Six and half years in Munich is closing to its end. We came here because my husband got a job “here”. “Here” in quotation marks because this very same job he is now taking with him back to Finland and to home office.
These years have been tough. I thought that after living abroad before, it wouldn’t be so hard to move to Germany. To the country I had visited more times I cared to count. It was a familiar country, and I had even studied the language a bit in past. Munich seemed very appealing too: city with over 1 million people, beautifully restored old buildings, lots of cafes, green parks, river, close to the Alps… Economy back in 2011/2012 was doing much better (and still is) than in Finland. Surely, I would find employment easily, I thought, and would find my place in this new town.
Two days before we moved to Munich, we had gotten married in Helsinki. We had talked about children. (I had always thought that I would have three children. In my late-teens/early 20s I had a dream of three boys, AND if there was a fourth child, it would be a girl. I don’t think I had ever heard of infertility back then.) We had started to try for a baby already before our move to Munich, and I was hoping that it would happen very quickly.
Year and half later, after some tests were done, my gynaecologist gave me a brochure from a reproductive medical clinic. Three rounds of IVF, several embryo transfers, many moments of despair and sadness.
I had not found employment in Munich in my first year. I had spent it studying the language and accompanying my husband on his business travels all over the world. Second year, I continued to learn German, travelled with my husband, and applied to an MBA program at the Technical University of Munich, got accepted, and started it with great hopes…
With that decision I’m still struggling with. I don’t think I have ever felt so out of place and uncomfortable and insecure as I did during the MBA studies. During the studies I was so highly stressed that I got palpitations, insomnia, was feeling mentally absolutely exhausted, and lonely. I had hoped to establish good connections with people studying with me – I didn’t. I hoped that it would, at least, help me find employment here in Munich, and well, it kind of did.
At some stage my husband told me that it would not bother him if I didn’t finish the studies. I, however, could not give up, even though still today, three years later, I don’t like to tell people I did an MBA. So many bad memories that I rather forget it.
Even though, I felt very out of place during those studies, I didn’t get poor results. Not great, but good results nevertheless. Craziest credit I got was that I was told by the person teaching public speaking that I was in top 10% of the class in public speaking. In a class of 33 it isn’t a big deal, but probably the only memory giving me some feelings of accomplishment.
Doing an MBA and fertility treatments were not a great combination for me. On the other hand, what is a good combination for fertility treatments anyway.
The best memory of Munich is the one that is currently babbling in his room with his daddy about building legos, playing Moomin domino, going out to kick his brand new Bayern München soccer ball…
In 2015, we started our fourth IVF round in Salzburg, Austria. Laws regulating fertility treatments are slightly more relaxed in Austria than in Germany, and since we had heard of one really good clinic there, we wanted to give it a try. One, long round of IVF, two viable embryos on the day of transfer (one best grade, one ok-ish) and finally it worked. I had an easy pregnancy, and looking now back, the later part of the pregnancy was one of the happiest times I’ve had here in Munich. So care free. In January 2016 our little boy Alvar was born. And if Munich otherwise did not give us much happiness, this one did happen here!
Last year my attempts to work here in Munich did not work out. (After the MBA experience, this holds the second place in terms of stress, anxiety, and feeling bad about myself.) Almost exactly a year ago, I started to look more broadly for employment. I managed to get into interviews with an organisation based in Stockholm. I didn’t get the job, but that made me and my husband to rethink relocation seriously. First, we thought we would wait until I got a job in Finland (or elsewhere), but then the uncertainty of how long this would take, drove us to a decision to make a move irrespective of my work situation.
Finland was an easy choice. Family and many friends would be close by, and the society seems to be a bit more in favour of work-life balance. And my German husband loves Finland!
For almost a year we were following the housing market, and this spring, in early April we flew over to see some houses for the first time. Second time a month later, and then in late May third time, after our offer on a house got accepted…! We are house-owners? This still feels unreal.
We found a nice house some 20 minutes outside of Helsinki city centre in a small town. It has a small garden that has a big patio, sand pit, and no grass, but is in its natural state. All the services are close by, daycare and school is close, it is quiet and clean. I will not miss the sounds of traffic and sirens 24/7, drug dealing and occasional needles at our front door.
Of course, there will be things that I will miss from Munich. Nothing is ever so black and white, and no place is perfect. (Oh, how I wish there was a magical way of combining different elements from different places and make that ideal place!) But right now, I feel happy to leave this city behind. So much loneliness and pain is tied to this place in my mind.
In two weeks time we will be on our way to Travemünde to board a ferry that will take us across the Baltic Sea to Helsinki and to our new home. This coming week is our last in our apartment here in Munich. The very last week in Munich, we will be staying in a hotel (not looking forward to that), and on Friday 27th we will leave this city behind.
I know leaving doesn’t change everything, and one cannot escape from herself, but there is a tiny little glimmer of hope in me that this will at least give me a better chance to turn a new page in my life.
Perhaps it will be easier to ease and deal with my depression (haven’t told about that much; it lifted its ugly head last year after the work stuff went the way it did).
Looking forward to spend more time with my family and friends.
And I’m hoping that our little Munich miracle will enjoy his new home and surroundings too.