Why I Left Norway, Why I am Leaving Germany, and What’s Next

When I began blogging many years ago (wow- has it actually been over six years?!), I took a more personal approach when writing my posts.  I wrote about expat whoas, travel thoughts, and just whatever was on the forefront of my mind.  Over the years, expat whoas became expat norms and I slowly developed a different way of penning my thoughts on paper which later made it to this blog.  I often left questions unanswered and my life vague in regards to my display of things on here.  But a lot has happened over here.  And I feel the need to be a bit more transparent with certain things (not all… just some) as I know many others have been through or are going through similar situations in their own lives.  So, this is a recap.  A recap of why I left Norway, why I am leaving Germany, and what is next for me.

I left Norway in November 2014.  After a failed relationship that had been over for a very long time and being at odds with my job there, I knew it was time to leave and venture to different pastures down here in Germany.  I was miserable there.  I had a job that never paid me on time, a job that was so disorganized management-wise, and a job that I completely underperformed at due to a genuine lack of motivation and being told different things from different managers and my own personal issues (including the death of my grandfather).  It was a large part my fault.  Norway was no longer the place for me to live happily.  So, I moved.  I had previously spent some of my childhood in the Frankfurt area of Germany and for personal reasons and comfortability reasons, it seemed like the logical next step.

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<mmmm German Polish beer in Germany as I try to keep my sanity>

Germany has been utter hell for me.  I shouldn’t say ‘Germany’, but rather Frankfurt.  I love this city for so many reasons, but it is 100% not the city for me.  I have completely lost myself in this place and I have spent two years here with visa issues.  I’ve had a case worker who has so much anti-American sentiment built up in her it is unfathomable.  I have been yelled at, degraded, and sexually harassed at the visa office.  It has been a real treat, let me tell you.  I have had numerous job offers here, but the immigration office refuses to change over my current visa to a work one and keeps claiming I need paperwork that isn’t actually required for the visa.  I have submitted documents numerous times and every time I end up with a letter of pushback stating I need some random form that I have either already submitted or I must get an updated one as they are taking so long on processing the visa.  I am not the only person in Frankfurt going through this mess currently… I know plenty more.  I have concluded that the visa office is just testing me to see how badly I want to live here.  But you know what?  I don’t really want to live here.  I received the final letter when I was in Dusseldorf celebrating my birthday alone, and it was, again, more pushback and requesting more forms.  At that moment, I decided I was leaving Germany.

I am not 22.  To live my life in limbo of governmental visas just isn’t an option anymore.  If you don’t want me contributing to your extremely high tax system that I see no return on in the first place, that is fine.  I will move somewhere that wants people contributing to the system.  I will go somewhere where the visa office values skilled workers who have concrete job offers, high education, and a willingness to contribute to the economy.  It is not a problem.  Germany is a great country, but it is not the country for me right now.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a lot whilst here… I have and I am completely grateful for it all.  I have good friends here and they have all taken part in writing letters to the government trying to get them to ease up with nonsense, etc.  The hardest part about leaving here will undoubtedly be leaving my friends and the people I care about.  On September 26, I will run, not walk, to the airport with a one-way ticket out of Germany.  Will I return here?  I actually have no idea.

So, what’s next?  That is a good question and I don’t completely know just yet.  I need to leave Schengen for three months before I can come back in.  My one-way ticket takes me to Kiev via a day in Riga.  I was planning to set up shop in Kiev for three months and take advantage of their excellent co-working culture that is currently burgeoning.  I would use the three months to travel around Ukraine a bit and get to know the country better.  Kiev is, after all, one of my favorite cities on the planet.  I was so eager to live in one of my favorite cities for a few months and get to know it better and somehow benefit the place.  I was keen to teach English there and help the young generation in their desperate attempt to further their education (and distance themselves from a particular country).  But everything wasn’t set in stone, despite two nice job offers there (and a lot of private work).

