One of my goals of moving to Germany over 5 years ago was to be able to travel. To be in the center of Europe and be able to make daytrips in Germany and spend weekends in Italy and beyond.
Yeah, well. Being a traveler is one thing, being a part of working society, even as an expat, is something else. Any idea of spending every weekend traveling seems to fade when you realize the weekends are for laundry and errands, just like at home.
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Timecrunched Traveler is a blog that I enjoy by a couple that are currently expats in China. They wrote a post recently of things to see in China and lamented that they didn’t have the time to see it all while living there. It got me thinking about my own travel thoughts and goals.
I left my life in the US to get away. To get away from driving. To escape the consumerism. And to head toward stuff. To find a life that meant more travel and to pursue dreams that are often looked down upon by the US lifestyle.
And it worked. Well, sort of.
Here I am 5 years later, back in a job that requires me to be at the office every day. Though my commute is about 12 minutes of walking and tram or less than 7 in the summer on my bike. I don’t have a car nor have driven since I moved. Five weeks of vacation a year at work has meant that I do indeed have more freedom to travel than I did in the US. Trains (slowly now flights) means that Europe really is accessible. Far more than it was from the US.
I have seen amazing places that I never imagined. Portugal and Turkey just last year. Croatia and Greece a few years ago. So in that way the expat move HAS gotten me more travels. And yet, there is still the life stuff to deal with. Weekends are for laundry and errands.
However wonderful living abroad is, it is still life. You don’t get out of cleaning clothing and doing dishes, just because you live somewhere else. In fact it can actually be harder. Try sorting garbage into 4 different bins. Laundry seem annoying at home? Try doing it without a dryer. Or like I did, without a washer for 3 years.
Weekends are for laundry and errands.
The skills that make life awesome at home are the same that make life awesome abroad whether as an expat putting down roots in a place or as a nomad seeing the world. It takes being able to get the life stuff down without it being overwhelming. It takes still balancing chores and errands with life and work (yeah, living abroad isn’t free.) It takes patience (probably even WAY more of this than you need at home.)
This winter has been stressful, dark and cold. In that darkness, I have forgotten a lot of this stuff. But as spring returns, I remember things again. I am trying to reframe things in my head and get back into the habits that make me happy. As my friend Gigi writes, trying to get the mojo back.
Travel is definitely a part of this. But so is blogging and drawing and reading and writing and frolicking in the sun. Getting back to doing the things that I moved away as an expat to have the freedom to do.
And yet I still have to manage to do laundry on the weekends.