On Friday afternoon I flew out of Korea, told the immigration office that I was never to return, handed in my Alien Registration Card, and began the 30 hour travel journey away. Included in that time was a 13 hour and 50 minute flight, my longest so far, and hopefully the last flight of that length that I will ever take.
Cut ahead to Saturday afternoon and you will find me in Stuttgart alive and well, with my luggage happily arriving at the same time, and my lovely boyfriend waiting at the gate for me. Stuttgart could not have started better. I spent two days getting to know my new city with my boyfriend, enjoying the fact that we now live on the same continent, going out for coffee, eating dinner together, and wondering aloud about the dramatic political protest and heavy handed Polizei presence throughout.
But alas, all good things must come to an end. With the arrival of Sunday evening I had to allow for the departure of Valentin. Waving goodbye from a train, although significantly easier than from separate sides of the security line at an airport, was still a harsh reminder of what is truly happening in my life right now. I have just moved to a new continent, to a new country and city in which I know no one. Even Valentin lives in a different country, three hours away by bus. I really am starting an entirely new life here.
Let me be the first to say that I love it here. I don't think this feeling is the manifestation of round one of culture shock: the honeymoon period. I think that I am aware of the difficulties, stress, and differences between this home, my last home, and my true home back in the states, and how this will profoundly impact me in the months to come. But I can say with honesty that this type of city, this type of country, this type of lifestyle? This is what I've been craving. Even for a city considered to be not nearly as beautiful as the other options in Germany, Stuttgart is lovely. Even with the weather bordering on foggy clouds, rain and sleet, and snow in the night, Stuttgart is welcoming.
I have no concerns about my family visiting here. I know they will love it. I can't wait for my friends to come see me, I know that we will have much to do. Centrally located between Germany, France, Switzerland, and even Italy to the south, Stuttgart is in the ideal location to jump around from country to country.
My first interview went well and I hope that this time next month I will be chronicling about my first few days of work. I'm meeting some people for coffee tomorrow morning who share similar interests and job titles, so maybe they will come to be friends. But I'm most excited about my bouldering technique course that begins on Thursday. Although it's quite expensive I've decided to commit to a 10 week women's only bouldering class. 5-6 women, 90 minutes a week, and one personal trainer. I can't wait to learn more about how to do the movements that are necessary for climbing. I can't wait to immerse myself in an athletic, adventurous, and encouraging world. I can't wait to push myself physically in a way that's reflective of how I am pushing myself emotionally and socially with this move.
There are so many things I'm realising that I want to do with my life. This happens to everyone, I'm sure. But there's something about moving to a new country that really helps you start over. Or so I'm told. All I know is that I'm feeling more optimistic than ever.
So begins my German adventure.