Challenges And Growth
We all know that life is constantly giving us challenges and through dealing with these challenges we grow whether we want to or not. That is our Creator’s design because some of us (not mentioning any names or looking in any mirrors) need a bit of a nudge from time to time or we just wouldn’t evolve.
And although I do believe that all challenges help us to grow I also believe that sometimes we are given so many challenges because we might not be heading in the direction that is really serving us and we are so thick headed that we aren’t getting it. One example of this from my past is my marriage to my ex-husband. From the outset there were so many challenges and signs that I believe my Creator stopped just short of sending in locusts and that was probably only because I FINALLY GOT IT!! God only knows what would have happened next had I not been so horribly and slowly astute.
So here it is the end of August and I’ve been here in Germany now for 40 days or so. Matt’s been here three weeks longer than that and we found ourselves yesterday at a place where we had to decide what we wanted to do…stay or go home.
I know what a lot of you are probably saying ‘You just got there. Why would you come home so soon?’ Well, you see, there have been quite a lot of challenges from the second Matt stepped off the plane up to this very moment as I am writing this and all of them left us thinking ‘what is our Creator trying to tell us?’
When I arrived over a month ago I landed at Koeln/Bonn Airport to find that Matt and his fellow chiropractic colleague had quit their jobs the day before. I come to find out that the organization that had painted this beautiful picture of what it was like to work with them had been doing everything illegally (i.e. no working permits for their American chiropractors, among many, many, many, many….did I mention many…other things that we found out after Matt left) and…oh yeah…they hadn’t paid Matt a cent!
So at the end of the third week of working there and having asked them nicely yet again to pay him and being yelled at not so nicely yet again by the owner (I kid you not! This lady was and is a loose cannon!) Matt told them to have a nice weekend, smiled and never went back. His fellow chiropractor did the same.
I am not going to go in to every thing that went on after that regarding the lunatic owner of the chiropractic organization here in Koeln (located right on the Rhein river that hires American Chiropractors, if you are curious) after Matt and his fellow chiropractor quit but I will tell you that there have been very few days here where her name hasn’t been heard or her presence hasn’t been felt since I’ve been here. There have been days where I felt so uncomfortable and unsafe that I was ready to grab my luggage, passport, and a cab and head to the airport immediately.
But all of that aside, the last week or two have been relatively quiet with all that. Matt and I decided when I got here that we would explore as much of Europe as we could while we were here while at the same time explore any opportunities that might be here for us. Those explorations took us to Ireland, Scotland, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, The Netherlands, Switzerland and various other places. Many of which we would have never thought of going to before coming to Germany.
It’s not all challenging here in Germany. Many things are so much easier, greener, and healthier then at home in Florida. Things such as the wonderful mass transit which leaves you with no need or desire to have a car or car insurance; the fact that they love their walks and bike rides and in response there are walking and bike trails everywhere. You can just about get any where you want to go by foot or bike with no problem here (as well as most of Europe); and their dedication to being more and more green (a.k.a. just about every thing you buy in a plastic or glass bottle has a deposit on it to make sure you return it for recycling and you have to buy the bags at the check out counter when you are buying your groceries if you forget to bring a bag from home).
But many things here in Germany are more difficult especially if you don’t speak the language fluently. Daily things like checking your voicemail on your cell phone is a challenge if you don’t understand the instructions that are being spoken to you in German. Getting internet in our apartment is a challenge (at this writing we still don’t have internet). Also, it’s very challenging and mentally tiring when you don’t speak the language of the country you are in (I understand that even if you do speak the language but it’s not your native language it is tiring) and every second of the day you have to concentrate so hard to just pick out the one or two words that you’ve learned to figure out what is being said so you can order a simple cappuccino or loaf of bread. These are all little things that can be rectified but they are still very real challenges daily and they can wear you out in the best of times.
Now I will tell you that we didn’t have ‘the best of times’ though we had a lot of good times too (as evidenced by the blogs I’ve written) and the challenges I’ve mentioned above don’t even scratch the surface of what Matt and I faced while we have been here in Germany (Matt’s written a whole volume that may or may not be made available at a later date) but I don’t think it’s necessary to outline every thing that caused us to arrive at our conclusion yesterday that we are going home on Wednesday, September 3rd.
We did not arrive at this conclusion easily because we are the type people that keep working on something until it works but this project in Germany didn’t seem to be working no matter what we tried to do and we finally came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the time that we were meant to be here in Germany. Will we ever come back to Europe or Germany again and have it work? Maybe but next time we’ll do a lot of things much differently because we’ve learned a lot about ourselves individually and as a couple just from being here and the lessons were not lost on us.
What We’ve Learned
We’ve learned that spontaneity is a wonderful thing but when making a move like we just did a little more planning and follow up is needed first. We’ve also learned that moving across the pond is not really any harder then going on vacation or moving to Florida from New York. We’ve learned that despite their differences all people are generally the same. We all eat, sleep, and want to be loved and accepted. We’ve learned that with the proper map you can get anywhere you want to go without needing to know the language. We’ve learned that paying 50 cents to use the toilets in a public place is worth it because they are much cleaner than their free counterparts. We’ve learned that when Germans have a party it’s nothing for them to all break out in song when a favorite ditty comes on the radio (usually ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ by Falco for our neighbors for some reason). Why don’t American’s do that? Are we really so free if we don’t feel we can belt out a good song when we hear it?
We’ve learned that late night German T.V. puts America’s XX ratings to shame (and that’s the public T.V. God knows what’s on their Pay per View). We’ve learned that ‘Fleishschnitzle’ basically tells you nothing except you are getting some sort of meat product breaded and fried and they ‘schnitzle’ just about anything here. We’ve learned through observing the Germans’ love of glass architecture that there are either very few Germans with a fear of heights or there is a large part of the population that doesn’t get out much at all here. We’ve learned that with the exceptions of CNN and the BBC everything on T.V. is dubbed in to German and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Sly Stallone or Billy Crystal ‘speaking’ in to German!!
As a couple I believe Matt and I are more closely in alignment with what we want now because of this experience then we were before. Matt is more apt to leap in to things, be unorganized, and more haphazard in doing things. I am more apt to want to plan things, be super organized, and weigh the options before doing anything (some people call it cautious. I call it thorough). I think from this experience we’ve kind of begun to meet more in the middle. I’ve learned to let go a little bit and not need to be totally in control of what happens and Matt has learned that a little planning and research can go a long way.
So for the next four days we are going to explore and enjoy the rest of our time here in Germany then once we get back to the U.S. we’ll be visiting and staying with some friends and family for a few months while we both work and decide where our next abode will be.
I am glad to have been able to visit the place where my grandmother and grandfather are from (Heidelberg, Germany) and to have also had the opportunity to travel to Cork, Ireland where my mother’s family is from. There’s a certain kind of indescribable feeling to visiting a place where you know the history of your family was born. You can almost feel your ancestors smiling at your returning ‘home’ to visit even if it is only for a day.
So we aren’t upset or disappointed in having spent time here in Germany. We wished it would have been a more uplifting and fun experience the whole time but some times the best lessons are learned when the challenges are difficult and uncomfortable.
We’ve faced those challenges square in the face and have grown because of them. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Stay tuned for more travel, challenges, and insights coming very soon. Until then Matt and I send our love to you all.