October 18th has come and gone and my flight back to Toronto has left without me.
A few months ago, when I first booked my ticket to Berlin, I’d chosen October 18th as my return date. It was an arbitrary, heat-of-the-moment decision that I made while I was sitting across the desk from my travel agent on a rainy April morning. Without thinking much about it, I’d rattled off a date and she entered it into her computer. Next thing I knew she was printing out my ticket information, I swiped my credit card, and then I was out the door and on my way. Just like that, the plan for my next adventure had been set into motion.
This wasn’t my first time abroad. My first stint abroad was in 2005, when I spent a couple of months living in the Andean mountains of Ecuador teaching English as a second language. Since then, I’ve lived in Mexico, Austria, and Germany, and along the way I’ve had the opportunity to visit over 40 other countries.
This time, however, leaving felt a little bit different. In preparation for my departure, I had sold most of my belongings to strangers from Craigslist and arranged to store personal items with friends. I’d given up my (reasonably priced!) Toronto apartment and packed my essentials into two suitcases. After a tumultuous few years—which included losing my Mom to cancer in late 2015—I felt it was time for a new start. Mom’s death had been a shocking reminder not to take life for granted. Our time here is too short to let opportunities pass us by. So, with that, I set out determined to explore this wild world we live in just a little but more.
Mom’s death had been a shocking reminder not to take life for granted. Our time here is too short to let opportunities pass us by.
Still, leaving Toronto wasn’t easy. I’d turned down a fantastic job offer (one my 20-year-old self could have only dreamed of), said goodbye to my nearest and dearest friends, and left behind the places that made the city my home: The local coffeeshops where I was a regular, the weekly farmers' market in my neighbourhood, my favourite Pilates classes—all the friendly faces who had, over the course of nearly a decade, transformed Toronto from a strange, foreign city to a place where I felt comfortable and welcome. It was where I felt most at home.
But, sometimes change is necessary and I yearned once again to trade in the familiar for the more challenging; to take on a new language, a new culture, a new way of life. Being in Berlin would also give me the opportunity to focus on writing my PhD dissertation, which is conveniently focused on the city’s fascinating and turbulent past.
The timing and circumstances were perfect for this new adventure. Of course, not everything about this transition has been easy, but so far I’m not looking back. Besides, my return date has already come and gone, so I might as well stay for a little while longer.Add this article to your reading list