Leaving letter to Germany

Dear Germany,


I am going to be brutally honest and blunt here (German-style). Oh the irony! Please don’t get offended and don’t take it personally! 


I have wanted to leave you for a long time now.  Our home felt like home. The 4 little walls that held our family safe for 10 years felt great. But Germany never felt like home. To me, you were always temporary. We’d said we would give it a go for 3-5 years. We stayed for 10. I am sure you can agree, we gave it a good go. 


➕I have loved how you made our life generally amazing in terms of travel. Being in the middle of Europe was so much fun. Certainly very different from being on an island (UK: I am looking at you.) And having a huge airport hub an hour from home was a dream. 


➖I have hated how central we were within Europe. The sea was sooooo far. Some say we were as far as one can be from the sea in Europe. 


➕We have all loved the opportunities Germany offered us. My husband thrived professionally. He travelled the world. Took us with him on many occasions. And professional and financial opportunities made our life generally very privileged and comfortable.


➖I won’t miss your food though. I have not loved the food here. The general lack of food diversity was depressing at best (especially when we arrived. It has gotten slightly better I have to admit). Getting decent fish and seafood, for example was always a challenge. Luckily, we lived near the French border for a bit more variety. 


➕We have all loved the more eco-conscious way of living that was part of simple daily life. Returning bottles to get money back became second nature. Buying organic anything was so easy. And cycling around our town was so much fun. 


➖I hated all the nit-picking on rules and strictness of some of these rules. I am sorry I forgot one spider web in our flat when we left but is this really enough to call its condition unacceptable and treat us like we were vandals? You have left me a bitter taste that will keep going for weeks if not months. 


➕A special note for my husband who has loved driving at crazy speed on the Autobahn. 


➖I have hated the directness of many people here. I could never really get used to the way people spoke to me. Maybe it was the language subtleties I could never get. Mea culpa. Maybe it was me taking things too personally. In any case, I still think too many people are rude and it makes me grumpy.


➕The pandemic finally made us appreciate the amazing forests, lakes and nature trails that you do so well. 


➖I have not made many real friends who were not expats or had lived abroad.it may not be your fault, Germany. It may have been because of my language skills or because of having a travelling husband and young children. But this meant we never felt really attached to the place. 


➕Above all, I have loved how you treat families and children. I love the freedom you have given my children, the independence, the skills they have mastered and the sweet early childhood they have had there. We have loved the running around sprinklers while naked in their kindergarten backyard on hot summer days. We have loved your not-over-the-top health and safety approach. It was such a welcome change after the UK. We have loved our children being taught about using real knives, candles, tools etc. My children have loved playing outside daily without adults, walking to the bakery alone or playing in a nearby playground on their own. 


Do you think you can outgrow a place? I think it is possible. Many people may not think twice about it as they would never even consider moving abroad of their own accord. We break the mold in those terms and I realise that. But my husband had nowhere else to grow professionally (the whole story is much more complex but not mine to share). I had nothing left to give to make it work better for us. My heart was not with you. I could not see myself grow old there. So, yes, I think we did outgrow you. We mostly enjoyed everything Germany had to offer us for 10 years. But our heart is not in Germany. 


I do hope my children do feel some attachment to Germany. My youngest was born there, after all. I do hope I can help them not forget their German entirely.


So long Germany. See you soon, maybe. 

Auf Wiedersehen


Annabelle 

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4 Comments

  1. Yes, I absolutely agree that it's possible to outgrow a place. Circumstances can change, and opportunities abound. So glad that you have a list of good memories upon which you and your family can reflect. Wishing you all the best as you move on to new adventures!

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    1. Thank you. We will choose to focus on those positive for sure.

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  2. This sums up my experience of living in Germany. And that was without a partner and children. 5 years. I had made a home but the country didn’t feel like home and the people never let me forget that I was a visitor.

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    Replies
    1. That is a tough feeling to keep living with. I am sorry you had to experience this.

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