While Kiev was starting to come together as my new temporary ‘home’, my good American friend took this information and started trying to get me out to where he lives.  He threw so many networks at me that I just sat back wondering how one person knew so many hoards of people in a country not his own.  I gave the networks a shot, but with very little hope.  If one network fell through, they pointed me in the direction of another network, and so on.  And finally, it all fell into place.  I had a job offer.  And it paid well and it could be trusted.

On September 26, I will still fly to Kiev.  For the two weeks to follow, I will visit Chernihiv, Slavuytch, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Zaporozhye.  I have my trains booked, accommodation booked, and things are pretty squared away.  And once I have spent a little time enjoying Ukraine, I will catch a red-eye flight to… Almaty, Kazakhstan, where I will work, live, and play for the following three to four months.

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty, Kazakhstan

For new readers, I have been to Kazakhstan before and loved it.  Especially Astana (just kidding… least favorite city in the world right there).  And while Bishkek was the highlight of my Central Asia trip, I loved Almaty and found her to be very livable.  I always said that if for some reason I had to move to Central Asia one day, Almaty would be home.  I always said that jokingly and had no notion that I would ever actually be moving to Almaty.  I guess weirder things have happened.

I should be very excited about all of this, but it comes with a price.  I am leaving behind my dog and my wonderful relationship for that temporary move.  But, such is life with an American passport and the Schengen zone.  My partner will come visit me at the end of November for Thanksgiving and I bet in no world did he imagine he would ever be spending Thanksgiving in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.  This is the price one sometimes has to pay for being in an international relationship (he is British).  This move has inflicted copious amounts of stress on my body that it is causing me to not sleep at night.  But, we both know it is time for me to get away from Germany and this is step one.

Almaty, Kazakhstan

<really hoping I can score some canine friends in Almaty upon arrival>

Once my three months outside of Schengen are up, we will consciously decide on our next chapter.  We have some ideas in mind of what we will aim for but there is just no telling what will happen.  We are keeping options open and our fingers crossed.

I miss the chocolate in Norway.  I miss my friends in Norway.  I miss the nature in Norway.  I don’t miss the government control in Norway (seriously, if I want to buy beer at 8:05pm on a Monday, let me do so dangit!).  I don’t miss the short daylight hours in winter in Norway.  And I don’t miss the prices in Norway.

I will miss my dog, partner, and friends in Germany.  I will miss my favorite restaurants here in Frankfurt (we have some decent international flavors here).  I will miss the flight options at the Frankfurt Airport, even if I won’t miss the airport itself.  I won’t miss getting regular German dictionaries in my mailbox due to xenophobic and hateful people here.  I won’t miss the incompetencies of the immigration office and the mounds of paperwork and inconveniences that come with everyday life here.  And I won’t miss people scowling and complaining at others for no reason.

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 I look forward to the mountains of Almaty, even if they are often not visible due to the smog.  I look forward to cozying up in one of Almaty’s many cafes when the first snowfall hits the city.  I look forward to getting to know a new city as its resident, particularly one that has some extremely friendly locals.  I also look forward to seeing a bit more of the region while I am there.  I don’t look forward to being far away from the ones I love.  And I am not sure I look forward to those cold, cold Almaty winters.  But mostly I am optimistic.

I have spent the last six years in Europe letting the government decide everything for me when it comes to staying in a country.  This is the first time I have made the decision myself that a place isn’t working for me.  So, for the first time in six years, I feel slightly liberated… at least until the end of the year.

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Megan is a digital marketing strategist and world traveler based in Frankfurt, Germany but hailing from Richmond, Virginia. She has traveled to over 85 countries and 45 US states and has a special love for the Nordics and Eastern Europe. Her passions are animals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ohio State football, craft beer, coffee, and copious amounts of concrete. She is also an advocate for removing dill from all dishes globally.
37 Comments
  • Silvia
    Posted at 11:38h, 09 September Reply

    Wow, did not see that twist coming! I completely agree with you about Almaty – Kazakhstan wasn’t my favorite country in Central Asia (though I spent the least amount of time there, so maybe it’s not fair to judge) but I immediately thought that I could totally live in Almaty. I think this is so exciting! Maybe I can come visit?! I can imagine that being away from your relationship and dog is going to be rough, but I love that you’ve taken your fate in your own hands instead of just waiting for more visa rejections (um, seriously though, that sounds like a nightmare). Good luck, and I look forward to stalking you this winter!
    Silvia recently posted..10 Things I Hate About BergenMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 17:02h, 12 September Reply

