Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Expat Life: From Pinas To Deutschland

I was browsing through my friend's new personal blog and we had a small chit chat about some of her articles and it occured to me: I have been blogging all these time (and even added this blog on www.expat-blog.com) about my life here in Germany, but I have not really blogged yet how I became an expat. Honestly, I have always wanted to write something about it, but either I laugh at my own words because they are so cheesy, or just lack the courage to publish it. But here I am for the nth time, trying my best to finish this story and post it successfully (you'll find tons of links here because I wanted you to go back with me, back to the posts I wrote during the course of my journey). Here it goes!

First Expat Experience
Year 2008 was the first time I set my feet on Germany grounds, that time, I was the kind of expat that most people think (at least that was what I used to think of before) when they hear the word "expat": a foreigner in a certain country for business purposes. I was here, together with a colleague, to attend a training about process gas analyzers (they are equipment usually used in process to monitor the concentration of gas in the chamber or process). Germany has always been my favorite country. I first heard of it when I was in third grade, when somebody from Köln (Cologne) was added in our roster. She is pure blooded Pinay but her mom is one of those nurses in the old times who became guest workers of Germany, hence they were born and raised in Köln. They decided to go back to the Philippines and settle there for good in the year 1992. She got lots of stories to tell about Germany: the food they eat, the use of fork and knife instead of spoon and fork, the castles, the weather and the language. She taught us basic phrases such as "Guten Tag" and "ich liebe dich". I have always been in love with fairy tales and her accounts about medieval churches and castles made me dream of visiting Germany someday. Then came high school years, and this time, a family friend's family also decided to leave Europe and settle back in the Philippines (yes, it's Ody's family!) and I came upclose and personal again with the German language. Although their family really came from Vienna, they do speak that language that I love. When Ody and I became good friends, my love for the German language grew deeper, that I asked her to translate my poems into German language. Then came university years. For the reason of being undecided until my last year in high school, I ended up enrolling in the B.S. Chemistry degree. Funny how other people avoids this degree, and I took it just because I wanted to study in University of Santo Tomas and I heard that this course have the least number of enrollees. Since I had fun on my high school chemistry class, I thought it won't be that bad. I never realized until now that everything's pre-determined by fate, more so, by the One Above. How is that so? It is because apart from Tourism and Music, only Chemistry students take the German language as a Foreign language requisite. While my classmates curse the subject due to these umlauts and diphthongs, I am loving it (for more funny moments in my college days, I'll leave that for other post). Then came the end of my college days and on to real life. I have worked with lots of companies either as a process engineer or as a chemist and I still try every once in a while to refresh my German. I have always included in my resume this beautiful line: Language/s spoken: English, Filipino and German, even when in reality, I can hardly construct a decent  German sentence. This part on my resume helped me land the job at Emerson in the year 2008. I was honestly okay at Hitachi that time (except for those holidays that I need to work), but since I was young and undergoing quarter-life crisis, I kept on forwarding resumes to all companies I found online. Then one day, they called. I went to an initial interview in February 2008, but was called for client/ final interview in May (which was also a bit memorable/ sad event for me, read here). June came when I finally got the result and the plans was already discussed with me. November of that same year when we went to Germany for training. It was short though because we had to go back before Christmas (with us having lots of gifts since the last day was also my birthday), but we went back in February 2009 for the continuation of the training. That month changed my life.

