First, some news! Today I went to Hamburg to wrangle a passport out of the Portuguese consulate. As usual, it was a treat, and by "treat" I mean "a really long wait with only Portuguese cooking shows for entertainment." As always, the consulate made me feel very inadequate for not speaking Portuguese, although I've also discovered that while they inevitably switch to Portuguese as soon as they realize I don't speak it, I understand with no lag time and no translation in my brain--I just can't formulate answers. So that's exciting. It gives me hope that Portuguese is still buried in some dark recess of my brain and will be relearned very quickly.
Why do I need a Portuguese passport? Simply put, I don't want to enter Mexico as an American. While I wouldn't expect to attract attention at the airport, there's always the chance I run into some security guy whose harbors no love in his heart for us. Maybe his brother got deported, I don't know. At any rate, Mexico has no beef with Portugal, and I think I'm less of target going in as Portuguese.
And now, FOR THE NEWS!
Here's a secret. Sort of. Al and I have been talking about this for a while, but we've decided to go ahead and start the application process, so I might as well blog about it
Over the past couple months, I've found myself slowly becoming more and more...discontent. Weirdly so. At first, I thought it was just the stress of school that was making nervous, but school stress didn't quite account for the amount of time I spent flipping through Peace Corp and backpacking blogs. I tried cajoling myself out of this growing discontentment: after all, what did I have to be discontent about? I moved to Europe for crying out loud. I learned a new language. I started a pretty cool degree program. And then I realized where my discontent was coming from: that's all well and good, but it's not enough.
The first problem is (and let's be honest, we all saw it coming) that Germany isn't exciting anymore. German isn't exciting anymore--I speak it so well, I have a hard time telling it apart from English. Sometimes I'll watch a movie or read a newspaper and half an hour later can't for the life of me recall what language it was in. My accent is so minimal that half the time Germans don't even know I'm foreign until I tell them. I realized the other day I've been here going on two years (and learning German for nearly ten). Life immersed in German culture has ceased to be an adventure and has turned into...well, life. In short, I feel like I've beaten Level: Deutschland and now I'm just chilling out with my questionable turtle friends waiting for Luigi to show up so we can move on and kick some more ass.
The other problem is that my the end of my studies are in sight--just one short year away--and I've had to start asking myself what I want to do afterwards. And none of the answers I've proposed to myself sound particularly fun. I know I'm 25 years old, but jumping into the swimming pool of the work force with my floaties on sounds so supremely unexciting, I think I'd rather slash my floaties and feed myself to the fishes. So I've been saying I want to do a Ph.D in the U.K., and maybe I do, but at the moment I think I'm just saying it for lack of a better plan.
Things I know:
--I'm not ready to go back to America.
--I'm not willing to stay in Germany.
--I want an adventure.
I need a plan. I need a challenge. I need some new perspective, a change of scenery, an idea so ridiculous and so stupid and so irresponsible that I feel compelled to go through with it just to see if I can. I have to know that I can. And I'm supremely grateful that when I went to my boyfriend with this ridiculously stupid idea he said, "That's a really, really stupid idea. Let's do it."
How stupid, you ask?
...We're moving to Mongolia.
After we graduate. For at least six months, but probably upwards of a year or more. Turns out Al is just as hell-bent on having an adventure as I am, and has always wanted to live in a ger and ride a horse to school. Currently our plan is to go through a program run by the German government--basically, the Peace Corp except shorter and not reserved for Americans. Also they pay you better. And presumably do something if you get raped or killed. If that doesn't work, there are other ways and programs we can go through. And if none of those work, then we just show up.
Because FUCK YEAH, that's why!
(Also because I really want to be able to say "the Mongol hordes" on a daily basis.)
In all honesty, the only reason we have to do this is that both of us are suffering from a serious desire to get off the well-worn path from grad school to jobs in academia. It's a rut, and one that we'll fall into on our own terms, when we're ready. But we're not quite ready yet. So we're setting the beaten track on fire. If our getaway vehicle is a yak, bonus points to us.