      Thanks Silvia!!! It has definitely been a stressful two years and I am in desperate need for change and freedom! I know you weren’t overly fond of KZ :P And based on your experiences there, I wouldn’t be either haha! And you’re always welcome to come out there for a visit! I finally get back to cold Norwegian like temperatures woohooooo. And now my parka does not fit due to German beer weight. Hmmm… ;) Happy Monday!

  • Emily
    Posted at 12:59h, 09 September Reply

    Good luck to you on all of the big jumps you have to make to get through these governmental hoops. I hope you’ll enjoy your 3-4 months in Kazakhstan and make the most of the time away. I’m excited to find out where you think you’ll end up!

    • Megan
      Posted at 17:00h, 12 September Reply

      Thanks so much Emily!!! I am hoping to be in RVA in February if all goes well and we are definitely going out for a drink and chat when I am there!! <3

  • Shing
    Posted at 16:28h, 09 September Reply

    Every so often I like reading posts like this, ones that shine the light on the author, it really gives me a sense of who you are. In old age they say we end up regretting the things we don’t do more than anything else, and I truly believe this. Even though I only know you from a distance, and electronically at that, your desire to fill your life with experiences and extraordinary change tells me you’ll have few regrets but many, many stories and friends (friends that help you find jobs in places like Kazakhstan!).

    Good luck, I hope the move goes as smoothly as it possibly can!

    • Megan
      Posted at 17:00h, 12 September Reply

      I love having this blog because I love connecting with people like you, Shing. And I mean it. Thanks so much for your well wishes and I can’t wait until we meet up one of these days. <3 You always have someone in Kazakhstan in the meantime!

  • Kari
    Posted at 16:45h, 09 September Reply

    You are the greatest rockstar I know who can handle this. And what an unexpected amazing adventure this is for you, I can feel it. And who knows, Kiev and Ukraine very likely still call your name. I can’t wait to find out. Sure as hell though, I’m gonna find you in one of these places, one of these days. As a blog reader though, I CANNOT wait for the posts all about the nature, the beer, and the food. Bring it woman, bring it. xo

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:58h, 12 September Reply

      Thank you so much Kari!!!! You have been a major support system over the last few years and I am forever indebted to you as a result. I am sure I will be seeing you next time I am in the City (February if all goes well!!) Miss and love you <3

  • Jasilyn
    Posted at 17:35h, 09 September Reply

    I was trying to convince Anton to go to Kazakhstan, and he said it was boring. I told him “coming from a guy from Siberia.” But I would love to visit while you are there! And if you’re ever in Russia stop by Ufa!
    Jasilyn recently posted..3 Reasons to Ride the Moscow MetroMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:56h, 12 September Reply

      Hahhahaha!!! I have a Russian friend who scoffed at me for going to Belarus back in the day saying “It’s boring”. You’re always welcome down to Almaty! I may be staying in a hostel though because I am not sure how difficult arranging accommodation will be and it is not something I care to get too deep involved in, if that makes sense!

  • grammy goodwill
    Posted at 18:40h, 09 September Reply

    You know, just the other day I thought about emailing you to see exactly what you were up to and what your plans are. I didn’t because I was embarrassed that I never made it on the trip to Central Europe that you kindly gave me some advice on! (Maybe you don’t even remember me asking you, but I really wanted to go. It just didn’t work out.) Anyway, your life/travel story fascinates me and I’m sorry to hear it hasn’t been all fun. I’m glad you’ve made the decision to do what you want. I’m sure your plans will work out fine and I look forward to reading about your new adventure. All the best to you from Roanoke, VA.

