emigrant

Not The New Girl

Lately there have been a few situations where I’ve been asked how long I’ve been in Germany.  At a birthday party recently an American and I got chatting and the inevitable question came up “So how long have you been here?”.  I can’t remember who asked first, she me or me she. She’s here over twenty years. I’m the new girl. After that there was the interview for a local project on non-nationals in our village. The interviewer is in Germany almost 30 years. I’m the new girl.  Then came an e-mail was a lovely reader who contacted me about life in Germany.  She’s here less than two years. She’s the new girl.

I know exactly that I moved to Germany in June 2003. It was the tenth of June to be exact. But sometimes I forget how long ago that is and am jolted back to my senses by little things. Like when I see the neighbour’s son who was three when I moved here and I freak out that he is driving a car.  Or someone asks me how long I’ve been in my job and I blurt out “Almost 12 years” before having a sharp intake of breath and a slightly dizzy feeling.  Or when my wedding anniversary rolls round – 11 years this year. There’s no point in my asking myself “Jesus, how did that happen?”. I know how it happened. I know because I remember.

I remember the exciting adventure of that first six months. No money, no furniture, no job at first. But hey, I had my love to keep me warm, as the song goes. At 24 that’s ok.

I remember the 25 months of internship to get a foot in the door. Four hundred and seventy three is a number I will never forget. My after tax pay per month for  a year. The workload, the overtime and the trying hard.  Then the joy at my gross pay being doubled. Eight hundred and fifteen net.

I remember handing in my notice and leaving the next day. One hundred and two. The overtime I had built up working my ass off for an ungrateful corporation who had any number of applicants to replace me.

I remember starting my current job. Two years and nine months. The length of time it took for the company to give me a permanent job. The worry every three to six months whether the contract would be extended.  The constant cloud of uncertainty that followed me, making me put off having a baby. Making me worry that this was my life now, this never ending series of contracts and knock backs.

I remember wondering how long is long enough to put up with this. How long before I can say I gave it a go and it didn’t work. How long before I fit in.

I remember Baby Number One and the feeling of finding my feet.

I remember Baby Number Two arriving in the middle of buying our first home.

I remember Baby Number Three being a total surprise and giving me the extended parental leave that made me feel like it was all worth it. That the long and bumpy road I have travelled in Germany was indeed the one to follow.  That the wrong turns I thought I had taken didn’t lead me to where I thought I wanted to go. They took me somewhere better. Where I’m not the new girl anymore.

 

11 thoughts on “Not The New Girl

    1. The Irish are good like that. After 25 years living in the village, someone referred by my parents as “the blow-ins”. My mam is from five miles away, my dad from ten miles away.

    1. Sure 12 years is nothing 😉 Once the kids come visiting you with your grandchild you’ll finally be accepted as belonging.

  1. Lovely post. I’m almost 27 years in Cork and I’m still the ‘dub’, but then I suppose I’m okay with that too. In a way I’m happy to be both.

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