I left Berlin about 10 days ago and have been home in America since then. The photo above is from my FourSquare check-in at the DFW airport—the first time my feet were on American soil in over 18 months. It felt pretty special.
Anyways, I’ve been here in Texas for a few days now. Got to spend Thanksgiving with my family and was able to take a short trip up to Ohio to visit my adorable niece. (Also managed to fit in a quick coffee break with Jeremy from a favorite backpacking blog.) This weekend I’ll be visiting Grapevine, Texas to check out some of the newest tourist sights in my old ‘hood. With all these meetups and reunions, I’ve somehow managed to escape reflecting upon being abroad for so long and coming home for the first time. Until now.
This trip back home held a fair amount of significance in my mind. It’s been 18 months since I’ve seen most of my family. (My parents flew out to Berlin for a weekend over the summer.) It’s also the first time I’m home after coming out. I was supposed to come home months ago but ended up falling in love with Berlin—hence the fact that I’m flying back “home” to Berlin next week. I think I might’ve been a bit afraid to come back to the United States simply because I was worried I’d fall back in love with my country.
America the beautiful
While travelling around the world, my opinions on America have changed and fluctuated quite a bit. After living in Tel Aviv for four months last year, I realized the United States is actually one of the most diverse countries in the world.
But at the same time, my country’s lack of progress on a number of social issues (from healthcare to gay rights) has infuriated me since seeing how so many European countries work. Not to mention the fact that cheap holiday insurance is hard to come by if you’re just visiting the US for a short period. I could (and probably will) write a lot more about my views on America related to travel, but I’ll save that for another time. Regardless of the problems in America, I’m still quite proud to be American.
On living in America
Being back here (even if just for a few weeks) after so much time away has only made me realize even more of the good and the bad things about my home country. I’ve never been so conflicted. While I’d love to live in New York City at some point, I’m also excited that I’m returning to Europe right now. But I won’t lie that a part of me doesn’t really want to live abroad.
Life would be so much easier if, as an American, I lived in America. I wouldn’t have to worry what the German word for “hair conditioner” is. I wouldn’t have to repeat a million times each day, “Sorry, do you speak English?” I wouldn’t have to spend hours translating letters from my health insurance or finding a doctor who speaks English. (Notice a trend here? It’s all language-related… which is why I plan to get more serious about learning German in the coming months.)
Living in America would be easy and there’s no doubt in my mind that living abroad in Berlin is going to be a challenge. I’d love to live in America again, I really would. But not yet. I’m still into the thrill and excitement of being in a new place.
Interested in some other articles about living abroad as an expat? Check these:
- überlin: A year in Berlin – Five Things We’ve Learned
- nicoleisthenewblack: F.A.Q with a Black Expat in Germany
- travelsofadam: life as an expat in berlin