A long time ago, I don’t know when or where, I wrote that the idea of being able to up and leave whenever your mood strikes sounded very appealing to me. In the same post, I also wrote why I can’t just decide to move countries. I think it was mostly due to all the stuff that I own. Not just portable items – you know, the ones that you can stack, fold or squeeze into boxes – but what about the big ones like bookshelves and bed and dressers?
I kept making up other reasons afterwards: it is difficult to find good, rentable apartments in big cities; all that paperwork involved; packing and unpacking is stressful; I wouldn’t know anyone; I wouldn’t know all the new regulations and laws that I’d have to adhere to (I’m thinking about moving to another continent and one of the reasons I can’t go is because I wouldn’t know where to dump toxic waste?!); close down and open up new bank accounts, health insurance, pension, who-knows-what.
Of course, I wasn’t actually moving anywhere. It was all a what-if situation in my head: What if an occasion did arise that made it necessary or possible for me to move to X?
I wasn’t even accounting the rational things to worry about: language, culture, crime rate, employment rate, cost of living, political system, economic situation, etc. etc.
I have changed since then. Thanks to Bekka Thomas’ book, Ashley Riordan, and The Minimalists, I have learned to change my relationship to material possessions and to examine my value system. I have slowly stopped giving so much power to physical objects. While I still think paperwork is annoying and to be avoided at all costs, I wouldn’t let it stop me from achieving what I really want. I am re-evaluating my concept of and relationship to money.
The driving power behind all this, however, is that I stopped thinking – no, believing – that I have to endure mediocrity, pain and stagnation. I am leaving that cycle now. I plan to be awesome, healthy and forever growing. I can’t put this better than Joshua Fields Millburn in his essay “Of Course It’s Unreasonable, Dummy!”:
Being unhappy and discontent is completely reasonable within our society. We see it every day. Being reasonable means lowering your standards. Being reasonable means doing what everyone else expects you to do. Being reasonable means living an average life. But I’d rather be extraordinarily unreasonable and content and happy. I’d rather live a meaningful, albeit unreasonable, life. Get unreasonable and everything’s possible.
Get unreasonable. Be you.
Taking my own advice, I am almost finished plotting my next steps. I have to hand in all those dreaded documents – identify them, find them, and send them off – but as far as my intention goes, I my goal is to get a B.A. in English Literature (as major) and in North America Studies and Dutch Literature (as minors). I also plan on going on an exchange program to an American college, probably after my second year. The German university I will be applying to has really good exchange programs and if I get accepted by one of those, all my tuition for the American college (there are many to choose from) will be waived! And there’s the possibility that they will grant me additional scholarship to cover my expenses while I’m in the States.
Going to the States has been a dream of mine for a long time. The country with its history and present continues to fascinate me. Truth be told, I don’t think it’s an ideal country to live in (Germany for example has a far better public education, insurance system, working conditions, more stable economy, and so on. But it is also one of the most boring country to live in, in my opinion.). I’d love to live in the U.S. for a while nonetheless, and what better opportunity to do it during college years when I don’t actually have to pay almost anything?!
Studying English Literature at a college/university also has been a precious dream of mine. I used to envision myself in my forties or fifties or even sixties, sitting in lectures after I paid my due decades being reasonable. Now I decided to skip the 30+ years and dive straight into my dream. To be honest, my dream had been to study English Literature in England or in the States… but hey, beggars, choosers. And maybe I can get my M.A. in either the U.K. or U.S…. Yes, I’ve started dreaming again.
I could study North America Studies as a major (120 credit points) with a minor (30 credit points), like English Lit, attached to it. But in the end, if I have to choose between America and literature, I choose literature. I love books. I love reading. I love analyzing texts. I love writing texts. I love learning about the historical, cultural and personal background on books. Because English Literature is only a 90 credit points major, I have to choose two minors, 30 credit points each. Actually, I could have chosen one minor with 60 credit points, but I wanted to include North America Studies and focus on its literature and history aspects, and NAS is offered only as a 30 credit points minor.
So the second minor – why Dutch Literature? Why not? It’s titled as Dutch “Literature”, but in my case, as a 30 points minor, it is more like a language minor. I want to study another language. My French isn’t good enough to get in, and Spanish and I aren’t exactly friends. Dutch is similar to German and maybe I’ll be able to read Anne Frank’s Diary in its original language sometime! I admit, it’s a wild decision to study Dutch. But that’s what makes it so intoxicating. It’s me being reckless. It’s me being me.