Building my new life in the black forest, day by day

Three weeks til the semester ends. Then my real work begins. By the end of September I’ll have finished my first year here. As to how the next year will look, I’m too afraid to try and imagine.

Fear. Such a strange concept for this normally fearless chica.

Well what can I say about this latest transition. 99% of the time I am distracting myself from the fact that everything about my day-to-day life is a major step-down from what I had in Nbg.

I think the fear of failing this very hard semester is quite normal, and that’s usually what causes procrastination anyway. But I mean, in terms of being afraid how much longer it’ll take for the long distance thing to end, I feel most relationships end because two people start growing in two opposite directions, and what is growing in opposite directions but a collection of daily habits and decisions that don’t include the other person?

Another year of this? No thanks.

But moaning about a new transition is stupid. I mean it was my decision and it’s a good decision. So what finding new bread, water, groceries is different! Some things, well a lot of things really have turned out to be better, and it’s not like I moved to a new country.

Yeah I’ve got no money. Yeah I’ve got student loans. Yeah I’m kinda trapped in my visa, without being able to take a break if something happens, but we can cross those bridges later if need be. Yeah I’m living in a dorm with a filthy child, but we all were filthy children once. Yeah at least 4 nights a week people stumble out of the bar 200 feet away screaming and keeping me up til 2 am at least and coming here to party every weekend. But I’m not such a light sleeper and anyway the ground floor means that my room in incredibly cool, despite the heat and it’s another motivation to get away for the weekend myself. Also who can complain about having a park right outside where they can go sunbathing between classes?

Yeah my classmates are all much younger than me and they aren’t at a point in their lives yet where family means anything positive. I know they sneer at me for wanting to have children because in Germany going to work with children means you’re a bad mother, and they really can’t imagine that I will be able to shrug off this stupid judgmental culture as not being my own, (whereas they will never be able to). But I was all about career when I was 23. In 4 or 5 years they might be surprised how much things change. I know that once we get married I will start losing all the connections I’ve made here, but you know for once I can see it in advance, and I’ll just stay grounded in what is real and not paint fantasy connections where they don’t exist.

So who cares that I feel misunderstood? I guess it’s way better than what I’ve sometimes witnessed with an older woman in a group where people start to feel sorry for her because they think she is old and bitter. I guess (relatively speaking) I might be old and bitter, but I don’t look like it, so people assume I’m like them and think I’m ok.

I’m too old to be living a student’s life, but it’s only temporary and thank god it is cheap and allows me to focus almost exclusively on my classes.

But since I am being so honest here, everything, everything here that I’ve written about would be nothing, minor issues, little gnats swarming brushed away with a wave, but the joy is gone from my life. My bf, my students were my joy, my laughter, my reason to be a better person. If my bf were here, all this would fly over my head and I’d be the same silly girl busy with our life together and finding friends naturally. At least my bf will come back into my life eventually.

God how the hole in my heart the children carved out day-by-day over three years echoes with emptiness. I can’t say enough how much I miss them. I talk with them on fb and that is really helpful (and why I am on it so much, honestly I need to check in every day and see what they are up to), but it’s a new territory and it’s not always easy. I know I will keep in contact with many of them and that makes me feel incredibly relieved. I write to say I miss them, they say it back but miss me less. And I know they have other people who’ve come in their lives and filled the place I left, and that’s what’s best and normal for them. But sometimes I worry that isn’t the case. I want to be there for them. Take my little boy (well 15 but to me always little) who I’ve known for 4 years now, always so quiet, but so capable and funny, last year we got through a tough year with his puberty together that drove me crazy. I wished him happy birthday and he wrote back asking if I’d be coming back to say hi and catch up. I won’t lie it destroyed me. I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t even write him back.

That’s the state of my emotions; either I start bawling at the touch of a feather or I ruthlessly pursue my educational goals, unafraid of what other think of me. They aren’t my family, friends, or children. If I don’t know I ask. If I have something to say, I speak up. If this means others think I am a bitch, that’s their fault. I didn’t give up the two most amazing things to come into my life and save for 3 years, to sit back and be too afraid to make the most out of it. Besides if a guy can do it this way, then so can I. And anyone who’s not supportive is just a barrier to be ignored.

But I can’t turn this self-defensive thing off. I don’t feel normal. I don’t feel like a decent person. Everything is focused on me and my goals, which is ok, but this sort of selfish life is not what makes me happy. That’s why I keep telling the bf I want a dog. I need people to look after and spoil. I need kids to make laugh; I want the bf here to spoil; I want a spare room to look after house guests. I want a balcony with little plants to grow or a little kitten to look after. I want to distract myself from myself. I don’t want new friends. As I mentioned I am not confident they will stick around, so it would be unwise to invest time there rather than in my education. Besides how can you make new friends when you feel like your personality has been reduced to stereotypes and your student life doesn’t truly reflect your capabilities and passions?

What do I wish? I wish this “transitional” period were to end soon, so that I wouldn’t have to try so hard to act and feel normal. I will be teaching kids in the fall and I think it will do me a world of good to be littlemsami again, with little 11 year-olds full of hugs and laughter. If my bf manages to get out here this summer/fall, then we will start having shared experiences here and escape from the stress of the pressure we are under to meet our goals.

Anyway enough of my whiny update. I’ll forge on with the rest of my work this semester and hopefully the next post will have some new positive developments. 😀 At least the end is in sight.



I wrote this post and then immediately the week after, I messaged about 20 different former pupils on fb to check in on them and we had the most amazing catch-up that did me a world of good. So I am happy to report that coming to terms with my feelings here, made me realize what I could do to change it and the kids were very happy to hear from me and tell me their news. And that made me feel like myself again.