After spending three weeks back in my homeland, I boarded the plane for Germany with hesitation. It was a very strange feeling to be ‘going home’ to a different country. Furthermore, I would be leaving my beautiful family and friends, a golden Australian Summer, beaches, sunshine and familiarity. By the time the plane landed, I had travelled back in time. My body had been drifting in and out of interrupted sleeps for the past 24 hours and all I had eaten was aeroplane food. My skin was dry from the change in altitude. I had never realised just how far away Australia was, nor how incredibly unnatural it was to fly around the earth in a large machine, trusting one pilot who was transporting hundreds of people throughout time, messing up our internal rhythms. It was no wonder I landed in Berlin with slight confusion. I was suddenly placed in an alternate reality, which was so different to life back home and yet so familiar, because I had been living it already for the past 18 months.
Nothing had changed. I walked down to the bakery the following morning at around 8am and it was still dark. Surely this isn’t normal. To me. But it is a normal reality for this side of the world. It was nice to know I hadn’t forgotten how to speak German over the holidays, as I ordered from the incredibly large selection of brötchen at the counter. Back in the apartment, I sat down to a delicious feast of boiled eggs, cheeses, jams and fresh bread. I looked outside the window and thought I saw a glimmer of blue sky, which took me right back to my dreamy holiday.
I took a walk down the Wintery streets later that day. Christmas trees lay on the pavement, discarded after the festive season. The trees were bare. In another part of the world, the sun shone brightly, birds called their tunes and someone was feasting on fresh mangoes and avocados. Nobody wants to work during those endless summer days in Australia. Everything is so easy-going and relaxed! Here, I am happy and thankful to have full time work. It keeps you inside away from that icy air and, more importantly, motivated.
I am always impressed with the German people who embrace these cold days with enthusiasm. There are many people in the parks, going about their weekend activities. On my walk, a man danced alone to hip hop music by the Ubahn station, not busking but just embracing life. A group of older men played Boules. A couple of ladies worked on an interpretive dance piece in the park and many joggers ran along the footpaths. Children played in the park, dogs trotted alongside their owners, couples held hands as they walked slowly, soaking in the weak sun that shone out from behind the rippling white clouds.
After a week back at work I have finally recovered from that confusing shock and am ready to embrace life again in this cold season. Living overseas really puts the body through its paces. But the year is full of travel possibilities and now there is a new chapter to write. It is nice to have that freedom to choose, to carve our own pathway through this exciting world. And though it sometimes feels daunting, it is worth making the most of every minute!