On the first night in a new city

I moved to Germany to be an AuPair a couple of months over 13 years ago.

I set out by myself with a suitcase and a backpack, flew a few hundred kilometres and got a bus and a train across Germany, in order to live with a family I hadn’t even heard of a week before.

Afterwards, people asked me if I’d been scared, or told me that I was brave or crazy or that they couldn’t have done that. I didn’t understand them, I was just doing what was necessary for the next step. You can’t learn a language better than if you fully immerse yourself in it after all.

I can’t claim I wasn’t at all nervous, but I had so much more to do than concentrate on it.


Today, I got a train from Murcia (and K) to Barcelona (via Alicante but that’s another story).

I am currently staying with people I don’t know in a city I’d never been to until last week (and even then only for a matter of minutes). I say ‘staying with’, but I actually mean I am staying in a room they’ve made free for me. Our paths hardly cross besides exchanging pleasantries and the keys.

As I lie in this tiny room, sprawled out across this bed that is mine for one night only, I realise that I haven’t ever been on holiday by myself. I’ve moved house multiple times, I was an AuPair for 3 families in 3 different places, I’ve been to conferences and seminars and schools and last year to a fish meeting. But I’ve never been anywhere by myself just because.

Purely for the fun of it.

Without a good raison d’etre.

Without a plan or a purpose or anyone I know coming along for the ride.

It feels frivolous – I’m spending money on myself without any kind of visible or tangible or describable payback. There are no course notes, no minutes. Nothing I can show to anyone else afterwards, nothing for a CV or an interview. Nothing I can point at and say, “Look. It was worth the money and effort and time off”.

I’m not spending time with anyone, not helping anyone, not listening to anyone, not filling anyone’s ears with my words. (Your eyes don’t count ;p)

There’s no one else who benefits from it, except maybe my hosts. Just me. Anything that happens, or doesn’t happen, pretty much only affects me.

It feels really weird, and unexpectedly more scary than it has any right to be.

And yet.

And yet.

And yet it also feels good.

And kind of addictive. Like a kick from a drug I haven’t let myself have for a long time, reawakening the urge to just do things without so many millions of thoughts.

I might have to do this more often.

But first I have to find something something to eat.


Barcelona here I come!


3 thoughts on “On the first night in a new city

  1. Yes, must be very addictive! You simply must do it more often. I’ve held off having holidays waiting to go with someone and this can be a real problem when no-one has any money or free time to spare to go with you. To have the freedom to do as you choose and explore things that personally interest you is so liberating. I intend to do more of it myself next year, that’s for sure, hope you do too! 🙂

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