It won’t feel real until you’ve landed in the airport.
That’s what everyone keeps telling me. And while that may be true for some people who move away, it won’t feel like it the second I arrive, not completely. My move to Berlin is a little over three weeks away. Remember, when I hinted at it in December, and then finally wrote a full-length post about it in May, followed by another two-month countdown post? I feel like it was a week ago that I told everyone, including my parents, that I was going to leave New York for what I hope to be a long while. Now, I’m weeks away, with my going away party planned for this Saturday. The feeling feels more unreal every time I look at a calendar.
However, for me, I don’t think this move will feel real until that visa sticker is glued into my passport. Reason being? I’m used to being in Europe for long periods of time. From living in London for four months to taking month-long Euro trips every summer since I graduated college. The minute I land in Berlin will feel like I’m taking another holiday because that’s just what I’m used to doing. Besides, I won’t be going straight to Berlin from New York. I blame their lack of a proper airport. 😉 I’ll be flying into Berlin from Oslo since I’ll be there for three days doing exactly what I’m used to every summer – taking a vacation.
Landing in Berlin won’t feel legit until I’m there for longer than normal. It won’t feel real until I apply for my residence permit. Until I cry profusely because of all the bureaucracy that’s already driving me crazy. Until I’ve settled into my own place (even if it’s only short-term, because that’s the Berling housing market for you). Or until I try my best to make the city feel like home and then when it finally does. I’m not sure how long that will take, but maybe not flying back to New York for a while (yes, Mom, after the holidays of course), will do the trick.
It’s the three-week mark until I leave for my little vacation to Norway, which makes Germany seem so much closer. Because then it will be. So, here’s what I’ve been feeling.
1. Complete and utter excitement.
Anyone who knows me personally can attest to how excited I am to move to Europe… or out of America, rather. Friends of mine have probably waited for this day as long as I have. The “so, when are you moving permanently?” and “weren’t you just in Europe?” questions will finally cease to exist after September because it’ll finally be true. I think about all the new places I’m going to see and people I’m going to meet, and more broadly, the new experiences I’ll have in Berlin that I’ll have simply by being “a stranger in a strange land” and of course, by being a foreigner. But also by going to school, by living a more independent life, even potentially becoming a different, better version of myself. That’s pretty damn exciting, isn’t it?
2. Complete and utter fear.
Yet, knowing me (and my anxiety that I’m not going to try and hide), being excited isn’t enough. How dare I be happy for once? Of course, nothing good ever comes easy. The prospect of all my new experiences scares me because it feels like I’ll be leaving behind all of my old ones. All of my friends, my family, the city that I’ve grown up in and the person it has made me out to be. The prospects that make me excited about moving abroad also scare the hell out of me. It’s going to be really difficult at first, and at times, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to handle it. I’m afraid that all the good feelings I feel now will disappear when I realize that moving to a different country is going to be just that. DIFFERENT. Yet, it’s human nature to be afraid of what we can’t understand, of what we don’t know. I’ve accepted that fate that after Septmber, I don’t know what my life is going to look like in Berlin. But it’s not like I’m moving without any prior knowledge or research; I wouldn’t dare. But either way, I can’t help feeling fear because it’s just so human to.
3. Crippling resentment and plaguing self-doubt.
To be honest, doubting myself might be a worse feeling than fear. There is nothing like self-doubt to make you feel like you’ve completely made the wrong decision. If you watch Game of Thrones, here’s a reference I hope you can relate to help you understand my sentiment. Remember, during Battle of the Bastards, when Sansa was practically begging Jon to hold off on going at Ramsay, especially since his army was much smaller than the Boltons’? Jon, being the stubborn, anxious bastard that he is decided to go anyway, even though he knew Sansa was right. Here’s where I stand. I’m torn between being Sansa and being Jon. Deep down inside, I know I could’ve waited and planned better…and definitely saved more money, too. But I pulled a Jon and decided to go at it anyway. Sometimes, I resent myself for my decisions and therefore, my actions. Sometimes, I say to myself, “maybe I should have waited.” It would have saved me headache, heartache, and LOTS of stress and tears. It pains me to resent myself, especially since my decision to go abroad most likely won’t perfectly pan out the way I hope or wish anyway. But if a television show is any indication of anything, remember: Jon wins that battle at the end.
4. “Fuck it. YOLO.”
I feel this the least, but when I do, damn, it feels good. After I overthink every little thing that can happen or that can go wrong upon my arrival, I stop and humble myself. I tell myself that this is what I’ve wanted for a long time. That further education can NEVER be a bad thing. That I will never regret spending my money on these new, enriching experiences. That having the passport that I do and being able to move to another country without having to worry about being denied entry is a privilege. That doing this is brave, even though it is also challenging. That I am one of the thousands of others to have done this before. That I’m also one of few in my immediate circle who will ever do this. If I fail, it means growth. If I succeed, it also means growth. And like a friend said to me so boldly, YOLO. You really do only live once, so might as well live it as unapologetically, foolishly and fearlessly as you can, right?