More than 4 years ago I moved to Cologne. I finished school and an apprenticeship and felt like it finally was time to leave the place I grew up, went to school and called home. I got approved to a full time job in a city I had never been to. Growing up on the countryside I never even lived in a big city before. I had no idea what was going to happen, all I knew was that I was in desperate need of a new experience, something challenging and exciting. Of course that’s what everyone feels like after finishing school. You feel unbelievably free and independent, finally released from a time of 13 years you can’t just quit, even though you rebel against it. But I think at this point it’s always a huge step to really do it. I was really young and scared. To not find any friends, to not feel welcome in a strange surrounding, to just not like it. What would I do if that happened? I had to go back where I came from – which was not an option. Scared and hopeful to make the best of it, I packed my stuff and said hello to Cologne.
You might wonder why am I thinking of all this. Tomorrow I’m moving to a different place. I’m not leaving Cologne, but I’m entering a new time frame of my life in Cologne so far. Something new, exciting and challenging. Maybe it’s something that makes sense to me only, but each time I moved in Cologne, a new period of my life started. Probably some incidents overlapped somehow, but important events occurred when I moved. That’s why it has some kind of meaning to me. This should not be a biography, I just want to tell you my experience and maybe, at the end, you can take something with you from reading it. It may be a question mark – it may be a smile 🙂
My first move to Cologne to an outer district was magical, I felt like I finally arrived the place I was longing for. Right from the start I got to know warmhearted people, especially one girl I am still good friends with. She’s the person I knew from the beginning and went through all my different periods with. I had a circle of friends built up by colleagues from work. Slowly meaningful friendships evolved. My friends got mixed up by friends of friends and other people, I got more into partying and got to know people I still hang out with today. The fear not to find friends vanished. My 3 roommates and I lived in a house which was huge, we had a big cellar where we threw housparties with more than 100 people. After a year I quit my job and moved into a nicer area close to the city center.The second flat was beautiful, close to university and in an area with lots of students. I lived together with two guys and didn’t really have a connection to one of them. With the other one I became close friends and we went to a festival and to Spain together. It was a great time, in a different surrounding with different people. I started studying. Got to know people there and made friends with a girl who is my best friend today. I started a job at a coffee shop where I met some girls who also grew very close to me. Another period of time, different people, different parties, a different lifestyle. A completely different challenge. At some point we had to dissolve the flat share.
As I had to move out and move the third time, I got to know two guys who wanted to establish a flat share. On the weekend I went out with them two times and we decided to move together. We found a beautiful apartment very close to the city center, found another girl to move in with us and a new period started. Again: different people with different friends, a completely different surrounding and unprecedented events. Sometimes I think the reason why I’m not in contact with all my friends from time periods before is that I didn’t really have a choice but dive into that new “world” and fully embrace it. Sometimes people just vanished, as I may have vanished for them. But don’t get me wrong – first, it’s just normal to let people go their own way and let them do their thing. Sometimes you’ll find your way back to each other. But you can never be friends with all your friends forever. That’s how it is! Second, the really important ones will make it by your side. An era with a different feeling started; I really settled in the city and had people around me who I really trusted and belonged to.
I tried out different jobs, different circles of friends, my interests and hobbies changed, or, became clear.With my roommates I had a great time, especially at the beginning, but they didn’t have a solid circle of friends so they often did things together when I was with different friends or my boyfriend at that time. I somehow got an unintentional and inconspicuous but present distance. Everyday life at university passed by, weekend trips and travels passed by, and then I went to Hawai’i for a semester abroad. (About that you can read lots in my Hawaii posts.) That passed by too. Now I’m here, got to know the most beautiful human who moved to Cologne for me and I’m starting a new time period again. A new job again. The person I love by my side, a new apartment, my very first own one. Exciting. And this time too, I’m a little scared. I learned to like this kind of fear within the past years. It just shows you that despite that fear, you want to know what’s on the other side. You go for it, you do what you would do without having fear. Except that fear is ubiquitous. And that makes you grow, and curious about all the other things you are scared of – and leads you on the best way.
I don’t want to sound like a heavy-handed amateurish advisor, but let me tell you one thing: Try out different flats, roommates, parties, jobs, hobbies and whatever. Get to know as many people as you can – which doesn’t mean to leave your friends behind. Mixing up circles of friends resolves into more friends and different experiences. I’m absolutely in love with Cologne, and it’s the only big city I lived in so far, but I’m totally convinced that a city is only as good as the people you hang out with. Without them, nothing is fun. Nothing challenges you, nothings makes you angry or happy. Give everyone a chance. Not everyone shows their real face when you get to know them. It’s beautiful to learn which facets complete a personality and friends can complete your own personality, too. And I also think your friends become part of your identity. Especially when I was abroad studying in Hawaii I noticed that my friends, all these different people of different time frames, shaped the person I am today. Each time you get into a relationship with someone, they bring something new to you, and you leave something for them.
Before this post gets too long, let me say what my point actually was: just do whatever you feel like is right for you in this moment. If you doubt a decision, and you’re not sure what to do, you eventually just have to go for it to leave behind that thought that knocks on your door again and again. When you’ve done it, you’ll feel relieved and you will know it was the best thing to do. Maybe just to learn that it was the wrong decision, but that makes something more clear, doesn’t it? To know what you don’t want is better than not knowing what you want. I wasn’t always a self conscious person. I doubted everything, was unsure and insecure about every step in my life. I never knew if it was the right thing to take a job, quit it, move in, move out or study. But wouldn’t you want to have tried instead of still having that thought back in your head? The only thing stopping you is yourself – so just go for it. A lot of people like to stay in their comfort zone just because it’s easier. You don’t put yourself in all these thoughts, doubts and stress of changing certain things in your life. But these people miss out on something that perhaps might change their life. The tiniest decision can pull you in a completely different situation – which you may like more than the one before.
Moving the fourth time is also a decision for me: a confession of love and the decision to settle for Cologne. It’s the city I want to live in the next years for sure. Of course I could have always tried out a different place, but my gut tells me this, right now, is the right thing for me and I can’t wait for my next period starting – which is tomorrow. You should try too. I bet you won’t regret it 🙂