When she passed away 2,5 years ago, I decided not to pursue a PhD, but instead leave San Francisco behind and move to Berlin. Even though my mom was born there and lived in Berlin for a big part of her life, I still remember the look of worry on her face when I introduced the idea as just another idea. Her only daughter that far away from home, that far away from her…
We visited our German family there plenty of times in my younger years and I can still vividly remember my uncle’s house in the middle of the ‘Kiez’. Back then, it was a developing neighborhood where the family got together to have fun. A wonderful time and I, now grown up, was keen on finding out more about the city by myself, knowing my mom would be with me in my heart and her voice in my head every step of the way.
Moving there was a big step, but I felt confident because my roots lay in the city and I knew my family was still there as well. Feeling like I already knew the place helped, but also made settling more difficult. Looking back now, one of the most important things that 18 months in Berlin taught me was to not be complacent if you are wanting to meet new people. You have to get out there if you want to build a network. Also, Berlin’s city nightlife is big, however if you are not into sharing 5am metro carriages full of dilated pupils, crunching teeth and earplugs, making friends can be somewhat of a challenge. Luckily though, I got the chance to do it all over again; my boyfriend was asked by his employer to move to Amsterdam, so we decided to give it a shot.
I never thought I’d live in another European city after Berlin, but moving here was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I quickly got involved with meet-up groups and started doing things I thought were fun. Now I’m in a bootcamp group, I’ve joined the SwimGym (an awesome gym, especially for swimmers) and found a job with great colleagues. Life is wonderful here and though I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks, it feels like home. It has furthermore changed my perception of home. Something in the back of my head always said that a PhD was waiting for me back home. But living abroad for a while has made me realize that home is where and what you make of it. I feel more confident and free now. Something I think my mom would have been proud of.