Over the past two months, I’ve learned that a lot of my friends and family members want to live in Paris – or at least that would be their top choice if given the opportunity to relocate to Europe. Spain and Italy are also popular, albeit vague, options. London comes up with some frequency, though it is rarely anyone’s first pick. Once in a while, I hear a Stockholm or Copenhagen, which warms my little Nordic-by-proxy heart.
Germany doesn’t get mentioned much. Even Berlin – arguably one of the hottest cities in the world right now – comes in at a distant sixth or seventh. Munich has never made the list, and if someone tries to add it, a great debate will ensue. I know this from experience.
Like most things in Berlin, the German Parliament building needed to be completely rebuilt after World War II. When they reconstructed the dome in the 1990s, they decided to use glass to represent the transparency of democracy. They also created a viewing deck that overlooks the debate floor, which serves as a reminder to lawmakers that they were not above the people who elected them. America, are you taking notes? This daily "resistory" lesson brought to you by #berlin #germany #history #resist #travel #travelgram #traveling #traveler #travelblog #travelblogger #view #blog #blogger
All that is my roundabout way of saying that I’ve decided to move to Munich and that no one else “gets it.”
The short explanation is that it’s work-related. When I informed my manager that I wanted to relocate to the EU to live with Ice Bath, I expected her to wish me well and tell me where to return my laptop. Instead, she pulled out all the stops to arrange an international transfer. Within weeks, she had secured the internal approvals, processed my paperwork and started a few arguments on my behalf.
Helsinki here I come – right?
Well, not quite. The only catch was that my company doesn’t have an office in Finland, so I would need to settle for another city in the EU. Stockholm would have been the closest option, but I’ve never been there and I don’t speak Swedish so that wouldn’t work too well. London might have been the easiest choice, but I have lived there and don’t care to do it again, so that was out too.
I settled on Munich because it seemed like it was the city that had the most checks in the “PRO” column. It’s centrally located, I enjoyed the time I spent there last year and I speak basic German. The office agreed to take me and now here we are: two suitcases and a connecting flight away from a brand new life.
I understand that this scenario raises a lot of questions: When do you start? Where will you live? How are you moving all your stuff? Why did you give up the nomadic life? I’m sure people wonder about all that too, but first they have a more pressing matter to attend to:
What about Johann?
I suppose I shouldn’t take it personally that my news of an international job offer is often met with a question about my boyfriend’s well-being, but I do. Moving to Germany is a major accomplishment and a major change and it seems both unfair and insensitive that people interpret it as a blow for Johann to bear than an event to celebrate with me.
“Am I overreacting?” I asked a friend. “Or are people just missing the point?”
“I think people are probably just curious about what’s going to happen to you two,” my friend explained. “And maybe they’re confused. They probably don’t know what to say.”
In a way, I get that. It’s not every day that someone who doesn’t appear to work suddenly gets a work-sponsored visa – to Munich, no less. I realize most 35 year old women are concerned about the prospects of motherhood and most people probably assume I am too. At the very least, I understand that I am a difficult person who has been lucky enough to find someone who appreciates me and I shouldn’t be foolish enough to risk it with a voluntary transfer to another country.
I understand all of that. But I don’t agree with it. Because it’s 2018 and women have every right to do what we want, when we want, in the order we want. The men in our life can get on board with that or get out. We don’t need people asking us pointless questions about how our partners feel or pushing us to consider how to make them more comfortable if it means sacrificing our own happiness.
We know what we’re doing and all we’d like from everyone else is a sensible reaction. When we tell you about something exciting – like receiving an international job offer or buying a house – we simply ask that you celebrate with us, regardless of whether you agree with our choices or circumstances. If it’s hard to know what to say, just pretend we announced that we’re getting married, and respond accordingly – which is to say, “Congratulations! When?”
February 1. Thanks for asking.
The thing about walls is that as soon as you put them up, people just think of new ways to get around them. History has proven that time and again. And if there's one thing the world needs less than a 2000 mile wall, it's yet another museum that commemorates something that never should have happened in the first place. One in which every exhibit basically says, "We're sorry about this. (And the thing right before). We were under the leadership of someone with questionable intelligence and highly suspect motives." So build a wall if you must, but don't think it's going to solve a border problem. Walls don't work. They never do. #nowall #resist #trump #berlin #berlinwall #germany #travel #travelgram
But since Johann has become a big part of my life and has been chronicled here on the blog for quite some time, I suppose I owe readers an explanation about how he fits in. It’s pretty simple: Johann will be living in Finland and I will be a resident of Germany. Those countries are a short flight away and we can each travel back and forth as we please. In other words, we will continue to be a long-distance couple, just as we always have been, but with a fraction of the distance and a lot less visa-related stress for me personally.
I’ll admit that I would have liked to move to Helsinki, but the offer from work was too good to pass up. Keeping my job seems like a far better option than moving to Finland and trying to find a new one in a place where I am unqualified to even speak. Besides, this way, my employer will arrange and pay for my visas and residency permits – which is no small thing.
Lots of people have nodded through that entire explanation only to follow it up with, “So when do you think you’ll be able to move to Helsinki? Next year?”
I shrug, not because I don’t know the answer, but because I don’t understand why the burden of relocation is solely on me. Why do we still expect mens’ careers to dictate where a couple lives, when they move and what opportunities are worth compromising for. Why do people act like Helsinki is located at the end of a one-way street? Why doesn’t anyone ever ask, “Would Johann want to move to Munich?”
But, like I said, that’s enough about Johann. Let’s talk about you. I hear you want to go to Paris!