighbors. Friendships, especially in my neighborhood, started to grow. Step by step I found other active people, and we started to walk and run together. Soon I had a variety of weekly social activities. I invited Americans to our house and cooked German food. I loved being part of American birthday parties, barbecues, game nights, and events like Thanksgiving and baby showers.
To stay in love with my husband was one of my most important goals. Without any family help, time for only the two of us was rare. We found our way though. While my son went to childcare two half-days a week, we had lunch dates. Beyond that, lovely kisses every day and little evening rituals helped us a lot.
I also realized some personal projects. My friend and running partner Janet is a fifth grade teacher, and she invited me to do a presentation for her class. I spoke about my grandma’s experiences during World War II, compared German and American teenagers, and talked about Munich.
Other projects followed, like training in Tae Kwon Do at Master Kim’s World Class School. I also worked on personal development and on new job ideas for the future. I finally finished my family picture project. This summer I hosted a very special 33rd multicultural birthday party, and during the winter I created English Christmas Cards for all of my American and German friends.
Aside from all of this, there were things I didn’t expect or plan. They just happened and made my daily life interesting and full of personal insights:
● The German language sounds hard for Americans but they love Germany. For this reason, my son and I spoke English and not German. Often it was the beginning of wonderful conversations with interested Americans who wanted to know where we were from.
● Americans love children, including my little Krispin with the big smile. I enjoyed every friendly conversation and every smile we got.
● My English teacher became more than a teacher for me. She listened to me, understood me, helped me through difficult phases, and had lots of good ideas and advice.
● My husband organized amazing vacations (Mexico, Florida, road trip from San Francisco to Denver, goat farm North Carolina, Seabrook Island). After the first vacations I realized it’s tiring to travel with a toddler, but it’s completely worth it. I started to love traveling and discovering wonderful parts of the world.
● In South Carolina I became used to a slower way of life with a lot of sunshine and friendly people everywhere. After nine hectic years in Munich, living with my husband in a small apartment and following our careers, this adventure was perfect for us.
Going Home and What I’ve Gained
Now it’s the end of September 2019 and I’m sitting on this amazing beach at Seabrook Island. It’s warm and I feel sand between my toes. Seagulls in the sky and a light breeze make this moment perfect, but all good things must come to an end. Next week we are going to move back to Germany, but there are a lot of things I’ll keep with me. Life changes don’t scare me anymore. My identity has become clearer and stronger. After meeting other successful, happy, and satisfied women, I feel a lot of power to create my own path and realize my personal dreams.
Connecting with interesting people is one of the most important things to me, and it makes me happy. I’m so grateful to all the people I met who helped me in their own way.
My love for my husband grew with this adventure. Beyond his job and his triathlon goals, family was always the most important thing for him. He was full of understanding and help for me and our son. Our family is connected in such a special way, and that’s something that we will have everywhere in the world.