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As the 2020 is already upon us, it’s time for a brief review of the past year alongside some personal learnings that I can hopefully incorporate into my life for the upcoming year.
There are quiet years where it seems like nothing significant is happening, and there are years where it seems that they are packed up with so many things and significant events that it is very hard to put them into perspective and think about them in a critical way without resorting to unnecessary cliches or overbearing generalisations and 2019 was such a year for me.
Here is what mostly happened and some learnings that I gathered throughout the year for my self-development:
The year started very quietly with an underwhelming modest celebration, at the end of which I was shouting and swearing at the world whilst literally banging myself at someone’s metal fence near the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße, blindly drunk and totally off my head due to an earlier very heated political argument I had with a very good friend at the underwhelming party we spontaneously decided to gatecrash on for New Year’s Eve, which due to my total stupidity and drunkenness at the time, seeped into the Berlin streets afterwards.
- Never argue on political topics, especially on New Year’s Eve after having consumed copious amounts of wine, whiskey and beer during the evening. You would end up ruining everyone’s evening for no reason whatsoever, whilst making yourself a total fool or even worse in front of people you most likely really care about.
- Never gatecrash parties you are unsure about. You would most likely end up pissed off, very drunk or as it was in my case, both.
After this brief episode, the usual after-new-year quiet period followed where pretty much nothing happened and everyone was just trying to survive the cold Berlin January whilst attempting to put their finances in order after the Christmas shopping frenzy.
In February, my transfer to the US was almost imminent, so me and my colleagues who also were being transferred to New York, had to start taking care of the bureaucracy needed to complete the process such as applying for our work visas for the US, surrendering our Berlin apartments, and generally winding down our affairs in Germany and having this as a backdrop to meeting all of our friends and saying goodbye to people we worked and partied with for more than 3 years. This process took a bit more than 2 months at the end of which I was really exhausted and not looking forward to anything else than just having my own place in New York where I can chill for a few weeks and try to process what just happened in peace.
On top of all of this, I, almost by accident, met a very beautiful and caring girl that attracted me so much that despite the fact that I was moving to the US in weeks, we started dating and when I finally moved, it was very hard for me to leave her behind in Berlin.
- The world is very global, but on a personal level it is very local and moving from one place to another, even with an excellent personal and corporate support is a difficult undertaking and usually affects you deeply even if you don’t realise it at the time.
- In hindsight, dating before moving countries is one of the most disgusting things you can do to yourself and to your potential partner. Yes, it might seem not like a big deal to you at the time when you are really in love and trying to make it work, but you would subsequently realise that it is extremely rare for such a relationship to last more than a couple of months, without you being physically together or making an effort to go and see each other from time to time, and dating in such circumstances would most likely bring you an unnecessary pain and misery that you can most probably avoid.
- Settling into a highly bureaucratic country like Germany is hard and painful, getting out of it is equally so.
Settling into the US
In the middle of March, we finally moved to New York City and we had to switch context literally from one day to the other and to try and settle into the country as soon as possible as we were technically obliged to start work on the first working day of April, so applying for a social security number and a bank account and finding an apartment was a top priority. We were lucky enough and pretty much 7 days after we landed at JFK, we were already having our social security cards, bank accounts, credit cards and apartments. Our immediate needs were pretty much met extremely quickly, so we could start slowly building our lives into the new country.
- The US is an extremely easy country to settle into, as long as your employer supports you and you have a couple thousand dollars saved aside for such a scenario.
- Knowing the language of the country you are moving into is not only optional, it is a lifesaver that will make your life much easier long-term.
- You have to pay for pretty much everything and social, job security and accessible healthcare are terms America is not familiar with at all.
- Surprisingly for me, New York City is one of the dirtiest most disgusting places I have ever lived into. The trash is literally everywhere and people accept it as part of the fabric of the city somehow.
Peace and Quiet
After April, I slowly started getting into a routine and for the next 8 months nothing major happened pretty much. I started exploring the bars and restaurants of this great city, occasionally did a touristy thing or two, went back to Europe to see family and friends a couple of times, and generally got into a usual life pattern.
- New York City has a lot of things to offer, but you better take your time to explore them at your pace. That way you would be able to enjoy it significantly more than if you were to try and experience everything within your first month after settling in here.
- The flights to Europe are not as expensive as you may think (especially compared to the domestic ones within the US) and as long as you use Amsterdam or London as your landing points within Europe, you could go there pretty frequently without having to break the bank for long and inconvenient flights.
2019 was generally a good year for me and I am extremely happy and grateful that I had the immense opportunity to move to and experience New York City as a true local, I am grateful for my friends, who despite the vast distance and time zone difference still keep on supporting and believing in me, and I realise how privileged I am for being able to travel the world, being able to celebrate my 30th birthday and New Year’s Eve in New York City and for the various tiny little things that happened throughout 2019 which put a smile on my face.
I hope that 2020 would be an even better year, that I would be able to have even more interesting experiences to share with my friends and family and most important of course, that everyone I care about would be strong and healthy and that we would keep on having great moments together in the brand-new decade.
Have a lovely, prosperous and healthy new 2020! Cheers!