How My Life Changed
Finally, I was in Germany. I got to experience cold weather and snow, got to taste Sauerkraut, got to speak German. It was all dream come true for me. I saw a few castle, and even a witch tower in Gelnhausen (Hexenturm). I thought that time, my life is indeed beautiful! I got a nice job, considered to be really a high-paying job when you'd ask how much I was earning compared to others with the same position that I had. I never thought it was just the beginning of it all. I never thought that one day, I would be living in this land that I only dreamed of visiting.
We were introduced in the company by my manager  that time. Most people working in the production area (where I am assigned to be trained) are pure German speakers, save for two engineers who also do field service that's why they can speak English. Sitting beside my trainer is somebody who changed the story of my life. He was my colleague who became my boyfriend and now my husband. He hardly spoke with me! I always caught him staring at me, during buffet, at work, when am walking out the door and he must still work overtime, but he never spoke. There is a smile pasted on his face (which is already normal of him) but I never knew what was going on in his mind. In December, he finally spoke to me and I blogged here that time the line he said. (I never considered that as his first invitation to go out with him. I mean, who would think of that? I only knew him by name and he barely spoke with me. He told me lately how sad he was when I turned him down that time.) We came back to the Philippines to fulfill our jobs in the Philippines. He never failed to send me emails. I think, the ratio is from every 10 emails I receive everyday, half of it was from him. I recognized the effort on him to write in English, and in all fairness, it was improving everyday. I considered that only as emails between colleagues. The first message of him that made me think it was already something else was when I went for Christmas vacation for a total of 2 weeks, he told me it's going to be the longest weeks of his life. I did not give much attention to that. After my vacation, he told me that he heard about the change in dates of the second part of training and he felt sad that "he must wait for another month." I admit, there is already a bit of kilig in my part when he tells me those words, but I kept on ignoring and forcing myself not to give a damn because I hardly knew him and because he is 15 years older than I, he might be married and is only flirting. We came back in February and as a tradition, there is always a buffet on our first day. It so happened that somebody was also celebrating his nth year in the company, hence it was really a party (with beers!). That time, I got to speak with my trainer's wife and we got really close. Because of all the beers around, she told me stories of past company parties and named those who got really drunk, and one of them was he. I was surprised and I asked her what was his wife's reaction to that, that they had to drive him home because he's too drunk to drive alone. That incident paved the way for me to know he's single. It was as if Fate created that party for me to know more about him. Maybe I am a bit of a liberated one, because we are not that typical bf-gf who went through the process of courtship first. The next day, he tried to invite me out again. He did not put his expectations anymore, he said, he just tried his luck again. But because of what I have learned the day before, I said yes. I went out for dinner with him, simply to know him more. I finally came to know what Haxe is. After years of tears, I started to sing and write poems again, all because of him. He sent me sweet nothings each and every day (which I don't know if he really wrote or got it somewhere in the net). If I am not mistaken, it was on the 9th when I was so transparent that it was then mutual between us. We were actually like Juday and Ryan, no actual date to mention, we just took each day at a time, enjoyed each other's company as friends and lovers. 
Nobody wanted to believe on what we have. The Germans thought it was just a "fleeting moment" in our lives, that as soon as I get back to the Philippines, the feelings would die between us. They never believed that he could handle a long distance relationship. Back in the Philippines, they also thought it differently, due to the age difference and the culture difference. My only reason back then was, "my grandparents also have 15 years age difference and they made it till this time, even if grandpa is no longer with us, grandma still thinks of him." I never spoke to them of it anymore, except for my real friends who found our story to be so sweet. There was no formal engagement, maybe one reason why our wedding was kinda made in a rush. His way of asking my hand for marriage was also something sweet and funny. He didn't ask me directly, he asked my family. He simply said, he wanted to marry me and if my family would allow it. I was shocked, the same way my family was shocked. My aunt and my lesbian cousin were kilig when they realized that I also didn't know this plan of his. My family realized how kind he is and they saw how much he loves me during his short vacation, hence they agreed. That was the reason why my blogs in 2010 was only until June, I was busy planning his vacation and then after that, I was busy completing my documents. He came back in 2011 and we got married. In a matter of two years, he changed my life from dull, sad and hopeless one into a lively, happy and loving one.

Second Expat Experience
In October 2011, I came back here in Germany, together with my ex-colleagues, but not as a trainee anymore for gas analyzers. I came back in Germany to stay here for good, to join my husband, to be his wife. Contrary to my first expat experience, this time my career is different. I am no longer the gas analyzer expert (but from time to time, I still enjoy exchanging talks with my husband about what's new in this technology), rather I am a housewife. I work 24 hours a day. I finally learned how to cook. I used to be afraid of oil in a pan, hence I never cooked in the past in the Philippines (except for rice). I used to only clean my room, but now, I have to clean the entire apartment. I have NEVER cleaned a bathroom/ toilet, which I am already doing now. I used to only iron my hankies, but now, I have to iron everything, not only my clothes, but of course, my husband's. A lot of things changed. It was hard, but it was all worth it. I sometimes feel sad that I can no longer work as a professional like before, and I must admit, there are times when I thought of coming back to the Philippines, but at the end of the day, I realize, my life is totally different now. I have chosen to get married, hence my career now is a wife, no longer an engineer or chemist. For all the great things he had done for me, and continuously doing, these simple things are the only ways I can show him my gratitude for his unending love and understanding.

That was my journey. This is my journey. It hasn't ended yet. The story is continuously written. That's how I came to meet my husband and how I came to live in Germany. It is not a smooth ride, it is a roller coaster one, terrifying and exciting. You have read in my past posts how terrifying it is, how I one time wanted to give up. But when he agrees to stop for a while and assess everything, I tell him and myself, "Yes, life is a roller coaster, and I would never give up, rather, continue the ride until the end of time", and then I end up telling him what Simon said on this video:

Also, DRÜCK AUFS KNÖPFCHEN, MAX!
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice story.:)

Anonymous said...

Nice story.:)

Anonymous said...

Nice story.:)