Flying over Ice

There’s icebergs floating down there. Somewhere between Greenland (unfitting name) and Canada, the sea looks incredibly cold. I’ve spent a fair bit of the flight with looking out the window and thinking about going to a country I was never much interested in. Thinking about how it came to that.

Retracing my steps, it started in spring 2015. Back then I was deeply unhappy with my (work-)life and was looking for ways out.

In 2010, the working holiday year in Australia had been an amazing way out of another unpleasant (work-)life situation. But in 2015, five years older, I had passed the magic age of 30, and was no longer eligible for most working holiday programs.

Except in Canada, where they allow applications from everybody up to the age of 35. So then I put some effort into it and managed to score one of the apparently rare but in hindsight quite easy to get working holiday visas for Canada.

It should have been just an option, but I guess having acquired that visa, it was kind of set that I’d go. I didn’t wanted to go right away, in the summer of 2015, as I wanted to travel around a bit first. Why I didn’t decide to travel in Canada, I don’t recall. But probably because I was never that interested in the country.

I was determined to not go to Canada in winter or any month immediately leading up to that. Hence, with a few detours, I found myself in sunny Adelaide in late January.

Canada was still way too cold at that time. 20 below zero. 20! The deep freezer in my parents’ basement runs on 18 below… So again, I didn’t go to Canada. Instead, a diverse, educational and above all, highly enjoyable time in Nepal followed.

During those months – in my brain – Canada was still the place my steps would eventually lead me to. Preparations for Canada ran pretty much on auto-pilot. Basic country research, flight hunting, flight booking – done.

From what I remember, the stay in Canada was still something I looked forward to at that point. I had no plan on how long I’d stay. Or what I would do. My only ideas were to improve my French and find new clients. Not exactly things one has to go to Canada for…

Then, after leaving Nepal, Canada suddenly became very real. Now it was the next step, right ahead. And I realised how little it meant to me. I mean if I were in the same situation as in 2010, I’d be looking forward to it. But I’m not a backpacker any more. If anything, I’m a nomad. Working five days a week, putting in screen time, building websites.

So can’t I do that in Canada? I guess I could.

But I’m somewhat over my current lifestyle. I’m especially and extremely tired of doing everything alone. I want a partner in my life, be part of a community.

I had hopes that that could happen while nomading. And I’m sure it can, but it didn’t for me. Avoiding most nomad hotspots probably wasn’t helpful… But I digress.

Now here’s my problem: I feel like I’m wasting time if I’m wandering around aimlessly, not increasing my chances of finding what I crave for. That’s why a “traditional” working holiday in Canada doesn’t work for me. It feels too undetermined.

Being more stationary, i.e. not travelling around the country, is an alternative and definitely helpful in regards to anything social. But building up a (meaningful!) social circle takes months, many months. If it works out at all. And by that time I’ll be about to leave Canada. Either because my visa is running out or because my balls are turning to popsicles in the Arctic winter.

Canada is just not a country I can see myself living in long-term.

It almost pains me to say/write it. But I think the most reasonable thing for me to do at this point in time would be to find a place to live in Germany and start being less nomadic. Germany or any other part of the European Union where my passport gives me nearly unlimited work and residence rights. But probably Germany.

In a way it feels like defeat, the thought of settling down in Germany. My dreams and aspirations of a fulfilled nomadic life haven’t worked out.

Just to clarify, I don’t have any regrets. During the last year I’ve seen and experienced more than most people will in a lifetime. It was an incredible time with countless extraordinary moments, many amazing people and so much good food.

But now what? Did I have to fly all the way across the Atlantic to figure that out? Do I fly right back?

Probably not. Spending $1000 for a 3-day-stay in Montreal would be dumb, even for my standards (hello Auckland…).

Guess I’ll sit back, drink coffee and see what falls into place.

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