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:55h, 12 September Reply

      Thanks for your message!!! And those tips I gave you will definitely work in the future so I can’t wait to hear how they are put to use some day down the road :) I appreciate the well wishes- it has been stressful but it really helps me know I am taking the right plunge (I guess I don’t have a whole lot of other options anyways haha). Sending love from Germany to VA <3

  • Jordan
    Posted at 11:26h, 10 September Reply

    Ahhhh…we never got to meet up in Germany :( I am so so so so sorry about all your visa issues and wish I had known sooner because I literally got a work visa right on the spot in Hamburg. Plus, I know some good lawyers that work specifically with Americans in Germany. Although I’m sad you’re leaving Germany, I’m so excited for your next adventures!!!

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:52h, 12 September Reply

      I am so sad we never met up! I think I spent much of my time here trying to work online since they wouldn’t let me work here legally and fretting about the small stuff. I definitely need a fresh start somewhere different! That is so great they are a bit more relaxed with things up in Hamburg area. I know people here who have had terrible experiences and some with great experiences when it comes to visas. I just so happened to fall in the first category. First world problems right? There are over a million people here seeking refuge and I am whining about my visa issues… seems pretty lame but it is stressful trying to get it all sorted, especially with a dog involved. Hopefully once I am back in Schengen we can connect in person!!! Have a great week!

  • Tempesst
    Posted at 16:31h, 10 September Reply

    I can’t wait to follow along with your Almaty life. Good for you for taking your fate into your own hands–that is truly admirable. Wishing you lots of luck and a smooth move/transition!
    Tempesst recently posted..How To Become A Travel Nurse + Travel The WorldMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:50h, 12 September Reply

      Thanks so much Tempesst! I appreciate the well wishes and if you just so happen to touch down in Central Asia, let me know and we can connect :):) Happy Monday!

  • Jure
    Posted at 01:05h, 11 September Reply

    I always enjoy my stay in Germany when I visit, but living there must be a whole different matter.
    I know Germans who moved out of the country because everything is so overregulated.
    Dealing with German bureaucracy would be bad even if the clerks were helpful – can’t imagine what it’s like when they’re mean to you.
    Enjoy the time in Kiev and have a wonderful life in Almaty!

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:48h, 12 September Reply

      It is a great place here but just not the right place for me currently. Maybe one day I will yearn for it again :) Minus the paperwork… I will always hate paperwork regardless of the country dumping it in my face! Thanks so much for your well wishes! Hope all is well in Slovenia!

  • Nick
    Posted at 12:37h, 11 September Reply

    Such a pleasure to have met you in Frankfurt last week, Megan. Your outlook is so inspiring and real. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but you sure know how to make lemonade out of some super sour German lemons (they’re imported anyway!)

    I can’t wait to follow your travels more, and hope we can meet again sooner rather than later.

    Big hugs,
    Nick

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:45h, 12 September Reply

      Awwww thank you :) And it was a pleasure meeting up with you. You got to meet the hotmess behind this blog in person. ;) Was a fun morning enjoying coffee and beers before noon. Been loving following your Central Asia trip- can’t wait to get out there soon! <3

  • Mark
    Posted at 11:59h, 12 September Reply

    Almaty is certainly the best city in Central Asia in which to live. Probably don’t go back to Astana, you may get lynched :-) and try and hang around for a bit of the summer and make the journey along the Pamir Highway and through the Wakhan Valley – for us, it was one of the best journeys we have done since leaving home nearly nine years ago. Good luck with everything.

    PS, Zaporozhye and Kharkiv look like interesting cities.
    Mark recently posted..Visiting Buzludzha Communist Party HQ in BulgariaMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:43h, 12 September Reply

      I totally agree about Almaty! I loved Bishkek so much but it isn’t the right city for me to live in (I think). I actually was thinking that if I do apply for the 90 day visa for Kazakhstan that I will probably need to delete my nasty post about the city. Would be awesome to get rejected all because I wrote an angry post years ago lol. Thanks so much for the kind words and hopefully we can connect at some point in the near future! PS: I’m completely looking forward to Ukraine and can’t even think about settling in Almaty yet. Just love that entire country!

      • Mark
        Posted at 17:50h, 12 September Reply

        With you on Ukraine. We’ve got at least ten posts we would like to write but as always the travelling gets in the way of writing them – priorities, priorities!!!

