Do you ever have those days where you question everything? Where you wonder: is this me? Is this my life? What am I doing here? Do I belong here? I think it’s healthy to ask these kinds of questions – not everyday of course, but sometimes a little bit of self-doubt can be helpful.
As you may have noticed from the tone of recent blog posts, the past few months haven’t been the easiest. As Berlin weather changes from summer to autumn, (and with a plane ticket to London on Sunday…just for a holiday—don’t worry!), I find myself wondering yet again—what am I doing here? I came to Berlin just over three years ago during an Eurotrip where I was planning to move to London. In Berlin, though, I met a boy. Well, several boys. As you do. And then I discovered there were lots of other foreigners living in Berlin. And that the German language wasn’t as scary as I first thought. And that Berlin is just so damn cool.
I found it impossible to leave Berlin after having spent just a week here.
But Berlin had never previously been in my sights. And having lived in a handful of foreign cities as a student, an intern or a young adult, today I find myself wondering if this is the city that was actually meant for me. Germany wasn’t my favorite country. German food isn’t my favorite international cuisine. And the language. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t the easiest to learn.
I’ve always imagined myself living in New York City one day, in Bangkok, in London. Maybe even in Tel Aviv again. But I’m approaching 30 in a couple of weeks and I haven’t lived in nearly as many places as I thought I would. Which is the city for me?! Am I spending too much of my time in the city that everyone loves to write about (including myself!)? When I meet new people while traveling and I talk about living in Berlin, it sometimes feels like I’m obsessed. I can’t speak about Berlin enough—about the amazing nightlife, the interesting people. The city oozes with culture, with unique things to do. There’s history everywhere. But what I love most about Berlin is the fact that the city is changing. Fast. There’s an energy here that’s hard to describe. (But god knows I try!)
And yet I still feel so young and so ready to take on more of the world. Berlin has become easy for me. I love my life here, don’t get me wrong. But I sometimes wonder if there are other cities that are meant to have me too. Other places where I could try and do new things, different things.
MoveHub recently posted this quiz (see below) to determine “which country do you actually belong in.” These kinds of silly quizzes pop up on Facebook all the time, but I hardly ever do them. They’re silly and fun and are meant to be shareable. I went ahead and did it because, well, because I’ve been having all these doubts and wonders and thoughts — is this the right place for me?
Of course I took the quiz. Five times. And I ended up with The Netherlands every damn time! Oops. I’m not even sure if Germany is an option, but I’d like to think that the quiz thinks I belong here in Northern Europe. Regardless, I’m happy it gave me a Northern European country. With all the travel I’ve done this year, I find myself repeatedly wanting to visit and to stay in this region. It’s why I revisit places all the time. It’s maybe not the road-less-traveled, but sometimes you just need to take holidays, to visit places that are so “you.” The places you love. Where you can feel relaxed and comfortable. They’re easy destinations for you, maybe, but that’s sometimes all that you need.
Take the quiz below. Let me know which country you get. And then tell me— do you ever wonder if you’re living in the right place?
Let me know in the comments which country you get in the quiz! Also, if anyone gets Germany, can you PLEASE tell me what the correct choices are?! :-D
Hi!!! i’m from Argentina and I’ve got UK in the poll :) I can totally picture myself there!!!
Aww that’s super sweet. Thanks Elisa! I can picture myself in the UK too :)
Canada! Whattaya know, the place I went through all that trouble to get away from…oh well what’re you going to do. :D
Haha, isn’t it funny (or scary) how much the Internet actually can figure out about us?!
Apparently I belong in Switzerland. :) I’m here in Berlin visiting my 8-yr old daughter – day 11 of 12. I’ve been here several times and always find something new to discover. By the way, people in Berlin do jaywalk I noticed.
Haha thanks for the comment Natalija – and it’s always to hear from tourists as much as locals how there’s so much to do and see in this city. It must be one of the most dynamic places on earth!
And yep – in Berlin you can definitely catch jaywalkers! Berlin’s always been a bit more reckless and surprisingly adept at breaking the rules :)
Having lived in 5 different cities in 4 countries even before I turned legal, I stopped thinking whether I belong to a particular city or not. Instead, I sort of accepted the idea that I will never belong anywhere, and will be eternally a foreigner. Heck, I have lived more years outside than inside my passport country. I guess my take on things is that I would just act like everything is temporary, making the best out of every moment wherever I am.
By the way, I took the test, five times as well, since there were several questions I didn’t have a clear answer to. It gave me Australia, Canada, the UK, and France twice.
Wow Jeruen – I knew you’d lived all over but I still think that’s super cool/strange/amazing/weird that you’ve spent more years outside than inside your passport country. I’ve always been of the same mindset to keep everything temporary, but I’ve recently started to shy away from that. And it feels good to finally feel settled in Berlin like this is my home, but it’s also scary and strange and makes me nervous. Commitment hasn’t always been my strong-suit…
I got the UK, which isn’t too surprising, though I also really want to live in France for a while. I’m pretty sure my next move is going to be from Canada to Australia though.
Though it’s not always reliable, if your gut’s telling you it might be time to move on, maybe it’s time for a new adventure. :)
Hey Paris – thanks! I was surprised I couldn’t actually get the UK, really. Considering it was always my dream destination as an expat. If you do move to Australia, you’re in for a real treat! I lived in Sydney as as a student for one term during university and it was probably my best year ever!
