9 Questions About Living Elsewhere

1. Where did you live and for how long?
Being insufferably shy, going to the corner store on certain days can be 'foriegn'. I spent years moving to new cities to shake myself up. One year I moved residences 11 times. But these are the times I crossed national borders for more than a month.
Canada - 1 year 1/2
Germany - 6 months
Germany - 4 months

2. What made you decide to go there?
Canada, Vancouver - love
Germany, Frankfurt - school
Germany, Berlin - love

3. Did you have to lie to enter the country?
Yes for Canada. I crossed back and forth many times always 'visiting friends'. This was the most difficult when on Greyhound. I was never bothered in a car or when flying but on Greyhound it's assumed you are indigent and up to no good. I usually travel light - with just a small bag and was once told that, "no one travels with only one change of clothing."

4. Were you/are you legal? Plan on becoming so?
I was legal only in Germany for school.
I would have liked Canadian citizenship but had no way to get it since I didn't want to get married.

5. How did you/do you make money? Did you go there with a job or have to find one?
Canada - odd jobs, cleaning houses
Germany, Frankfurt - posing for art classes, odd jobs
Germany, Berlin - saving, the kindness of others, a few small computer jobs

6. Was housing easy/difficult?
Housing was easy, money was complicated.

7. Was the language a problem?
I suck at languages but was it was only a problem traveling through eastern europe after my cash had gotten stolen and I had to get back to Berlin. Most people in eastern europe at the time spoke several languages but English wasn't one of them. This has since changed.

8. Favorite things/worst things about the place?
Canada GOOD: the health insurance. Don't believe what you hear about how crappy it is. I used a friends health insurance number to visit a doctor, it was so simple! People were friendly, no guns in the city.
BAD: Cleaning houses for money.

Frankfurt GOOD: the beer, the coffee, the chocolate, you could smoke everywhere, people were friendly, no guns in the city
BAD: it was really uptight, ladies down the street weeded the sidewalk with tweezers. Getting hit in the face by a nazi football guy (well that was in Prague).

Berlin GOOD: dancing all night, the love parade, the beer, the coffee, the chocolate, my boyfriend at the time, no guns in the city
BAD: it was really expensive

9. Any good stories about it or advice for others following?
Moving to Canada taught me that there's always a way to get to where you want to go. I'm a firm believer in shaking up your known world. Most people who meet me today wouldn't guess that at 16 I couldn't talk in front of more than two people due to paralyzing shyness. Travel opened doors that I never knew existed. Besides its fun.

I have massive amounts of stories but I'm tired of typing now and it's time to post the site.


- Melinda Fries