When I first came to Germany thirteen years ago, I was a nineteen year old college sophomore on my first trip outside North America. Five years ago, I returned to study for my master’s degree at the University of Siegen. For much of the time since, I’ve thought about whether or not I could see myself becoming a permanent expat like so many people I’ve met over the years. But I recently decided that the time had come to return home to the United States and say goodbye to Germany.
During my time here, I’ve grown to appreciate so much about this country. There are so many contradictions, but, ultimately, everything just seems to work. For example, Germans work the fewest hours annually, and yet they have the greatest workplace engagement in Europe and one of the strongest economies in the world. They’ve also seen their universities increase in prestige as they continue to offer free tuition to students from across the world, with the goal of bringing another 100,000 new international students into the country by 2020.
To share what I’ve learned and to encourage more Americans to move here, I started an academic advising service called Eight Hours and Change. After three years trying to arrange appointments with a 6-9 hour lag, I’ve decided that it’s time to go home. For the next few months, I’ll be traveling throughout the United States, speaking to students and parents about life in Germany.
There were times when it was tough being away, and I’m looking forward to my first Thanksgiving in six years this November. Despite that, though, I’ve truly enjoyed my time here, and wouldn’t trade the last five years for anything. I’ll miss Germany, and there’s no question that I’ll be back.