A lot of breath was wasted telling me that I couldn't do what I'm trying to do. That one doesn't move to the European Union with the hopes of landing a work visa as a freelancing English teacher. That one shouldn't travel and try to make a life that they can be truly happy with when they have the burden of student loans. That, in that regard, one should take the time to make a living before attempting to make a life.
Many of the loudest voices have come from those I met in my travels abroad. The English teacher in Busan would loudly exclaim that it's not possible to teach English in Europe - that everyone there already knows it and besides, with the refugee crisis in Germany there's no chance that I'll be able to get a visa. The comfort of a salaried position in an Asian country where everything was already organized, where the pay-check was predictable, relatively timely, and comfortable enough to allow for some wild trips (with only a mild amount of credit card debt to show for it) was absolutely hard for me to leave behind. I can see the allure of staying there in lieu of running off to the uncertain, freelancing nature of a European adventure. I'm not saying that outspoken expat was wrong, I'm just saying that he definitely was not right.
I've been here for a month. I came here because of one guaranteed interview in advance with a company that, unfortunately, I won't be pursuing for work purposes. Instead I opened my doors to some other schools and had two bites immediately. The process was the same for both: one phone call, a dropped off resume, one job interview, and one instantaneous job offer. Both interviewers started in my postition, English teachers infatuated with the European lifestyle and the German language. Both had to build a full schedule from scratch at their respective schools. Both are now in managerial positions, hiring and organizing, leading teaching seminars, and jumping in when their teachers are sick or on vacation. They have been insanely helpful and I haven't had any doubts that if I have a random question about the visa process, or come across and glitch or hurdle, they would respond quickly and with the knowledgable advice that can only come from one who has not only been their themselves, but who has helped countless others through the process over the years. They are unwittingly serving as examples of the sort of stable and reliable life I could come to enjoy on this continent.
In terms of my visa process things are going well. I have everything prepared except for one. My health insurance is in the process of being finalized. It will bleed me dry until I can prove that my income is vastly lower than they are anticipating (2,200 euro a month? There's no way I'll be making that much for at least a year, if ever!) but at the end of the year I'll be reimbursed for anything that I should not have had to pay. So here's looking to a fat check at the end of the year and for a speedy process now.
I've signed a lease (subletting, if you want to be technical, until January) for an apartment in a beautiful part of the city. The view from my window is enough to make my heart sing as I begin to immerse myself in a more fully German environment. The neighborhood is quite far, by Stuttgart standards, from the city center. A full 24 minute public transit ride! But that exclamation mark should be taken with a grain of salt, 24 minutes is nothing, and besides... in Busan it was much, much worse. The distance from the city center makes me happy because perhaps here the level of English will be lower. Perhaps here I will be able to use, fine tune, and progress with my German. Perhaps here I can experience Germany (as truly as one can when surrounded by hotels and situated so closely to the airport).
Right now this is where I belong. I love the food that I have access to here. I love that I get to see my wonderful, fabulous boyfriend more often while here. I love that I'm catching on to the language, that my intense courses are paying off, and that I can potentially reach B1 level by next year (if not sooner). I'm happy to be pursuing the things that are important to me physically - my climbing course has been amazing and I've made some outstanding friends from it, my yoga mat has been calling my name and I'm looking forward to finding outdoor opportunities to practice either in a group or on my own as summer comes around the bend, and I've even been able to try skate skiing, take a 3 day vacation to beautiful Switzerland, and push my body to limits that I haven't done in far too long. The lifestyle that I'm living here is the one that I've been craving. The irony is that this city is the most polluted by the standards of the locals and all I can do whenever I step outside is breathe deeply and fully through my nose - the haze and pollution of my factory surrounded neighborhood of Korea is noticeably absent. My lungs are pleased.
All in all, I'm happy. I can't wait to share my new corner of the globe with my friends and family as time goes on. It's time to being to plan a trip for my family to come visit. It's time to convince my friends that they can save up for a plane ticket to come explore my part of the world. It's time to prove to myself and everyone else that maybe this wandering musician can be established in one part of the world for longer than a year.
After all this time it's time to go for it.