So, about a year ago, Michelle and I were preparing to launch this website. One of the first things we had to do before all the ‘housekeeping’ protocol involved in creating a website was to prepare an introduction — to showcase what viewers would expect from our platform. When I was writing our ‘Welcome‘ post, I wrote about a city I’d never been to before, but one that was on my list to visit and potentially take residence due to a graceful visa policy for Americans and freelancers alike. I remember drafting that post in March of last year. Little did I know, that not long after, I’d be visiting that city and an entire year after my visit, I’d be in the process of moving there.
In four months, I’ll be starting something new. In four months, I’ll be away from the city I call home and begin embarking on an adventure I never thought was possible. I’m excited to share that I will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Journalism this autumn in the heart and soul of a wonderful city that I have now visited and explored.
I’m moving to Berlin.
What stemmed from my desire to move to Berlin came subconsciously, evident at the fact that I’d never been there before, knew very little about the country and city in general, and even less of a word of German. But even with my limited knowledge of Germany as a whole, for some reason I was still interested and intruiged by it, so much so that I looked up “what’s a freelance visa and how to get one as an American?” Researching, pursuing, and getting accepted into a university abroad for a Master’s also came subconsciously.
I told myself after graduation back in 2015 that I wanted to do my Master’s, not right away but not too far out into my career either. I didn’t know where or what I would pursue, but I knew that preferably, I didn’t want to do it at home. The high cost of living in New York along with the ridiculous amount of money it costs to enroll in graduate programs in the US (even at the less expensive schools), wasn’t a valid enough reason for me to acquire more student debt, even though I wanted to continue my education anyway. It’s now been almost two years since graduation.
I guess I’m a woman of my word.
After an incredible month I had traveling around Europe last summer, I knew I had to be back for good. I had done the whole three week Euro Trip after graduation two years back and then immediately got into a full-time job. I left that job shortly thereafter, only to find myself traveling again. Boston, Toronto, all over Costa Rica, and then back to Europe just as the summer ended. Yet, it was during this last trip across the Atlantic that I knew I had to be away from America and away from NYC long term. I’m not entirely sure how long I’ll be away for in the grand scheme of my life, but for right now, I lucked out in finding this course. My program will be TWO YEARS long, and completely taught in English, with the opportunity for a visa extension of 18 months to find a job right after, since Germany likes to keep its skilled workers in, well, Germany (but only if you know the language, which…I’m working on).
If I’m being completely honest, Germany wasn’t really on my radar until recently. When I came back from studying abroad in London in 2013, I wanted nothing more than to be back there. London is, to this day, my favorite city that I’ve ever been to. But slowly, I started to realise that moving there would not only be incredibly price draining for me, but also borderline impossible. Now with BREXIT, it seems even less likely so. No, I don’t want to give up my dreams of moving to London. A small part in the back of my brain still has lifelong dreams? goals? of living there in my 30s/40s, when my career is up and running, but that’s too far ahead to think about.
Did I ever anticipate Germany to be the first country I’d move to when I finally moved to Europe? I didn’t, and I’m not sure why not. The country has one of the highest standards of living in Europe, yet isn’t as expensive (depending on where you are) as some of its neighbors, like Switzerland, Denmark, or France. Education, if it’s publicly funded, is also entirely free for both national and international students. Beer is cheaper than water. They have a pretty brutal history that they have handled with grace and acknowledgement, have the highest GDP in Europe, as well as some amazing ties outside of the EU, especially with America, are home to some incredible castles and gorgeous countrysides. And last but not least, home to over 300 types of bread (more than Italy or France, surprisingly). If you know me, you know how much of a BIG DEAL that is.
That isn’t even the half of it, but I’m still stunted at myself for not realizing what a catch Germany is. It’s like the sexy older brother that didn’t really go out much and was quite shy, while England, Italy and France were hogging the spotlight with confidence and charm. It was only after Germany’s opened its shell that, HOT DAMN, then you know he’d arrived.
And don’t even get me started on Berlin: an artist’s mecca, an incredible, random and diverse music scene, start ups on start ups, culture and history that you can physically see and touch, amazing food, networking events galore – I could go on. It’s a HUGE, diverse city with great public transport, with something always happening, and with international people at every step. It’s like New York, but it’s also not New York and that’s exactly why it fits perfectly.
HONEST MOMENT HERE: am I ‘glamorizing’ what could be of this? Absolutely. I’m always glamorizing Europe, anyone who knows me knows that, but that’s okay. I’m allowed. I’ve never lived abroad and I’ve always wanted to. New York City will always be home base. but it isn’t what I want right now. And with the state of my country right now, I think it’s the most opportune chance I have. I know I need to leave for a little bit, maybe forever, so why not right now? ‘If you love something, set it free,’ right?
In short, this really is an opportunity like no other for me. Growing up, living studying my entire life in New York, I never got to go away or live on my own long term. I’d like to consider myself an independent person by default, but I still rely on my family for a lot of things, just because I never had to move away or struggle at that level, because at the end of day, I was always going back home.
That’s not to say I’ve had an easy life – I haven’t. This past year also hasn’t been very kind to me either mentally, but the life experience I know I’m going to gain from this opportunity is much needed for me now that I’m 23 and thinking ahead. That’s not to say things are going to be easy abroad either. I know they’re not. My mother continues to remind me that they damn well won’t be. It’s going to be hard. Tbh, as much as I’m excited, I’m also fucking terrified, excuse my French, I don’t know that word in German, yet. There’s only so much that the Internet or YouTube can help me understand. So yes, I’m grateful. I’m stoked for what’s to come, but I’m also scared, too. And I’m here to say that it’s okay to be scared. I’m telling myself that it’s okay to go into something not knowing the entirety of the situation. That it’s good to be nervous, only so, if you’re not in danger, and with everything that growing up in NYC has taught me, I won’t be.
I’m finally leaving home and growing up. I hope to take you all on that adventure with me, while Michelle holds down the fort in NYC, until she decides to leave long-term, too. I still have some time here to wreak havoc and get everything together though. It’s been 8 months since I came back from visiting Berlin. And in September, I’ll be living there. Who would’ve thought? Life is full of surprises. So, until then.
Feel free to ask any questions or share your experiences on moving away in the comments below!