And thanks, I think all this self-doubt and wondering has definitely left me eager for a new adventure—whatever (or wherever!) that might be…
Hi, Rostock expat here, I found Germany :)
-wolf of wall street
It took me a few times to find it…. some of the other awesome countries it gave me Italy and Netherlands.While I love the countries it gave me, I think the answers to the questions are a bit arbitrary though….I got Italy after saying I like sweaters, bikes, and lost in translation. The result then told me how I loved driving my vespa in my designer duds while watching the godfather simultaneously (or something along those lines) :p
Hey Jennifer! How’s life in Rostock? I’ve never been!
I’m glad Germany includes the leather jacket – that’s my fashion of choice. And – ugh – Wolf of Wall Street. That movie made me so mad! But thinking about it, I can’t help but see how they’d choose that one to represent Germany!
Thanks for giving it a try Adam. You have to check the description for Germany. It’s absolutely unparralel to the rest.
I’ll keep trying! Thanks for putting together the contest – and for commenting here! I loved the design of it – very clean and simple and the photographs were all great. Nicely done :)
Adam, it seems to me you need a change soon from Berlin. I think you’ll feel the loss of leaving, but I think you’ll gain a lot more from a new set of surroundings wherever they may be.
I took the test: France! Surprising. Maybe I should go back one day, and see the rest of the country that’s not Lyon. ;)
A year on, and it’s a little disturbing to realize yet again my birthcity is not the place for me. But I’m here for family, and I’ll do what’s necessary for the time being. But wow, there are moments it’s hard to feel that pull, that unique “Fernweh” for the “Heimweh” that’s somewhere else.
Hey Henry – thanks for the nice comment. I’m not quite ready to give up on Berlin, but I am looking on taking a small break from the city so that I can recharge my batteries.
I know what you mean about your birthcity not being the place for you. I feel the same every time I visit Texas. I don’t mind visiting but I also know I won’t live there again…
Wouldn’t you know it, I got France! And I do think about this often – it’s almost been 10 years since I’ve been to Paris! :) This was a great post Adam, thank you!
Apparently I belong in Canada but somehow am in Texas… it’s like it’s own country down here but near a major airport so I’ll take it. Personally I think you belong in NY, but I’m a little biased to have you closer!
Such a great article! I love traveling but often wonder if we find where we belong like we find a mate…like at some point do you just know and settle down and have 15 babies? That’s so cool you’re coming to London!! I just moved there a month ago so if you get bored or want someone to wander Chinatown with you, let me know!
Apparently I belong in France? Too bad I’m living in China! The description does sound like me though. I hate mornings until I’ve had my coffee, I’m an experience-driven person, and would rather go out to dinner with friends than buy “things”, and I want to be free to travel the world. Sounds about right!
when its time to move on, its time to move on! looking forward to some new adventures!
I got France. I’ve dreamt of living in Paris for soooooo long. One day!
I think your thoughts reveal that you’re getting itchy feet. The best remedy for that is a spell of travel :) Why not go traveling for a while? You can always go back to Berlin after (a city, btw, I totally get why you’re so in to)
So funny Adam. I actually got Germany in less than a minute which doesn’t surprise me in th least! Yikes!! Before I came to live in Berlin, I had been looking for “that place” and even though I’m from Manchester (UK), I lived in London and Prague for a collective time of 8 years! I loved both of them and Prague was enormously close to being “that place” but as soon as I stepped foot in Berlin, I knew that this was “it”, and I never looked back. I’ve now been here for 15 years and it feels like yesterday! I guess that as much as you like Berlin, it doesn’t call to you and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
You’re only 30, the world is huge and Berlin will always be waiting, whatever you decide. :)
Hmmm, I got Canada (seasons, nature, turtleneck sweaters, underground). Always wanted to go, but never considered it a place to live. Who knows? I’ll be in Portland over Christmas, so perhaps I’ll have to pop up there and see what the fuss is about. For now, I’m loving Berlin and five years after moving to Germany, it still feels like home (even with my less-than-stellar German).
I wouldn’t worry too much about being somewhere that you truly love for too long, unless you have some time frame for ‘settling down’ in a certain place, as a lot of people do. Otherwise, stay wherever you want for however long you want. We didn’t move here until we were 30, but we certainly don’t feel like this could be the only city for us. There’s still plenty of life to live, wherever we feel like living it.
Took the quiz and got Australia. Don’t think that will happen! I actually live in Munich, but have been considering moving back to Texas due to a breakup and feeling some of the same feelings you described.
On another note, I will be in Berlin this weekend by myself and your blog has been great for tips!
Never been to Berlin and I don’t like German language at all! I love Spanish language and it suprised me when I got France because I don’t imagine myself there. I’d rather move to Madrid.
I ask myself the cardinal question of belonging almost every day! And I think you should and must read Bruce Chatwin’s What Am I Doing Here? if you haven’t already. :)
Got Australia!!! …which makes me feel good about my crazy decisions in life because I just moved here a couple of weeks ago! Have always wanted to & finally got the time/courage to do it. Of course we all have self-doubt from time to time, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like I belong somewhere. Yay life. :)
Woot! Congrats on the move Olivia. Make the most of your time there and enjoy it!!!
hi Adam! I did it very quickly and totally randomly, and I got Italy!
I know I’m in the right place. Coz I picked it.
I did it very quickly and totally randomly, and I got Italy! I know I’m in the right place. Coz I picked it.
Aww that’s perfect Sharla! Hope you’re well xx
i got Germany!! I can’t remember all the answers except: Musuems, rainy weather, clean bedroom & artsy.
How come rainy weather doesn’t surprise me for Germany? :-P
As someone who unexpectedly fell in love with Berlin as well, (been back here twice in one summer already) I was hoping to get Germany but alas results say France, also fitting as I’m moving to France in the fall.
Oh wow! Lucky and cool you got the country you’re already planning to move to. Enjoy it!