Friday, 20 April 2012

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing… Laurel Robbins

Can your host country ever feel like home? How long before you stop exploring your new environment and call it “home”? 

Laurel Robbins, our guest blogger this week shares with us her account on settling in and settling down, and how she plans to keep the adventure of being an expat alive.

The next stop is… Closer to home
 Source: Creative Commons/ LenDog64

I was so excited when I moved to Germany. I spent my first year as an expat in Stuttgart where I extensively explored my new home. After learning that there were 400 castles in my state, I vowed to see them all. I failed miserably, but did make a pretty valiant attempt if I say so myself. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I dragged him 100km south to see Germany’s only Easter Egg Museum. I also insisted that we visit the world’s largest Pig Museum – which lucky for me was located right in my city and remains one of my favorite museums! And I can’t count the number of weekends I dragged him to see a castle or a castle ruin that even most locals hadn’t heard of. 

We moved to Munich my second year in Germany, where I now live. As an avid hiker, I’ve done a decent job of exploring the Alps and continue to do so, but I can count the number of castles I’ve visited on one hand in the last six months and I haven’t been to a castle ruin in months. Frankly, I couldn’t even tell you where the nearest castle ruin is too Munich. Nor have I explored most of the medieval towns all a short drive (by Canadian standards) from Munich.

What happened? Life? Well yes, I’ve been busy, but we’re all busy. I’ve settled into the pattern than many of us fall into when we feel at home. I’ve stopped exploring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an avid traveller and have a ton of travel plans this year, that isn’t the problem. The problem is I’m not making the time to see everything that is right in front of me. You know, the sights that I don’t have to get on a plane to see. I love living in Germany, but perhaps I’ve gotten complacent, or castled out along the way.

This is not how I want to live my life. I don’t want to be one of the locals who just assumes that “one day” they’ll make it to such and such a sight – the one that every tourist who is visiting manages to visit despite their short time here. “One day” may never come if you leave it to chance.

So what to do? I’m drawing inspiration from my German comrades who love to plan and am planning for that “one day” to be today. Starting in 2012 I have planned to visit at least one museum per month and am three for three so far. Now that the weather has warmed up, I’ve made plans with other expats, who have also become complacent to visit some of the medieval towns that are only an hour away by train. 

When it comes to traveling locally, my “one-day” will be today. 

When was the last time you visited a local sight?

About the Author
Laurel Robbins is a Canadian freelance travel writer and travel blogger based in Germany.  She writes about exploring Europe and beyond for outdoor adventures, off-beat locations, local cuisine and monkeys at Monkeys, Mountains and Maultaschen.  You’re most likely to find her hiking on a mountain somewhere or diving with sharks.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laurel,
    Thanks for sharing. My husband and I moved from South Africa to the U.S. in 2001. We lived in San Francisco for nearly three years; what we loved most about our experience was the ease of road trips, covering the west coast from north to south. From there, we relocated to the North and then the South; strangely, during that time we preferred traveling outside of the country to places like Canada, Mexico, and Ireland. We’re living in the Midwest now; these days our travels seem obligatory—visits to S.A. to see the family and to Ireland to see my daughter. Like you, I have a need to settle down and find a place I can call home. Expatriation can be overwhelming, filled with a mix of ecstatic experiences and dire moments of isolation.


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