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As I approach 30, and simultaneously head back to school and start a new job, all while living in a foreign country, I find myself learning lessons well before I ever enter a classroom. These lessons are not about literary theory or language history, but larger lessons of life, that teach me something about the world around me, and something about the world within me.

Despite being able to live here legally, once I was accepted to a graduate program, I needed to change my immigration status. I was told over the phone that I simply had to fill out one sheet of paperwork, and the switch would be made. Once the paperwork was filed however, I was informed the actual process would be much longer. So, the waiting began for me again.

At school, despite my attempts to be extra prepared, waiting also was required. Last minute changes to class offerings caused hours of schedule reworking. It seemed that clear answerer were impossible to find.

After being offered a job in July, a combination of governmental and workplace bureaucracy began to constantly push back my start date. There I was, after a year of under-employment, waiting again to start a job I had already been offered.

It seemed that no matter what I did, I was destined to wait, to experience frustration, and to learn patience. Some of this waiting was simply learning to navigate a new system of institutions that form the basis of the culture here in Germany. Some of the waiting was universal, and some of it came out of my own stubbornness to get things finished on my own terms.

Tomorrow I begin my first days of official graduate school classes. The next day I begin my first day of work. I have a proper student residence permit in my wallet as I type these words.

There are lessons we all have to learn, and often the hardest ones emanate from the core of our lives. Sometimes these lessons come to us begrudgingly through plain truths, and sometimes we struggle against the lessons we need to learn. The lessons we each most need to learn, however, tend to be the lessons the universe continually teaches us. So I say I have learned my lesson of patience…for now.

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