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Merely six days...not even a full week after all the summer visitors have gone home, I find myself reflecting on my life here in Germany. Friends and acquaintances make FB comments like; 'your so lucky', 'loving your adventures', ' wish I could be there!, 'Let me check......yep....still hate you :)', ' I'm totally jealous...', 'I am so jealous of your life right now!!! :-)'.

I feel like a spoiled only child right now....I should be thrilled with the life that I am living but instead, I am sullen and missing all the things that I probably really don't want to be around anyway.

Germany has been a struggle for me from the beginning....I suffered from depression for the first time in my life. I don't know if it was simply being so far from home and family, the weather (it really was depressing), the huge pay-cut, or the chaos and struggles settling into working with the Army/Government. Whatever caused it, I finally understand what it is to be depressed and if anything good can be said about it, maybe I will be able to use this new understanding when dealing with my patients.

Traveling was my primary purpose in taking this position and I have traveled.... In the 9 months that I have been here, my travels include:

December: Trier Germany

January: Brussels and Brugge Belgium

February: Paris France & Brugge Belgium

March: Prague Czech Republic & Oslo Norway

April: Gdansk, Gdynia, Sopot Poland

May: Amsterdam Netherlands

June: Paris, France; Sardinia Italy; London England

July: Brussels, Luxembourg, Ireland

August: Brussels, Brugge, Prague, Karlov Vary and Scotland!

Now this is where the 'spoiled' child syndrome comes in: I'm not SATISFIED with the traveling that I have done. Not the number of places that I have been or the company that I have had or even the places themselves...the type of traveling is different; and I don't like it. It's been rushed and unplanned and spaced in the short few days of time off work and I never really feel like I have gotten 'away' and experienced the places that I have been.

I will admit that there have been a few memorable moments....I can distinctly remember the feeling in Oslo getting off the Metro and looking across the street realizing that I really did make it back to that wonderful bakery that I found the previous day and it still puts a smile on my face; The calmness that overcame me in Brugge when I was alone with just my camera and it started to pour rain as I watched the central square quickly become devoid of people; the closeness felt with Trinity while sitting on the curb eating a fried candy bar for the first time; the wonderful people that I have met along the way whether it's someone who briefly chatted on the bus or gave me direction in the subway or those that I was able to spend time with and forge the beginnings of friendships....

Even with the good memories, I'm not happy. I long to have a month free to wander like I did in Vietnam....staying as long as I wanted in each place and earnestly looking forward to the next. I hate having to wait for the work schedule to come out to see if I have time to go anywhere and paying twice the amount for the travel due to having to book it last minute. I miss the tourist tail of people coming from places that I am heading to give me advice on where to stay or towns/places to miss. I miss being a back-packer....yes, I'm older than the average back-packer but that's truly the life that I long for. Weekend vaca's are not for me....I long for the next extended trip.

I have been trying to figure out if I should go back 'home' since I got here. I say 'home' lightly because I don't literally mean my home where my family is but simply back to the life that I have lived for the past several years...travel nursing. Being able to not only travel the US while working but also able to satisfy the yearning for the extended trip (and being able to afford it).

My feelings have been torn on the issue of staying or leaving since the start. I love the work that I do here with the soldiers....not since working in home health with dying patients have I felt the satisfaction that I feel working with this unique group of patients. Their sacrifices are enormous and if I am able to give back just a fraction, it's fulfilling. I have learned so much since I've been here and met some wonderful people. However, on the flip side I am broke (making only 60% of what I was being paid in the states); I am lonely; and I want my old life back. I am coming home....

Surprised? Confused?

I've contacted recruiters and am working on getting a travel contract lined up for my return and am resigned to the fact that it's time to move on. I've given it a good shot but it isn't for me. I am trying very hard not to consider myself a failure in this venture which is difficult. There are a lot of places that I would love to travel to here that I'll miss out on this time around but there is always next time and maybe I'll be able to actually take the time to enjoy them.

I am planning to be back in the states in early/mid December. I hope to be able to travel directly from here to my first contract; which means that there will be no time for a family visit on my arrival. I figure if my family wants to see me, they can travel to me as easily as I can travel to them. Come March....I will hopefully have time to spend a few weeks catching up with everyone. In the meantime, I will be working and saving and planning the next extended trip.....

I haven't told my boss at work yet, that will happen next week after I talk to personnel and find out what act of God it's going to take to get everything arranged for me to leave.

I feel lightened by my decision so I am confident that it's the right decision. Tons of stuff to do in the meantime and hope to take one more trip before I go (finances permitting).

