It’s been three weeks since I became an Alumni. Also, it’s been 10 days since I started a life in a brand new country. Currently, I’m not even remotely close to my home, Japan. Somehow, my life has decided to take a whimsical turn, and I ended up in Frankfurt, Germany.

This, was not the plan when I started my fellowship. I was in the United States for two years by then, and I was liking the idea of going home. When the time came to go home, I was certain that I’d find opportunities where I can apply my knowledge and skills back home, where nonprofit sector is still very much underdeveloped.

Then my neuroscientist husband started to talk about this marvelous lab in Frankfurt that he’s looking into applying. It was just a fun idea at the time – him working in Frankfurt and working on crazy experiments – until he actually applied and got the job. Now came the dilemma. While he had an awesome job lined up, I would have nothing. In fact, I didn’t know anything about Germany, and did not speak a word of German (still don’t). All my Google search indicated that finding a job in Germany would be very difficult, especially if I wasn’t an engineer or doctor. An option was to do long distance marriage for a couple of years, then find a new country to live together. But we did long distance before marrying, and it was one of the hardest things that I had to do in my life. Also, years of separations would have been detrimental to our relationship. So in the end, we agreed that we’d move to Germany, together.

When we agreed, we also agreed to “take turns claiming our glories”. So this time, my husband will decide based on his career, and next time when we move in 3-5 years, I will. It’s been a struggle to make peace with this decision, but what can you do when your partner gets a dream job?

This is our way of solving the two body problem – I know that some fellows or applicants are married, and might be facing the same issue. I often wonder how other couples deal with this.

A week later I got into Frankfurt (a lovely city, by the way), I started to volunteer at a social business firm. I’ve only been working here for a couple of days, but it is becoming exceedingly clear that job options here at Frankfurt is limited. I might have to leave the sector entirely, I’m not sure. But if a year of Fellowship taught me anything, it’s to be open minded. Be open to new values, new opportunities, new people, which is what I plan on doing here. My new chapter has just begun, and I have no idea how I turn out to be, but I hope it’ll turn out all right.

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