Life begins where your comfort zone ends

My parents have just recently asked me where my dream to go abroad came from, all of a sudden. According to them, I wasn’t the most adventurous child, near was I extraordinarily interested in traveling. Not more than others anyway. It never seemed like I had the wanderlust or a specific desire to explore the world. Even in high school, when others went abroad for a semester or even a full school year, I chose to stay home with my friends and family. 

So, where did the desire to go abroad come from eventually?

Unlike me, my younger brother went abroad during 11th grade. And although my school had forced French-speaking countries (I went to a French Gymnasium), his choice fell on English-speaking and more distant countries. Hence he spent a whole school year in Portland, Oregon. At the end of his stay, my parents and I visited him to explore the West Coast of America by car. And I strongly suspect that this is the origin of my wish. When I finally saw my brother after a year of absence (and remember, this was a time FaceTime simply didn’t exist, and Skype happened probably only once during Christmas), I was in awe of his development. Not only linguistically, but in many other ways. As the older sibling, I was obviously proud of my little brother, first and foremost. But deep down probably also a little bit envious. Because while he had had a lot of experiences which brought up a kind of cosmopolitanism I didn’t know from him before, I for myself had actually nothing to tell. I was in the same daily routine as before his departure a year earlier: training, vocational school, work, weekends—week after week.


Life begins where the comfort zone ends

I enjoyed the vacation in America very much. Especially the road trip through the state of California left a long-lasting impression. During the trip, I tried to comprehend my brother’s past year in the States. Which is probably one of the main reasons why America impressed me in that extend. Also, during the time, TV series like OC California and Gossip Girl romanticized the American lives of (rich and beautiful) American teenagers. Which made me admiring the rich and beautiful in California and New York – and hence their lives. To me, a life in the US seemed appealing, like a dream. America, the country where dreams come true, the place where all movie stars, prominent politicians, NBA players, and musicians come from. Where they live in big houses at the ocean, or in impressive penthouses in the city. Where Apple was developed, and most food trends start. Everything seems to be possible in the States. I mean, it is the country, where a wealthy family from Newport takes a boy from a socially deprived background into their pool house… I am kidding here, but I hope I make a point. Because even I am aware that the series exaggerates this just a bit, it is the openness that I like most about the States. To me, every American shows friendliness and sympathy to every foreigner, and I simply love that. (Even though I am aware that Germans find this superficial, but I for my kind find it super friendly!)

Whatever it was precisely starting the dream… its origin is undoubtedly on this first trip to America. Because one thing was clear to me after the holiday: I wanted to live in the States, too. The best way in a house on the coast of Orange County, just like Ryan and Marissa, or, at least, like my little brother.

For Daniel, the desire came up much later, I believe. From my perspective, the origin lies in a vacation in again, America.

We were in California and tried to soak in life as much as we could in our two weeks. During our many visits, we had made friends that we hung out with a lot. They showed us how they live, spent their weekends with us, and brought us to their favorite restaurants. It happened that one day, we sat in Besta Wan Pizza House, which is funny enough in a Berlin-Kreuzberg style, with lots of wild drawings and quotes on walls and tables. Here we sat and tried to decipher the sketches and sayings on the charts. And right in front of Daniel, there was a quote catching his eyes: “Life begins where your comfort zone ends.”

I believe that was the point for Daniel when the desire for adventure, for more, first arose. Because our life in Germany was certainly comfortable. However, we were not quite sure if this was all we wanted to achieve in life anyway. A comfortable life is nice, but it might not be adventurous, that’s for sure. Especially since this comfort – thanks to the safe country Germany – was actually already in our cradle. A few more stays in the USA, the realization that our school English was slowly but surely diminishing and the book “The Big 5 for “Life later, it was clear to both of us: We want to go abroad! Maybe not forever, but definitely for sure. Once in a lifetime! And guess where we wanted to go? To the US, obviously.

And so it went on. We made plans, thought about strategies, made contacts, and took private English lessons… only to not end up in America.

You will find out how it came about and how we still managed to move abroad in the next article.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *