I have read that there are three different kind of expats. The ones who completely integrate in their new host country and adapt. The ones who don't integrate at all. And the ones who adapt to some customs of the new host country while also keeping lots of their own. I see myself as belonging to the later group.
There are also many reasons for becoming an expat- moving countries for a job, sense of adventure, moving for love. Some expats come
and go - they live in Germany for a few months or maybe years but ultimately return to their home country- their Heimat. There are fewer of us
however, who are probably going to be here for the long haul.
There have definitely been times when as an expat, you can feel like a fish out of water. Like you don't belong. I could relate to this post by fellow blogger about
the isolation you can feel living in a new country:expat isolation and loneliness
Travelling home, I've had moments where I just felt such relief once I got to the airport and heard other people with Irish accents around me
and just to be able to understand everything! And once home, it's so nice to be able to talk to someone in a shop or a restaurant and be
understood, and every little thing, doesn't feel like an ordeal! That was was how I felt at first. My German has improved a LOT now, so that
most times out and about in cafes, restaurants, trams etc I am understood.
How will living in Germany change me? Sometimes I feel like I am more shy here and not myself. That's mainly due to the language. But this
is getting better. I have heard lots of people say it took them 3 years of living in Germany before they were really fluent.
Maybe I will become more "European" like one of my aunts said. What would that entail exactly? One positive aspect of being an expat
makes you more independent as a person- you realise you can cope in a lot of situations you didn't think you could!
I mentioned earlier that I have to carve out a life for myself over here. When I first moved over and started living with my GerMann, I was
very dependent on him. I didn't have much of my own life here at the start at all. That was tough at times. Once I got a job here that helped a lot. And then
the more I gradually made friends and developed a routine the better things got. It's not too hard to make acquaintances but it takes time to make really good friends. Ones
who you can talk about everything with and depend on. I have reached the stage now that I have some great friends here, but
for a few months at the start it was tough. Apart from my boyfriend I didn't really have anyone to talk to- past the chit-chat/small talk level.
I have heard from some long standing expats that you feel gradually more distanced from you "home" country as the years pass. So that you
don't feel "at home" in either country. Another (and much nicer) way of looking at it though, is that you have two homes.
Germany is gradually feeling more and more like home to me.
My wish for the future would be to adapt to German life, while still remaining me. I would love to reach a level of complete fluency in German - spoken and
written - where I can handle any situation, but also not lose my Irish accent (when speaking English)!
The GerMann and I have discussed it and it probably makes most sense for us to stay in Germany. So I shall continue with my ex-pat adventures!