Business trips and tripping out

Today, Max left for a 9-day business trip to Brazil.

Except for swapping out the name of the country, I’ve started many posts with a similar sentence. As a global marketing manager, my husband’s job requires he travel internationally. As a matter of fact, he’s racked up more frequent flier miles some months than most people would in years. So, you would think it’s ‘business as usual’ at the Max and Mandy pad.

Except, it’s not.

This marks Max’s first extended business outing since we moved to Germany, and things are a little different for me. Back home, I felt more independent and better equipped to deal with the life of businessman’s wife and actually liked the free time Max’s travel schedule afforded me. After all, I had my own career to contend with by day and wonderful friends to occupy my evenings.

I miss those wonderful times with my gal pals—dinners out, long chats over bottle of wine (or two), impromptu slumber parties, or the occasional shared taxi ride home.

Now, less than two months into my new stint as an expat, I don’t even have a properly functioning cell phone. And, if by chance any of the four people in this country I know actually called, I wouldn’t know how to retrieve the voicemails. What’s become of me?

Far from the active social life of ‘business as usual,’ I feel more like I’ve gone out of business or, at the very least, out for a long lunch --and brown, paper baggy one at that.

Of course, I could have joined Max on the trip and brought you this post from the beach at Ipanema, but doing so would have been an easy way to avoid the inevitable. Instead, I chose to stay behind in Germany, my new home. I need get back to the business of feeling independent and self-assured once again. I need to be more at ‘at home’ at home. Because I’m beginning to wonder when I was back in in Raleigh, with all my buddies to hold my attention, whether I was ever all that self-sufficient at all.

I must keep in mind life as an expat provides good chance for me to learn a few things about myself. I get the chance to test the strength of my character and resolve to build a life with my new husband. At the same time I have the world at my fingertips-- almost literally—and the time to explore a new culture, meet new people, and earn a few extra stamps in my passport. And maybe in the near future, when Max takes his next long business trip, I’ll be back in the business of enjoying wonderful times with friends, dinners out, long chats over bottles of wine. Only then, I might be able to summon my taxi in another language or two.


running42k said...

At least German soccer starts again this week after the Christmas layoff.

zerodoll said...

you'll be fine! i don't think that self-sufficient= alone.

patches said...

It takes time to adjust to a new location...even when there isn't a language barrier. Kudos for not following Max to Brazil. I would have caved.

Anonymous said...

Try to make a plan that has you doing something every day (or every other day) out of the house in a situation where you can meet other people, preferably English speakers. Try to find out where they gather. If you don't have any luck, force yourself out to dinner alone -- it worked well to meet people while backpacking alone in college, it should still work.

Gunfighter said...


Once upon a time, I was temporarily stationed in Mannheim... at a place called Coleman Barracks.

Mannheim was an interesting place... I had fun there.

You'll be surprised at how quickly you'll learn the language if you just jump right out there and give it a try. German is fairly easy.

Sizzle said...

i bet in no time you'll be surrounded by friend again. even though i didn't move out of the country, moving from california to washington had its struggles for me. i was so used to being surrounded by friends and here i had to make an effort. i'm happy to say it payed off! :)

Danie said...

Diane, did you move to Germany from Raleigh? I used to live in Raleigh (a few assignments ago). When we moved to India, my husband left me a week after we arrived to go on a business trip...in a nearly empty house (2 beds and a table) with dog, child and a few guards that didn't speak English. I cussed him out under my breath more than once that week! Hand in there!

AmyD said...

This has got to be so hard for you...I don't like being away from CL for 8 hours during the work day (I miss him - so sue me!), let alone for 9 days! :o( Maybe you could use this time to research and write a book for people in your exact situation? About things they can do (and resources they can use) to meet new people in their new lands, and how to go about acclaimating yourself into a new culture, etc. Either way, good luck finding things to do - and for getting to know yourself in such a new and unfamiliar surrounding. At least you have us! :o)

Diane Mandy said...

42k - Soccer???

zerodoll- I agree, but I realize that I need to get a little better at entertaining myself and making more of an effort to get out there.

patches- I thought it important to start to settle in this trip,but he goes back in April and I might just have to join him.

anonymous - gret advice! I'm starting to make plans.

gunfighter- I'm actually out in the weinstrasse, but I do agree this is a really nice area. And I hope your right abut the language thing. I'm finding German very hard. Thanks for comig by to say hi!

sizzle - your right. it doesn't matter if it's a different state or country. The effort has to be made.

danie - I did just move here from Raleigh. Where did you live?

Amy - Having you all through this journey has made things easier. That's why you hear so much more from me.

meno said...

Having felt this way when i was in a new place, and not even in a different country, i understand.

Good luck, and with your attitude you should be fine.

V-Grrrl said...

It's hard for someone who hasn't been an expat to understand how unnerving the experience can be, even for a mature, stable, independent person.

I did all sorts of research before I moved to Belgium. I "prepared" as much as I could. I'd been to Belgium before, I knew a bit of French, but it was still difficult. It's exhausting when EVERY task requires thought--from doing a load of laundry in a Dutch washer to buying a Metro ticket to navigating the dairy section of the supermarket and wondering how the hell there could be that many varieties of yogurt.

It takes time to become comfortable, no matter how smart and proficient you are. It's true that life as an expat in Europe is ripe with possibilities and good experiences, but we're NOT tourists and this is not a vacation. Sometimes it's just tough to keep your balance.

kenju said...

I understand your reasons for staying put - but I still would have wanted to go to Brazil!

AmyD said...

Diane, I'm so glad if I help this journey only a little bit. After reading the above post, I remembered that I first started reading your blog around the time you shaved your hair for a wonderful cause; you've been a source of brightness and introspection for me ever since. If I can give even a little bit of the same to you in this unknowing time, I feel quite content! :o) ((HUGS))

Tonya Allison said...

I still find it ironic that the things we find most challenging are the things we grow the from the most. You are one of the bravest people I have ever met and I admire your positive view. And so true, what a great learning opportunity you have before you!