The End of an Era

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

40 Comments
  1. I loved Munich and lived as a resident, in an apartment for 2 weeks last year. I would go back to live there in a heartbeat (and I don’t speak a lick of German). I found most people spoke good enough English for us to buy bread at the local market (and anything else, for that matter). I’m so excited for you. We plan to go back in the near future. You can get anywhere in Europe via train from Munich. It was a friendly, awesome city. I wish you the very best. Awesome job being able to have your employer pay for your dream!

    • well thank you for getting it! :) If you ever come back, be sure to drop me a line. I’m all about playing tour guide to show all the reasons why I made this pick :)

  2. oh Nova. I gotta say I really admire your “do whatever makes you happy” attitude you have going there. of course i had to break the news to Kiera you probably wont be going to Japan this year, but told her you’ll get there eventually ;) anywhos. congratulations on your new beginning! just make sure you let me know where to send next years christmas card <3

    • aw – thanks, LU. Yes, Japan is probably on hold until next year… NYC was an expensive few weeks and I don’t know that I can swing another big-big trip this year. But, it’s still a remote possibility. And I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. When I do, I’ll be sure to do some scouting for Kiera.

  3. oh, how wonderful! You, darlin, are a woman of the world, not a Nu Yawker or a Golden Girl from California. You are an international woman, and I wish you all the best so much it almost hurts.

    And quite frankly, what do you care what Other People Think? (annoying, isn’t it)

    I suspect, too, that whatever happens, it will matter a great deal, and you will also have some amazing stories and photos to share. Go. Be amazing.

    • AW – thanks, Judy :) In a way, I’m lucky that people keep telling me what they think. My blog would be boring without all the disagreement. In any case, I hope to keep traveling, though to a lesser extent, in the coming year. I’m looking forward to it.

  4. I landed in Munich one December to snow. White Christmas! Total novelty for someone from the southern hemisphere. It was gorgeous and I’m sure you’ll love living there. And the little villages around it are stunningly beautiful.

    If you told me I could move to Europe and had to pick one city, I’d be really hard-pressed. I’d probably choose a German one because I speak German, but it’d be tough to decide! There’s a lot to be said for living somewhere where you can make friends and talk to them in their language.

    All that amounts to: congratulations and great choice!

    • YES – right? I was there on a beautiful spring weekend and actually reached out to my boss at the time to tell him that I wanted to relocate then and there. That never panned out (he left the company) but when this opportunity came up a year later, it was a no brainer. MUNICH. Can’t wait to experience it in all its seasonal glory.

      Thanks for reading – xx

  5. Congratulations on your offer to Munich. I visited once and absolutely loved it!

    And yes- I can 100% relate. I was living in the UK and got an amazing offer in Canada. My boyfriend and I dated long distance until he eventually moved to Canada- and I had so many people tell me how lucky I was that he would be willing to relocate. Somehow I doubt he would’ve had the same response if I was relocating for him :P

    • Amen! Good on you for taking an amazing offer and finding a partner who isn’t intimidated by your success. Canada was another of my favorite stops – Alberta and Vancouver were gorgeous… Toronto was cool. If I have to pick a place in North America, I’d be heading up north, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for reading :)

  6. I am so very happy for you, I think Germany is a wonderful country to move to. A friends son and his family moved there two years with his family and they absolutely love it! My friend has been there to visit and liked it too. So all the best to you Nova and enjoy your wonderful life!!!

    • Aw – thanks Voula! I’m very excited. If you ever make your way over, I’ll be sure to roll out the red carpet.

  7. I say this with the utmost respect. You must be really good at your job. They do not want to lose you.

    As for asking about Johann, yes there are sexist assumptions being made. Also people are suckers for a love story. All those romcom movies can’t be wrong. Or they can be wrong, but they indicate an audience for the myth.

    • How right you are! The romcom culture is alive and well. In any case, thank you so much for the compliment. I don’t know what, exactly, my employer is thinking, but I’m taking this deal and checking out of New York like I set the place on fire.