        We aim to return to Central Asia (mainly Uzbekistan) around April/May of next year so hooking up may work out!

        • Megan
          Posted at 09:29h, 16 September Reply

          Uzbekistan!? Niceeee. I am hoping to get there while out that way this fall/winter :) I hope they can keep things call and collected over there in the meantime. Fingers crossed!

  • Laura
    Posted at 14:17h, 12 September Reply

    Good luck with your move – it really sounds like your time in Germany has been pretty challenging, so a fresh start and a bit of space and time should do you the world of good. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about Almaty :)
    Laura recently posted..What to do in Bath, SomersetMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 16:41h, 12 September Reply

      Thanks Laura! Yea sometimes it is just the wrong place at the wrong time scenario and that has been Germany for me. Maybe one day it’ll be the right place at the right time.

  • Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    Posted at 04:41h, 13 September Reply

    Almaty! That’s so cool! A friend of mine just moved to Astana (don’t worry, I didn’t share your post with her LOL) and I’ve been thinking about visiting. So our paths might cross yet :-) Good luck with the move!

    PS – I’m super bummed I won’t be there to greet you in Riga :-(
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun recently posted..Falling in Love with Helsinki, FinlandMy Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 09:28h, 16 September Reply

      Haha I think I may have to delete my Astana post on my blog when in KZ or I may end up kicked out. Maybe I’ll revisit the city and have something good to say about it after all.

      So…. Taiwan is just a short flight (okay, short-ish) from Almaty if you’re ever looking for a random winter getaway.

      I’m bummed you won’t be in Riga either :( I get so stoked when I pass through the city as it feels like a home away from home for me.

  • Victoria @The British Berliner
    Posted at 08:05h, 13 September Reply

    I’ve loved reading all about your thoughts living in Germany, especially from the viewpoint of an American. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve decided to leave, but your new destination is pretty exciting. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing!

    Even with all the troubles you’ve been through, you sound like a girl who’s head is firmly on her shoulders, and you’ll get by. ‘Best of luck in the ‘Stans!
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted..How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!My Profile

    • Megan
      Posted at 09:19h, 16 September Reply

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Victoria! It was such a bummer the way things panned out as it has left a bad taste in my mouth, but everything is so circumstantial and I realize that. Maybe one day I’ll end up back here for good and things will go more in my favor. And if they don’t, it simply wasn’t mean to be and that is okay too :) I can complain about the visa thing all day long, but when it comes down to things, I know my homeland’s visa policies are 1000 times harder for people, so it’s really just a first-world problem at this point and one I need to move on from. If you happen to venture out to the Stans, let me know <3 <3

  • Anastasia Sofia
    Posted at 18:27h, 13 September Reply

    After this summer, I can definitely see why you chose Almaty as a temporary residence – such a livable city! Things have a funny way of falling in to place, even though at times it feels like they won’t. I’m excited to see where you end up, and hope working things out isn’t too stressful. Treat the interim as an adventure!

    • Megan
      Posted at 09:16h, 16 September Reply

      I literally never in a million years thought life would take me back to Almaty to be honest. I’m glad you enjoyed it there and if you fancy coming back mid-winter (haahhah), I’ll be waiting with open arms and a massive parka :P

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  • Van @ Snow in Tromso
    Posted at 17:46h, 15 September Reply

    Good luck on whatever’s next! I can completely understand the things you don’t enjoy in Norway and I don’t particularly enjoy my workplace there either. It’s still better than anything I could have gotten in Germany though so that says something :D In Germany they even make things utterly complicated for their own citizens so I didn’t expect anything else from their immigration services. Sorry to hear that you had such a terrible time though!!

    • Megan
      Posted at 09:13h, 16 September Reply

      Thanks so much Van! It is so nice that us expats can understand each other’s whoas and unique experiences. It would be too easy if everything went seamlessly for us all :P Who knows, maybe my next chapter takes me to Tromsø. Wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen, that’s for sure! Hope all is well in the Arctic!! <3

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