life update

Well, it’s been a while since I posted. Here’s my first attempt at getting back in the habit – an informational update on what I’ve been up to since I posted last.

First, I went to Amsterdam and came back worn out. It was an amazing time and I’ll post more about that separately.

Then I had visa issues. I had accidentally put off dealing with all that until the last minute. I can’t believe how quickly my first three months here flew by! When I checked how much longer remained on my tourist visa, I realized I had less than 10 days to get a residence permit. I scrambled to get all of my documents together. That was all shockingly stressful. I couldn’t sleep and was worrying myself in circles all week, trying my best to navigate the system, unsure whose opinion to trust. It hadn’t ever really dawned on me before that I have spent most of my life in places I have a RIGHT to be. Here, permission to stay is contingent and temporary. It can be denied by someone who doesn’t even know me. The whole experience gave me some small sensory touchstone for empathy with migrants everywhere. I really didn’t realize how the stress of insecure right to residence gnaws at a person from the inside. Now I’m legal to stay here until mid-February. Phew. By the time I was celebrating my residence permit in the evening, the stress I’d felt in the morning felt like it was years ago, a wispy memory.

And then a head cold. Of course. Always fun.

Then, still sniffling, I started language school, my official reason for being here now, the basis of my residence permit. Last Monday I started German classes, every weekday, from 9 to 12:30. I was immediately reminded how much I love school and found myself immersing myself completely in studying. Then I stumbled upon an article about how language learning stimulates the reward center of the brain and faced the fact that I was in a binge-state, gorging myself on the pleasure of learning German. Oh well, I figure, it’s a foundational skill that I need for life here, so I’ll just run with it.

I’ve coming up for air now and am trying to find more balance. That’s my update, now I’m gonna go through those flashcards again…

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