This is a beautiful potted plant in Essen Germany, where I returned six weeks after my #30YearDream summer assignment. It has taken six weeks and a return trip to gain the perspective to summarize my time in Essen. Like a plant that has outgrown a pot, the supporting walls of my pot had become the boundaries of my creativity. I wanted to grow professionally, but international assignments bring risks, personally and professionally. What was different about working in Essen? Nothing. Everything. The work is the work, but in another country, all the things I do by habit require thought.
Imagine if you woke up one morning and forgot how to get ready, and you had to rely on a checklist. You’d still brush your teeth, but now you’d have to think about it. I came to Essen because of my expertise. Planted in this new pot, I learned simple things as well as more complex cultural differences. So what do you do when you achieve your #30YearDream? Set new goals, and don’t wait 30 years to do them. What’s your dream?
A lovely farewell party was a sweet surprise! I can't believe that two months went by so fast. This has been one of the best experiences in my career, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity. To my new friends in Essen, I say, "auf wiedersehen" rather than "good bye."
Does a parent on an international assignment have to "shut down?" No way! Thanks to my computer and smart phone, I can still contribute to my household. School-related apps help me stay on top of upcoming assignments and tests, so I can offer reminders. Google docs and online banking allow me to pay bills. Amazon allows me to help my kids get ready for Father's Day. No doubt about it, my husband is doing most of the heavy lifting with me out of town, but I can still participate. (BTW, my son made the "I love you" label for me on his first day of school last year. It's always a nice reminder of home.)