Rachel’s Moving to Germany!

I spent a lovely time dancing at the DC Bachata Congress this weekend. I also enjoyed catching up with some wonderful dancers I hadn’t seen in a while.

Over the weekend I realized something. Apparently I haven’t been as public as I thought with this: I am moving to Germany next year.

Devon Rowland PhotographyI’ve been planning this for quite a while, certainly since before I went to Australia. I wasn’t sure about the exact timing until this year, because of course I had to see how some of my trips on this side of the world fell into place. I have posted about it obliquely on Facebook, usually in threads about my frustration and fascination with points of the German language.

So here it is, nice and clear: I am moving to Stuttgart, Germany on February 1, 2017.

Of course you probably have some of the same follow-up questions many other people have been asking me.

– Why leave the USA?

To escape Trump’s reign of terror! Ha, no, seriously, there are a lot of advantages to living in Europe that I am eager to return to. I don’t like driving, so public transportation is pretty important to me. It’s great to be able to go for a weekend getaway to a completely different culture on the cheap. People think I’ve been everywhere, but there are sooooo many places I’d still like to visit, just within Europe! Also, there are a huge number of awesome kizomba parties and festivals within easy reach, with a larger pool of top instructors and DJs. I could keep listing reasons, but let’s go on to the next question.

– Why choose Germany?

Well, let’s start with a very practical reason: in order to afford to live in Europe, I have to be able to work, and in most cases it’s hard to come into an EU country and compete against all the other EU citizens looking for work. Germany has a self-employment/freelancer visa that I’m fully qualified for, which would make it easy for me to legally carry on doing both my jobs: teaching people English as a foreign language and teaching social dance. Instead of having to find a company that’s willing to go to the extra trouble of sponsoring me for a visa (when they could just hire an EU worker hassle free), I will do a bunch of paperwork and then be free to take on work through as many avenues as I like as an independent contractor and freelancer.

As an English language teacher, Germany offers a large pool of students and professionals who will find studying English advantageous. Work ethic is strong in Germany, so I can choose to work with people who take their studies seriously. Punctuality and keeping appointments is also culturally important, so I’m likely to be able to structure my time better and create a more dependable income stream.

GgmaGgpaA large part of my heritage is German, so a lot of the cultural aspects of Germany seem logical and comfortable to me, because they line up with how I was brought up. Socially, I like the idea of making plans with people well in advance being the norm and flaking being viewed as disrespectful. I appreciate how education is valued in a real sense – ongoing learning is very important to me. There are so many other small things that make me feel uncomfortable in vast areas of the United States or in Southern European countries which are completely reversed in Germany. When I first visited Germany as an adult in 2013, I was struck by how at home I felt there, which is when the idea of living there first entered my mind as a possibility. Subsequent visits haven’t dispelled that feeling. Of course I know that I will experience culture shock and there will be things I find less than comfortable, but that’s true of anywhere, right?

There are many other less significant reasons as well. For example, I look forward to being able to walk to a bakery and buy amazing fresh crusty bread on a daily basis. Also the climate in Germany rarely goes to extremes, so I can have my four seasons without the incredible discomfort of some recent winters and summers I’ve experienced. And I enjoy the challenge of studying German!

– Do you speak German?

Ich lerne Deutsch seit 8 Monaten! So not really much at all, but I’m working on it.

– Why Stuttgart?

map stuttgartI knew I wanted to live somewhere in southern Germany, so as to be closer to the rest of Europe. I’d also heard that it’s easier to get a visa outside major cities like Berlin or Hamburg. I got connected with some phenomenal blues dance organizers in Stuttgart who were looking for someone to teach weekly classes, and the rest fell into place from there. They have been very supportive as I prepare to move. One is a school teacher who can help me connect with potential English students. I will be a reasonable train ride away from Frankfort, Munich, and Zurich. Even Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague and my relatives in Graz won’t be too far away.

– Are you moving permanently?

I am certainly open to living in Germany long term. Stuttgart may or may not be the right fit, but I’m going to throw myself in wholeheartedly. Certainly I thought I was moving long term when I moved to Philly in 2012 and to NYC in 2013, and each of those stints lasted 4 or 5 months. So I’m also trying to stay realistic.

– Why settle down now?

I haven’t lived anywhere longer than 5 months since my first year out of college, which I spent in Morocco (and I always knew that was going to be a temporary situation). For more than three years I have been traveling full time, and while I have slowed things down a lot this year, it’s still tiring. There are so many logistics involved in organizing your life when you live out of a suitcase.

piesMore importantly, there are many things I miss about settled life. I want to have my clothes hanging up neatly. I want to have a fully stocked kitchen. I want a gym membership and a bicycle. I want to have regular hangouts with friends. I want to be part of building up a dance community (on a smaller scale!) I want to practice regularly with a few other dedicated dancers so that my dancing can improve the way I know it can. I want to take regular classes in other kinds of social dance. I want to start dating again. I want to be able to invite people to come for dinner or for a weekend visit. I want to sleep in my own bed.

– When will I see you again?

Well, as part of preparing for my move, I’ve been mostly planning my trips around visiting friends and family; topping up those relationships before I become physically distant. I may yet show up at a kizomba event or two, and you can keep track of my travel plans on my itinerary. I’m always available for private lessons. I will be at Lindy Focus in Asheville Dec 26-31 to see my swing and blues family. I’m also planning to throw a farewell party in DC on Saturday, January 28, so you can keep your eye out for that. And of course I’d be happy to see you if you make it to Germany!

– What will happen to Kizomba Community?

I’m gradually going to widen the focus of this site away from the United States. Starting in 2017, there will be no further US instructor video interviews. I will also take down the Events Calendar then, mostly because feedback has told me that the vast majority of you prefer to find your events on Facebook or through your local community. I will expand the Ambassadors resource to include other regions, starting with the rest of the English-speaking world and then adding more countries – like Germany! All the other resources on the site will still be available to you, and you can expect more articles and interviews in the future. Don’t forget that you can support the continued growth of this site by buying the Kizomba Technique Junkies videos! Oh, and I’ve added a subscription option so you can get an email update every time there’s new content.

– Will you keep in touch?

Here is something true about me: I always write back. If you send me an email or Facebook message or Skype chat or WhatsApp text, I will respond. It might take a little while, but I will get back to you. However, I’m unlikely to message you first. There are some people I’m very close with now simply because they wanted to keep in touch regardless of where I was living! I also have plenty of friends that don’t keep in touch, but we click right back into place when we are in the same town again. So, if you’re not the remote contact type, just reach out when we’re going to be in the same place!

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