I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not I should write this post. I wasn’t sure how it would be taken. I’ve been reading more and more people talking about how they want to move abroad, but something in their life is stopping them.
This post is for my fellow Americans, especially women, who feel as if they can’t make a life for themselves abroad.
Americans generally aren’t the travelling enthusiasts that Kiwis or the Irish are. And no, it’s a myth that only 10% of Americans have a passport. We’re pushing more like 40% passport holders.
So I’ll tell you some of the steps I took to move abroad, because let’s face it: going on holiday is not a true representation of how a country will be when you live there.
1. I went to school abroad
After graduating from undergrad, I moved to The UK to complete my first masters degree. It was a move that completely changed my life. Yes, I was that annoying American chick that was confident af but I learned a lot about life.
I went on to get an additional masters from the Universiteit van Amsterdam, thus forever changing how I saw the world, and my place in it.
But how did I pay for it you might be asking yourself. Well, when I first went to school abroad, I took out a student loan and got Fafsa to fund me. Yes, FAFSA grants loans to qualifying schools abroad. But you’ll need to do all the leg work, connecting the schools with the banks that dole out the fafsa loans. But this is a small price to pay.
Oh, and whilst I wasn’t able to benefit from the change, I still think it’s important to note that many universities in Europe are offering free programs to everyone. I know that Germany, France, Holland and a few of the other countries are offering programs for academically qualified students. Thus, you’ll only need fafsa for your living expenses.
Pretty good deal if I say so myself.
2. I got married – twice
Now this isn’t really a step more than it was just a happy situation…well, the second time has been happy. I was previously married to a half Italian, half French man (= one hundred percent crazy) when I was completing my second masters degree in Holland and we fell in love. Well, I thought it was love, but it was really just childish infatuation, but no one could convince the 25 year old me of that at the time. I thought that he was soulmate…and I was as wrong as a hooker giving career changing advice to a former nun.
Anyway, because of him, and our deeply flawed relationship, I was able to live and work in France for a few years. I learned French, got cheated on by him, met lifelong friends, and even called Paris my home for about 3 years. All-in-all it was an experience that made me a stronger person.
Fast forward ten years and I’m remarried to the perfect man. I read somewhere that, “one day someone would walk into your life that would help you to understand why it never worked out with anyone else,” and that is what happened, when on a seemingly regular Sunday, my Vin sent me an email about tacos.
3. Move to Germany
Germany is a great country to get a residence visa. In Germany, you could literally get a contract, 3 to be exact, to teach English and receive a visa to live and work there. You do not need to apply for an entry visa and once you arrive there, you make an appointment at your local immigration office, taking the necessary documents, and you’re set.
That’s what I did. I bought our tickets on a Friday, to leave that Saturday, after I told the “universe” that I was ready to get the hell out of the US, and I moved to Germany with my daughter. Once we got there, I was able to get us into an amazing apartment in Mitte, Berlin and my baby girl in a school only a twenty minute walk from our place.
I traveled to the immigration office and applied for our visas. Germany has a whole smorgasbord of visa options. You can get a visa for being a hairdresser to being a blogger. Also, in Germany, if you attend a program (they offer free, world class, programs to everyone in English and in German), you will also be afforded the opportunity to live there on a type of extended student visa.
But be warned, for all appointments, you really should either speak German, or have a German-speaker come with you. These are civil servants, so you can imagine how delighted they are to go above and beyond their payscale.
I told you what I did, so how about you? If you’ve got more questions about how I did it, then email me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help.
Happy travels Fée Marraine Boutique family!