I’m not sure anyone noticed this blog went quiet over the last two years—but I did.
Like most people, I was stuck inside my (thankfully two-bedroom) flat, rebooking travel, studying Covid restrictions, debating the ethics of international travel… and still trying to get those most out of life during the pandemic pause. We were lucky in Berlin, and in Germany in general, that the pandemic never got too out of hand—mostly due first to hefty lockdowns, and then to complicated testing requirements that made every. little. thing. feel next to impossible.
As I can imagine it was for many of you, for me, it was really difficult. I had a hard time being stuck abroad, not knowing when I would be able to return home to my family in California. Tim was effectively banned from the U.S. until November 2021—something a lot of Americans don’t even know. As an expat living abroad, my social scene here is my family, and not being able to meet up with friends or colleagues really affected my mental health. On top of all that, political issues like George Floyd and #blacklivesmatter, Roe v. Wade, the endless shootings, the attack on the Capital…. it’s always hard to bear witness to civil unrest, but it does take on a different meaning when it’s your country that’s undergoing it. And especially when you know that you can’t get home quickly in case anything does become urgent.
Despite all of this, we were, as I said, quite lucky to still be allowed to travel a little bit—and in fact, traveling in Europe during those pandemic months was almost magically surreal. I of course got vaccinated as soon as I could, tried to avoid flying as much as possible, and stuck to largely natural destinations where I could get out of the concrete jungle but avoid human contact.
As much as I wanted to write about those experiences and share those stories, when I did get to leave my apartment, or my block, or the city, I needed to take the time to be in that place, and not be taking notes or capturing content. And that pause, while unwanted, actually turned out to be really healthy.
But while writing (and traveling) slowed to trickle, a lot of other interesting things happened!
What happened during my pandemic pause
I founded a business!
As you’ve seen from my posts, helping expats navigate life in Germany is one of my favorite topics (maybe because I love living abroad so much). So I co-founded Jetztpat, a digital relocation and integration service that helps you move abroad and stay abroad. I’ve learned so much about visas and relocation—and we’ve helped over 300 people get their visas, move to Germany, and settle in around the country.
With the war in Ukraine, this work is even more relevant and important. It’s been so satisfying to create a tool that really impacts people’s lives—getting them to safety and helping them start over. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built so far, and super excited to take it even further.
I spent a lot of time in Switzerland!
Pre-pandemic, I’d never been to Switzerland. But in 2021, I practically lived there. I was freelancing for On Running, a Swiss running brand headquartered in Zurich. I visited the beautiful city for weeks at a time, roughly every month / every other month, and fell in love with it.
Tim often came to visit me in Switzerland—opting to drive down with our dog, Heidi, instead of flying. In fact…
We got engaged in Switzerland!
I’ll share our proposal in another post, but it was a complete surprise and very romantic.
We got (legally) married in San Francisco!
As a foreigner, it’s actually way more difficult to get married in Germany than it is abroad. (Many expats or international couples wind up getting married in Copenhagen… the Las Vegas of Europe!) For us, the choice was easier. San Francisco is a city we love, and that we fell in love in. So it felt right to get legally married in San Francisco’s stunning City Hall. I mean, just look at it!
We did a German Polterabend!
Ever heard of a Polterabend? Probably not! It’s a cultural tradition unique to Germany, and it was the only request Tim had for our festivities. The Polterabend is a uniquely German custom where the guests gather in the street to break porcelain to bring luck to the couple’s marriage. The bride and groom then have to work together to sweep up all the porcelain shards. This is said to teach them how to suffer through life’s tumult.
We hosted it in Tim’s village (Idar-Oberstein), and I was so excited that so many of my American friends and family could join! There will be a whole post about the Polterabend, too!
We got (fun) married in Berlin!
We were beyond excited to celebrate our wedding at Clärchens Ballhaus, a Berlin institution. Clärchens, which is one of the few surviving ballrooms from Berlin’s Golden Twenties era, was badly damaged in the Second World War, and you can still see the scars lacing through the Ballhaus’ grandeur. It was such a uniquely Berlin experience.
And despite all of this, we did still have time to travel a wee bit! Notably, to Uganda!
I’m super excited to be back, and can’t wait to share more stories and experiences. Look for lots of posts to come! 💙