April 12, 2013

What I will miss - and what I am looking forward to.

Plus and minuses with moving

Moving away is a process, it is not just about packing your bags and go, it is not just about what you are going to, it is also about what you are leaving behind.

flower macro - AK-thenextchapter.blotspot.com
Düsseldorf has become my home over the past few years. The fact that I was born elsewhere is in this case not relevant: When I left Scandinavia I knew it was for good, I never planned to move back, but I got my one-way ticket and I left, and since then I have never looked back. I have missed people, especially children that I once knew that are now growing up, because things happen so fast, but where there is a will there is a way and you can stay together, stay connected.

Leaving Düsseldorf will be more of a challenge. I know that there are plenty of things I will miss, some of them enormously - but it is never the less time to get going. Unlike with Sweden I do keep a connection to Düsseldorf, Germany though - but I know that the day I step on that plane Düsseldorf will continue to change without me. Some things will remain the same, for a while or for a longer time, other things will inevitably change and change fast.

AK-thenextchapter.blotspot.comThe most important part is people; I will miss the people of Düsseldorf tremendously, there is good feeling when you at any random day can go out in the city and you know that you will find some people you know, even if not all are people you would share a deeper connection with, some may "just"be someone who is fun to share a coffee with - that's OK too.  But people move on, people come and go - it is a part of being an expat - and I know I will see many of them again.

But other things I will truly miss with Düsseldorf: The smallness of it all -  knowing I can walk home in the middle of the night, without ever having to worry. Knowing that the walk home will not be very long and knowing that it is very safe. On the other hand I am a big city girl and I love the fast pace of a big city, and I love how you can "disappear" in a big city without having to run into people you know, sometimes that is needed, be someone else for a moment. Today I am getting the mix of being anonymous and being familiar with everything  that I desperately need through a lot of travelling. But I can't always be on the road, the more restless I get, the more I feel I HAVE to travel.

The nature. Düsseldorf is a very green city, with plenty of parks, and the river flows through it like a big artery. It's gorgeous, and you are so close to the green. On the other hand, compared to Sweden, my native country, there is very little green in Germany, or at least the green has to be shared with a lot of people, and everything is very organised and structured, you can't just stop and walk into the forest, there may be a fence closing your path off.. There are not a lot of big forests for you to get lost in, but I really believe that Germany, or at least my adopted home town, Düsseldorf, is far better at having parks that are open and used by everyone.

BBQ - AK-thenextchapter.blotspot.com
Random BBQ on a Tuesday night, or BBQ:s and random gatherings in general, just because the weather is so nice. I am sure I will find that in some of the locations I will see and live in in the years to come, but it takes a while before you build a network the way I have here, and I know that it will require some effort from myself. I don't mind, fact is I love it, but it IS comfortable when, on a random day, you get a message saying "let's meet in an hour for BBQ". It's something that is, I believe, rather unique for Düsseldorf, I doubt you have as much of it in other parts of Germany, and I know it is rare in Sweden, where life is very organised and you have to have a reservation weeks before. To be honest I don't think  this works with everybody in Germany either, but I am surrounded by spontaneous people.

Sitting at a cafe, enjoying a coffee and some cake, with no worries in the world. Alone if you chose to, with friends if that's what you want. Sure, I find nice cafes wherever I go, I am Swedish after all, and coffee is a very important part of our culture, but the charm with Düsseldorf is that I know the city so well and I know my cafes and recognise other guests, and the likelihood for other friends passing is rather high.

Coffee - AK-thenextchapter.blotspot.comLong bike tours. Taiwan is lovely but it is hilly in a way that Düsseldorf isn't, and even if there are good bike paths there, I will have to get to know them, learn the city and the country a bit better before I can start getting out in nature, at least for biking. On the other hand Taiwan has a lot of hiking and other nature experiences, in a way that Germany doesn't necessarily, at least not NRW, the state I am living in.

On the other hand, long bike tours and hikes and so forth, this is something that you can find in many places and I am also looking forward to doing just that, be outside a lot more, not sitting still. Fact is, I talk about moving around and being outside a lot more than I actually am here in Germany, because so much of my time goes to work. I am looking forward to a change in lifestyle, a change in what I do and how I spend my days. Life is short and I want to make the most of it, I do want to do what is good for me, not what I have to do; I don't believe the human body was made for sitting still as much as we do (and I have never been sitting still so much at work as I have the last few years, now that everything is supposed to happen in front of the screen.) - I know that at least my body wasn't made for this. I need to move, it is only when I move that I feel good, that I feel well, that I feel productive. I had a boss once who said to me that "maybe I shouldn't do so much but take it easy and sit still sometimes, it is good for you". It was probably the worst advice I have ever been given.

What I am looking forward to having in my new location: Food shops that are actually open on Sundays. In general, being able to go to the shop if I forgot something on a Sunday - Germany still doesn't allow shops to keep open, except in connection with travel (train stations, airports) on a Sunday. On one hand that creates a certain peace for someone like me who doesn't like shopping, no one can suggest going shopping on a Sunday and giving me problems coming up with an excuse - although nowadays I don't really need an excuse, I have learnt to say no... But at the same time Saturdays in Germany are rather stressful  when you have to run around buying everything on that one day.
Beach party - AK-thenextchapter.blotspot.com
Being closer to nature. Germany is beautiful and the parks are amazing, but it is more of a challenge to find areas that you can just go out and explore on your own. There are a lot of people and there is limited amount of green.

Moving around, not sitting still. Although of course there will be a degree of sitting still as well, but not like today. I will study Chinese and I will study some other topics to prepare for my future changes, but there will be another type of flexibility - or at least that's what I hope for. 

Freedom. Not the least from things. I am working hard on de-cluttering, and it is creating a lot of energy and is very liberating. I realise I have been carrying too much stuff with me, in more than one way. 

The sea! I miss being close to the sea more than you can imagine, more than I could imagine. In the beginning I didn't notice it, didn't see it, until I got to the sea and could smell the salt in the air, but with time it has become more and more clear to me how much I really miss it. I cannot be so far from the sea again, not for a longer period of time - I need the sea and the open water to feel good.

2013 and forward will be an exciting and amazing time. My time is now!