- Ditch the moving company. They create stress and hectic, break things, at least one of the crew has a bad attitude and they cost you a fortune. Okay, don’t ditch them entirely, but limit their service to carrying the things you or your friends can’t/won’t carry. That is at least my plan for the next move. (In 10 years. Can’t face moving again soon.)
- Wear something that has pockets (you’ll have all that stuff you need to store somewhere), have a lanyard keychain (the best way to keep track of all the keys, old and new) and keep your sunglasses close (regardless of the weather, these are for shading your eyes in tears as you walk out of what used to be your dear home).
- Do not move clutter (just don’t!) and when you unpack, re-examine your belongings again. I decluttered half of my books upon arrival. I tell myself that libraries exist.
- Don’t throw away that empty extra plastic back lying around. You will need it. There is always more to collect (random items, trash, love letters) before you walk out of your old home.
- Pack a box labeled “FIRST BOX”. If you can have that box in a different color than the others to find it even quicker (are there like red moving boxes?), that’s even better. In that box, put essentials like toilet paper and bed sheets. Don’t put the charger for your phone in there. That item is so important you should keep it close to your body at all times.
- Speaking of the phone, you will need internet on your phone. Do not use up all your data before your move like I did. You will feel completely handicapped when you can’t navigate the new neighborhood, look up a hardware store, check your bank account or connect to WhatsApp.
- I unpacked within less than two days. Not because I am a great person but because I have nothing I don’t need so the whole “I didn’t unpack that box for a year” makes zero sense to me. I unpack because I am frantically looking for something in those boxes all the time. That’s a sure sign you brought non-clutter.
- Allow yourself several months to settle in and feel at home again. Home is where you make it, but you don’t make it in ten days. (Which sucks, but it’s true!)
When I moved to Düsseldorf in 2015, I did not know anything about the city. I wondered how far it is to the other cities, which museums are good and which cinemas are most cozy. Now I know all that and I know it’s a livable city. Home is where you make it.
It says more about my situation then than about Düsseldorf how much I disliked the capital of North-Rhine-Westphalia when I arrived four years ago.
As I leave Düsseldorf now, I look back with gratitude, nostalgia and clemency. I owe you, Dizzel. Thank you
- for not killing me on your roads without bikes lanes
- for showing me the immense beauty of the Rhine Valley, and with it, drawing me closer to Germany as a whole
- for placing me in the center of Europe, letting me explore Belgium, the Netherlands and France
- for adding the joys of Carnival to my life (that might just have been the most transformative part of it all)
- for being so small it’s easy to get around but so big that you have the international big city feel
- for letting me develop so much professionally
- for finding me someone who is willing to make Midsummer wreaths
- for restoring my health (overall, I mean. We can disregard my constant colds for a moment.)
- for my general practitioner, my hairdresser and my seamstress (those alterations were worth a lot)
- for all the sunny days on my balcony, watching the neighbor kids play
- for the wonderful apartment that was my home
- for my hood that had all the cafés, bars, the farmer’s market and the bulk store (but why no cinema? I’ve wondered about this for four years now.)
- for the local church that with its innovative approaches reintegrated me into Catholicism (more or less)
- for a workplace that was the Swedish ‘ghetto’ I needed and that gave me fika (every Friday 3 p.m., holy tradition!), new music recommendations (Orup, anyone? GES?) , lots of random new Swedish vocabulary (“gäddvika”, “jungfruben”, it just goes on) and amazing sunset views from the sixth floor
- for all my lovely interns and great co-workers
- for the brief Erasmus feeling spring of 2017 with all the parties in the dubious clubs in the Old Town
The Dizzel years became twice as long as I thought and have transformed my rejection into affection. I will always fondly remember you. And I will be back.
Either I have strayed too far from Sweden or I am too occupied with the move, but this year, I gave much less attention to Midsummer than usual. Or actually that’s not entirely true – I celebrated a Business Midsommar event for work and I attended the Swedish Society’s Midsummer celebrations. But both were a week before the actual Midsummer so that barely counts. Today is the real Midsummer! In Sweden, this is a calendar milestone just like “Easter” or “Christmas”. In my work correspondence, we say, “This needs to be done before Midsummer”. I guess if you tried that with, say, Italians, they’d be like “Huh, when is the middle of summer?!”
I have lots of nice Midsummer memories as my Timehop app always reminds me. One year, I celebrated in my new co-worker’s garden in Stockholm (we had to work the next day), in Hamburg I had picknicks with young expat Swedes, in 2016 I had a hand surgery right before Midsummer, last year I think the soccer game Sweden – Germany was on Midsummer Day. Two years ago, I had a really nice Midsummer gathering in the park behind my house (I think that one so far wins the award for Helen’s best Midsummer). A early on understood the significance of this day. He never questioned whether it was neccessary to get flowers and make a wreath. Actually, he patiently helped me make my krans even this year.
And how am I celebrating tonight? I am honoring Midsummer in the best way while moving house: with a trip to IKEA!