Dream until your dreams come true.
I recently announced my after graduation plans,
which are, moving to Germany.
A lot of people were shocked,
My closest friends acted like it was just another day,
because honestly, with me, it was.
Another big question is, “How do your parents feel?”
They’ve had a lot of time to accept the possibility of this happening.
Because I didn’t just decide to move to Germany on a whim,
This has been brewing in my head since I was a little girl.
Also, in case you don’t know,
Here’s the definition of an Ex-Pat:
Expatriate: a person living outside of their national country.
I was at a Girl Scout troop meeting, like any other.
I never knew this would be the special one.
We learned about the WAGGGS World Centers.
Located in England, Switzerland, India and Mexico.
Like every one else, I quickly fell in love with Pax Lodge in England.
After about a week the other girls in my troop dropped their obsession,
But I moved on, and somehow became obsessed with Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland.
I decided I would go to Our Chalet for an entire summer.
Looking back I don’t remember if I made this up, or if this was an actual program offered at Our Chalet.
But the youngest age you could do that at was 13, so I waited.
I began saving every bit of change I could.
I had a gallon sized zip-lock bag labeled ‘Our Chalet’
I was determined I could pay my way through pennies.
There were not many times during my blessed childhood that I had the realization,
“I am growing up in a wartime”
But I was going to be 13 in a few years time,
As always, spending my days staring at the Our Chalet website.
I don’t remember exactly how it happened, a combination of Our Chalet and my parents.
But suddenly, it became impossible for me to spend the summer there at 13.
A 13-year-old, American girl was not going half way across the world from her parents while a War on Terror was taking place.
I was at a weekend of Girl Scout camp when a woman there began trying to convince my troop leader to take an exchange student.
Seeing that the exchange student was from Switzerland, my troop leader told me about it and showed me the girls info packet.
I convinced the exchange student woman to call my parents,
And when they picked me up from camp I was ready to beg.
Eventually, I don’t remember if it was days or months later, they took me out to Chili’s for dinner, and said…
Nadine was coming to America to live with us.
We adventured, we laughed, we cried, we fought, we bonded.
It was one of the greatest years.
I had an older sister that I loved, and she was Swiss, a beautiful bonus.
Age 16, January 2010:
Don’t worry, while there is a gap in my ages,
I never fell out of love with Europe.
It was a few days after the new year of 2010 began,
My mom woke me up way too early and told me there was a surprise downstairs for me.
I automatically knew the red mustang I had asked for Christmas was about to be in the driveway.
But my passport was on the counter.
I assumed my parents were about to tell me we were going to take a cruise like they’d been talking about.
They handed me my passport, and then said, “Would you like to go to Switzerland in March?”
It came as no shock to them when I screamed “YES!”
Age: 16, March 2010:
I boarded my first international flight.
The travel bug had bitten me, and I would gladly be infected for the rest of my life.
I was in love.
Switzerland and Our Chalet was even more magical than I imagined.
It was, and still is, one of the greatest weeks of my life.
While there we learned about being a Our Chalet volunteer,
A volunteer lived and worked at Our Chalet for 3 months in the year.
On our way home my two friends and I decided, we will apply to be volunteers when we are old enough.
In March of 2011 I went to Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria with a group of girls from high school.
As we sat in the Frankfurt airport waiting on our flight back to America,
All the girls around me were saying “I can’t wait to be home”
And suddenly, when I sat there, listening to them, I realized…
I was home.
Age 18, July 2011:
I sent in my application for the Summer of 2012 at Our Chalet.
Age 18, March 2012:
I was accepted as a Our Chalet Vollie.
I was officially moving to Europe.
Age 18-19, May-August 2012:
I was there.
I was doing it.
I was living in Europe.
A dream that I’d dreamt for over 10 years had finally come true.
But sadly, it all came to an end, and I had to go home and go to school again.
Age 19, fall semester:
I heard about an older member in my sorority being an Au Pair for the summer in Italy.
I decided to casually look in to it,
Then allowed the idea to go to the back of my mind.
After attempting to come up with so many options of how to move abroad.
I entertained the idea of Au Pairing again.
Also, let me explain what an Au Pair is…
It’s in short, a cultural nanny.
I will work 30 hours a week (by German law)
I decided to be an Au Pair after graduation, so I began looking for a family.
Age 20, March:
I began talking to a family located in Munich, Germany.
It was small talk, nothing important, but I felt a connection.
But it didn’t take long for us to stop talking, like many other families I had chatted with.
Also for spring break, I traveled to Berlin, Germany.
Weirdly, my week-long Spring Break was actually the longest I’d ever been in Germany.
I began to feel at home,
I loved the people, the lifestyle, and I began to truly imagine life here.
Our first full day there we got pretty lost attempting to find the Jewish museum.
We finally found it, enjoyed our time there, then were off on our next part of the day.
As we sat at a bus stop, on a random street, I knew,
I was moving to Germany, someway, somehow.
Suddenly, after I had turned 21 and began my senior year, that family in Munich contacted me again.
We chatted more, we skyped, and we decided.
I was to move to Munich in the summer of 2015.
I’ve been craving this, dreaming of this, and working toward this for 14 years.
For 14 years I haven’t stopped talking about Europe,
For 11 years I haven’t stopped trying to learn German,
For 5 years I haven’t stopped saying, “well when I was in Europe…”
So to everyone who’s stood by me in those 14 years,
And heard all of these dreams and handwork,
You’re all getting postcards.
And a special thank you for Queen J and Kev Kev.
You’ve been shown millions of Europe photos,
Heard thousands of European facts,
Sat through 11 years of German homework,
Funded 4 European trips,
And hosted 1 foreign exchange student,
All so I could achieve my dreams.
My parents never told me to limit my dreams,
So I never did.
So America, I guess I’ll catch you on the flip side…