  8. My daughter is 14. I hope she grows up to be as intelligent, interesting, free spirited, hard-working and funny as you! Enjoy your new adventure in Munich!

    • Wow – this is such an amazing compliment. Thank you so much… but I’m sure your daughter will far exceed me. “kids today” can run laps around the rest of us, am I right?

      Anyway – thank you for reading. I appreciate it. xx

  9. Congrats! Well done! You should be super excited! And proud!

    We can have it all and the men that love us get that! We’ll be just as excited when Johann moves to Munich but until that happens, you keep kicking ass and taking names! I’ll be there to read about it all!

    • Aw – thank you so much. I don’t know that it’s possible to have it “all” but it’s possible to have what we want. And that’s good enough for me. Thank you for following along :) I’ll check your blog out!

  10. Congratulations! I lived in a tiny town about an hour outside of Munich for 5 years (Herzogenaurach). It was wonderful & Germany is great. As you know, it’s all in what you make it. Good luck & look forward to reading about your continued adventures.

    • Oh awesome – I’m excited to check out all these charming little towns that I never had the chance to visit before. And, you’re right, by the way. It’s all what you make it. I’m looking forward to it… thanks for following along!

  11. I’m super excited for you!!! I love following your adventures and can’t wait to hear about this next chapter. Congrats!
    (Bonus – you get away from the cheeto nonsense here in the states. Envious.)

    • Thank you!! Isn’t it kind of funny that I’m actually going to put my German to use? Any time you’re in Europe, let me know! First beer is on me!

  12. I’ve just found your site, so I’ve been reading several posts at a sitting and really enjoying it. So much of it really resonates with me. My dream is to live abroad some day, and I love to see someone make it happen for themselves.

    I’ve been to Paris and Munich, and between the two I would definitely choose Munich to live. As a bonus, if you need to connect with nature, the Englischer Garten in the middle of the city is beautiful, and not sculptured to within an inch of its life.

    Anyway, I hope this isn’t weird, but congratulations from an internet stranger!

    • Why thank you – not weird at all. I have made plenty of “blog friends” over the years and many of them have transitioned into “regular friends” by now. In any case, best of luck as you pursue living abroad. It’s something that I wanted to do for ten years at least… and just finally made it happen. (I even had a false start where I took a job in Nigeria about 6 years ago that was all wrong for me from the get go but I tried it anyway because I just wanted to live somewhere new so badly!) All that is to say that it’s not easy – at least it wasn’t for me. It takes time and the timing is never right and there’s always a million other things going on. But the most important part (for me at least) was telling people what I really wanted. In the end, it was a manager who “let” me do my job remotely so that I could travel. And it was a different manager who arranged my official transfer. If I had kept quiet, I wouldn’t have gotten either opportunity. Without them, I’d still be in a cubicle in New York. I don’t know if that exact approach would work for you, but if you really want to make a big change, I would encourage you to voice those desires to anyone and everyone. Eventually someone will take you up on it!

      • Thanks for the encouragement and sharing your experience, I really appreciate it! I used to work for a publishing company from a home office, so I was able to take 5 or 6 week trips and work from the road – finding a cell signal in a field in New Zealand so that I could direct a photo shoot in South Africa is one memorable experience – but it’s not the same as settling in and becoming part of a new place. My husband and I are in the process of streamlining our lives and making choices that will help with making an overseas move. In the meantime, I’ll definitely keep your advice in mind, and enjoy following your adventures!

        • !!! New Zealand and South Africa are the two places that I loved the most… I would have lived in either in a heartbeat – but for the fact that I found it challenging to meet the expectations of “east coast employment.” anyway – good for you. hope you and your husband find a way to make it happen :)

  13. I’ve been reading your blog for about a year and seeing this post gave me such a genuine feeling of happiness for you!! Congratulations on the job, I hope it’s awesome :)

    • This is so sweet – thank you! I appreciate that you’ve been following along and all the good vibes that come along with it. I’m really looking forward to it :)

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