Weekends are for laundry
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.
February 28, 2013 @ 12:55 pm
Americans do think living in Europe is romantic. You travel every weekend, right !? 😉
We are a military family, so only here for three years or so. And I think our friends and families forget that life is still the same, for the most part. Yes, we can see and do pretty awesome stuff, but like you said, we still have chores and errands. Oh, and it’s not cheap here!
March 7, 2013 @ 9:19 pm
I don’t think of Germany as being must different cost-wise than where I was from in the US. Some things are cheaper, others more expensive. If you try to live a life that is very American in tone then it will be much more expensive. If you can adapt more to the local way (I expect mostly true no matter where), it will be cheaper.
Especially if you are here for a short time, it is important to make that balance work and see stuff. Enjoy the experience and tell your friends at home.
February 27, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
It’s tough, but not completely un-doable. Tim and I both work full time jobs. Unfortunately, his involves having a long commute to and from work everyday and basically being on call 24/7. I work from home, so it does make things like laundry during the week easier.
It’s just about finding a balance. Sure, our household still needs to run and errands still need to get done, but we try our best to get those things done during the week so we can have our weekends to enjoy.
I’m not sure about Germany, but we wouldn’t get much accomplished in the way of errands on the weekend anyway. Everything closes up by mid-day on Saturday and doesn’t re-open until after 2pm Monday afternoon.
March 7, 2013 @ 9:17 pm
Sunday is closed here too. In smaller villages, it is similar to Italy that stores are not open much past 2pm on Saturday. Thankfully Saturday is nearly a normal day here, though 10x as crowded as everyone tries to get their stuff done.
My point is mostly that living abroad is still living. It isn’t the same as traveling and vacationing abroad. The errands and realities of the local area are still realities, be it closed on Sunday or siesta or “what is this you call cheese?”.
February 27, 2013 @ 7:38 pm
Even the life of an expat isn’t always glamorous. I guess that’s a good reminder for the days when I am struggling with my own direction (like now).
February 27, 2013 @ 9:11 pm
I am glad it helps. Sorry to hear you are struggling. Take a deep breath.
February 26, 2013 @ 7:36 pm
Great post and I totally and utterly agree! Yes, on the one hand it is wonderful and exotic to live abroad, but on the other hand it IS real life and even harder and more lonely than normal life. But as I always say, in expat life, the highs are always higher and the lows are always lower. It’s a matter of having a life changing experience that will give you the adventure and challenges you seek.
February 26, 2013 @ 11:13 pm
I don’t really think of Germany as so exotic, but it definitely is a wonderful thing to do.
The extremes are more extreme. That is true of the non-exciting bits too perhaps. They are extremely not exciting.
The adventures have to be of your own making to an extent. The challenges though seem to come on their own.
Glad to hear that this resonates with other expats. Thanks.
February 26, 2013 @ 12:48 pm
Great points, Andy.
I’m sure a lot of people romanticize the life of expats in their own minds. Thanks for telling it like it is, with the good, the bad & the mundane.
February 26, 2013 @ 11:11 pm
Thanks and you are welcome. Sometimes these things just come out of my head. I try to force life to be what I want it to be. Sometimes it works and other times not.
February 26, 2013 @ 12:11 pm
Well said, friend. And thanks for the link!
February 26, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
Thanks. I really liked your post as well. This post is in lieu of a comment on yours.
February 27, 2013 @ 1:43 am
I’m flattered. 🙂