I’m sitting in a café in Vienna trying to navigate the complicated and jargon-filled affordable health care website. I’m browsing through plans thinking to myself: how can health care be this expensive? Even after the changes? I shared my thoughts with a friend here, and she told me to look at the mobile phone plans in the US, and then I might want to start unpacking.
You may be wondering why I am browsing plans in the US and talking about packing. Well, I’m unfortunately not planning an English lesson comparing American and Austrian health care and phone plans. Rather, I’m actually doing some thoughtful browsing in advance—for myself.
That’s right folks. Amber in Austria is coming to an end. You may have noticed an extremely long hiatus here on the blog. Well, not much happened during that time, except months of an inner argument and conflict regarding whether to continue with my studies at the University of Vienna and study a degree semesters long that in reality simply isn’t worth the time and money, or face the inevitable and return to the United States to complete a degree that will actual allow me to prosper in my career. As you can see, I chose the latter.
In order to make the most of my last months in Europe, I traveled the heck out of this continent the last months. I’ve been lucky to see so much thus far, but there were a few places I still needed to cross off my list (and more cities still remain on my list). I traveled to Rome, back to Berlin (love), Nuremberg, and I spent three weeks this summer enjoying the beach waves and sun in Ibiza while moderately working, and two and a half weeks backpacking around central and northern Spain. Now it’s time to stay settled in Vienna for a few weeks and slowly say goodbye to my friends, my clients, my favorite places in the city—everything that has meant so much to me over the past five years.
I have accepted my future plans and am actually starting to get secretly really excited. I thought I’d be one of those who trots off to Europe, falls in love with a European man (well, there were lots of European men who stole pieces of my heart), and stay here forever and live this charming expat European life. Going back to the States was the farthest thing from my mind. But alas, it’s time folks. Time to say Auf Wiedersehen to Austria, a place I actually never wanted to move to that much in the first place. That is not to say that I am VERY happy with the road my life has taken and how I somehow came here planning to stay for ten months and managed to squeeze in an extra four years on top of that. I met wonderful people, learned a funky new dialect (although the Wiener will still claim that I sound like a German), learned to navigate the ins and outs of a new country and in a foreign language, discovered some of my favorite places on Earth, and enjoyed the close proximity to the rest of Europe to travel to places I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. I’ve been very lucky to have had this experience.
Now it’s time to start a new chapter where my focus will slightly be shifting towards my career, rather than making a European lifestyle work on peanuts and pennies. That means doing things like shopping for health care*, phone plans, car insurance—all those things that I’ve avoided the last five plus years living here. Let me tell you, looking at those prices, I’m NOT looking forward to entering back into a capitalist society where money drives the world at the price for the health and well-being of the population. I sure can say that in advance. Sorry to any republicans who may read this; you can blame it on those “communist Europeans” who have corrupted yet another American.
I’m sure I’ll be confronted with lots of shocking moments where things that seemed normal six years ago simply seem foreign, out of this world, and down-right obnoxious to me. They call that reverse culture shock. I seem to have a mild form of it every time I go home for a visit. Thankfully my visits are never long enough for me to experience that in full, but this time will be different. I’m not visiting; I’ll be living there again, and I’ll need a serious stint of readjustment time.
So while this blog has kept me afloat the last five years and has given my friends and the occasional stranger a small glimpse into my life as a “temporary expat” abroad, a new project may be underway. You’ll just have to check back in about a month or two and see if that nasty reverse culture shock will require me to find a creative outlet for my frustrations.
And until then, I will sign off with a final tchüss, baba!