At the risk of sounding like a corporate engagement fanatic, I believe a good milestone is grounds to celebrate.
Things have been rather busy since a particular milestone I celebrated earlier this month, but the lack of any written material around this has not been due to a lack of excitement. Excitement at realising I’ve now been abroad for three years.
What? No… That can’t be right. Three entire years?
I had to break that period down to make sense of where the time went and it looks a little like this:
Year 0001. The Dutch Gap Year.
WOW. Stare in wonder at grand European buildings and grand European girls, get lost (a lot) in various countries, eat all of the things, be confounded and delighted with languages and cultures, taste all of the beers, work in hospitality for the first time in my life and start to blog/play with websites.
Year 0002. The search for ‘Home’.
One work & travel visa down. Hitchhike onwards from busking in London, camp out on a rooftop in Barcelona, dance around a maypole in Sweden and disembark on the unkempt sidewalks of Berlin. Find shared flats, get new visa, exciting internet Start-up job, a steady friend group and start to make vaguely German-sounding noises.
Year 0003. The Startup Hipster.
Work like crazy, get promoted, start bouldering, drink Club Mate (a lot), travel in the weekends and whenever else possible, get new visa, make slightly more German-sounding noises, end working like crazy, fly back to New Zealand for the first time, fly back again and look for remote start-up contracts in order to start working like crazy again. Do just that.
The end of this year saw me return to the Netherlands and it was fantastic to touch base with friends and experience familiar scenery and tastes again. At the same time, it was a bit surreal to see how much life there, or rather my place in relation to it, had changed; I think I would have hardly recognised my former self if I would have somehow seen him.
I returned to Berlin and marked three years by joining a group of Couchsurfers and taking a train into the wilds of Brandenburg, on a rambling hike which led us to a community Osterfeuer (Easter Fire) in the town of Müllrose, near the Polish border.
People ate roasted campfire bread and lots of meat, drank glühwein, and gazed into the roaring flames before trooping into a tent lined with long, wooden tables where a DJ played sped-up 80s hits to a charming mix of older Fraus, kids and the incongruous but jolly Couchsurfers. One old fellow on the bratwurst stand had an All Blacks cap on.
It’s safe to say it was not your average Easter in New Zealand and that, I guess, is the point of being here.
After three years, I’m still getting a kick from exploring new cultures and getting to know the German one better, while I’m now working remotely with some great companies in areas like editing, copywriting and travel writing, and getting just as much energy from exploring the possibilities this is opening up.
Year 0004. To be continued…
And what better way to celebrate than heading off for a trip today. Catch you all in a few weeks!