Taking a leap of faith toward a better future
*Editor’s note: This will be Autumn’s final column while she takes on this challenge. We wish her the best of luck.
On Aug. 14, I leave the United States for Germany. It’s hard to get across the combination of excitement and terror that such a short sentence evokes.
This isn’t a snap decision at on my part. Back in November I decided I wanted to teach English abroad, preferably in Germany. There was an opportunity to get certified to do just that in Berlin. I signed up for the program, passed the initial interview and now I’m just about ready to go.
Okay, it wasn’t quite that straight forward. I had to pay my class fees and buy a plane ticket, sign up for a German class when I got there and pay them money, arrange for room and board, work out if my computer can handle European power levels (it can) and buy plug converters. I still have to do all of this studying that I’m supposed to have done before I show up for my first teaching class on Sept. 1, and find a cell phone service that will let me call internationally. And that’s only a small slice of the million or so little things that have to get done before I leave. About the only thing I was spared was getting a passport, seeing as how I already had one.
So, yes, things have been complicated. Very complicated. People keep asking me if I’m ready to go – I usually say, “No,” but the answer is more complex than that. I am leaving the country I was born in and crossing an ocean to the place where my ancestors were born. I don’t know anyone there and I don’t speak the language and, if I have read my passport correctly, the United States has all but said they’ll bail on me if things go wrong. I don’t know when I’ll be back, though I plan to stay at least a year. So am I ready to leave? In some ways, I will not be ready to leave until the plane leaves Chicago. In other ways, I was ready to leave years ago. It’s tough being an adult who lives with your parents and a college graduate who works minimum wage jobs.
People have been telling me, “This is very brave of you.”
No. This is very desperate. I have been recently told my college degree is no longer valid, because I haven’t used it in five years. I have been told that I do not have the experience to get into most of the jobs I’d like and I know I lack the connections to get into any of the ones I want. I’m facing dead-end job after dead-end job for the rest of my life unless I do something drastic. This is a once-in-a-lifetime-seeking-something-better-blind-leap-of-faith kind of action and I am well aware of this. It’s not brave. It’s leaning toward stupid, actually.
But it’s my decision and I have no intention of regretting it.