Part 1: Münster
On July 1st, I packed my bags and hopped on a plane, bound for Germany. On September 8th, I arrived. I got a little waylaid in Santorini. Here is what you need to know about this (oh my God, what am I doing?) move …
As a writer, I am constantly looking for things to write about. And I can do what I do, anywhere in the world. As a person, I love to travel. Bear with me, this is going somewhere.
When I returned from my first summer in Santorini, in 2008, I was a quarter of the way through my Masters degree, and I made a promise to myself that when I finished studying I would move overseas. Not just out of home, but across oceans. Not just into another suburb, but into another culture, another way of life. I wanted the experience, the system shock, the change. I chose Germany because I had fallen in love with the country and its people during the couple of months I spent there in 2007 and had the welcoming arms of my beautiful German family wide open, ready for me to jump into any time. I told my German friends I’d see them when I graduated, warned my parents I would be on a plane as soon as I could, once I’d donned the cap and gown and (with the MA final project handed in and my sanity partially restored) started saving.
I left on July 1st, this year. Flew to Shanghai for a few days, then to London for a week, then to Santorini to see some friends, catch some sun, do some writing and chill for a few weeks. I stayed for two months, working in a bar and succumbing to the mercurial fizz that is an island summer. A season in Santorini is like standing on your head then spinning in circles. It’s letting go of any concept of time, logic and structure as you know it. Mornings go on forever, weeks mean nothing, days have no name. You chase the sun, sleep when you feel like it, eat when your stomach rumbles and swim when it’s too hot to move. You meet people from everywhere. Anything goes. Everything is talked about by everyone. You form bonds with people because you’re all being driven mad by the volcano and need each other’s understanding because no one else knows exactly what you’re banging on about.
I left the island last week (I think, I’m not going to lie, my grip on days of the week is still slippery) and spent a few days in Athens, acclimatising to relative normality and then, finally, as was the Big Plan, got on a plane to Germany.
Which is where I am now. Muenster, Germany. My new home. Oh Lordy. I need to find a job, an apartment, learn the language (properly, seriously, well). I need to accept it will rain, a lot, and I will be cold, a lot. I need to soak up everything this experience will give me as a person and as a writer. And that’s where this blog comes in.
Travel is making the unfamiliar, become familiar. Words, letters, foods, sounds, smells. It is new showers and strange beds made your own. Bathrooms stocked with shampoos, the backs of which you can’t understand. Shelves stacked with clothes collected from various cities. Navigating supermarkets. It is new mannerisms, habits, patterns. Routines born of the remarkable human ability to adapt. And that’s what A Big Life will be about. That’s what my Big Life will be consumed by, for the next little while. Plenty will be lost in translation. There will be tears, terror, tantrums. Delirium, delights and disasters. Hilarity. Triumphs, big and small. And it will – because I have a new resolve to be a better blogger, to be a disciplined blogger – all be chronicled here.