Posted by Khandilee 10:11 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Bittersweet End to Part I Europe 2010

Wow...three weeks have flown by. Kailee will be taking a flight in the morning and re-joining her family for the remainder of summer break. I will be headed back to work for my normal schedule and Trinity will be hanging out at home while I'm working missing everyone back home....

It's been a great summer so far. Having Kaillee here was was a wonderful addition to Trinity's visit and I'm sure that Trinity is going to miss her tons.

We still have to finish PCS'ing Trinity here at the base; I only wish she would stay and continue to explore Europe with me. I guess that I have to be content with the time that I do have with her, but it seems so very long between the end of summer and Christmas when I will see her next :o(

We have much more to see and do this summer and I hope that we can fit it all in with work....silly how work gets in the way sometimes! Trinity and I are planning to take an extended weekend in Ireland before she leaves and I am hoping that we can make a few other trips before that. Wish me luck with the planning and organization.

I'm fortunate that I have friends flying in from the states at the same time that Trinity will be leaving. It will distract me and take my mind off the fact that she is gone home for a while. Teresa and Jen will be arriving the same day that Trinity leaves. We haven't finalized any plans yet but it should be an enjoyable couple of weeks of exploring and hopefully some wine tasting!

I will try to update soon.....

Posted by Khandilee 05:17 Archived in Germany Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Nursing at LRMC

Things are changing. The patient load is becoming a little more of what I guess I thought it would be like to work at LRMC. For a time, about all we were getting were local patients. Lots of diverticulitis, lap-chole's, and the like. Now...well, things are changing.

Over the past two weeks our caseload has went from a mixture of locals and a few soldiers from down-range with either minor injuries or medical conditions to an entire new game. I was feeling like it was any other hospital throughout the US with the only difference being that the average age of patients was about 26. We are seeing lots of wounded soldiers now. Amputations, burns, multi-trauma. And they are so young....I have a Canadian patient who is 20 that is breaking my heart!

It's difficult because from a professional level, I am enjoying the learning and the experience. But on a personal and emotional level, it's really difficult to see and deal with.

I hope every night that I can say the right thing and be supportive enough. The wounds that we see are only the beginning. Although most of these boys are dealing well, there are always a few that seem to be having trouble. Recognizing this and being able to support them is important to me. I haven't been there....won't be going there (down-range) and cant even begin to understand what it's like there. I'm not certain that I can offer the proper support that's needed. But, I try...

That's all for today...just needed to vent a little.

So, when you see a soldier returning from the war...remember to say 'Thank you', or give them a smile as you pass them on the street. I still don't believe in what we are doing over there but I support our soldiers!!

Thanks too to all of the NATO troops. You guys ROCK! Thank you for standing beside the US, fighting the same fight and trying to make a difference.

Posted by Khandilee 07:51 Archived in Germany Tagged business_travel Comments (1)

Last Minute Weekend Trip to Cologne

View Europe 2010 on Khandilee's travel map.

I was going to go to Stuttgart for the Spring Festival, alone. Switzer had a change in plans as her sister was unable to fly out due to the havoc that the Volcano in Iceland spilled out over all of Europe.

When I learned that Switzer was going to be around for the weekend, I asked her if she wanted to join me in Stuttgart....she wanted to get away for the weekend but wasn't super excited about going to Stuttgart so began the next three days of 'piss poor planning'.

We thought about going several places. Among them were Luxembourg (decided that we could do this on a day trip), Berlin (train was too long...12 hours), and multiple other places. Neither of us was real excited about staying in Germany but with a short weekend, it was really our only option.

It was decided on Friday night that we would go to Cologne for the weekend, leaving on Saturday morning and returning on Sunday evening...

What should have been a 2.5 hr drive, ended up taking (me) nearly 6 hours!! I started out headed for Switzers place around 0900. We decided that she would drive since her car is much more reliable than mine...we would regret this later. My crazy-ass GPS took me the longest and slowest way that it could to get to Switzer's. It took me nearly an hour to get to her house when it should have taken about 20 minutes!

After a quick bathroom stop, we hit the road. Switzer realized that she needed to load her gas card so that we could fuel up on the way....so.....we headed straight back toward my place!! I live right next to one of the bases and this is where we headed to charge up the gas card and stock up on snacks/drinks for the road. I forget that I (as a passenger) can drink on the road here...believe me, if I ever take another road trip, this tid-bit will NOT be forgotten! About three hours into the trip I certainly could have used a good drink or two....

Car filled up and gas card loaded, snacks and drinks in hand....off we went!

We ended up hitting 3 different traffic jam's all together lasting probably less than an hour...then....the big one! At first it wasn't any different than the rest of the jams that we encountered, but it just wouldn't end! Then come's the fun...Switzer's car begins to overheat!!! We are both urging the traffic in front of us to get moving and silently hoping that this jam will be over soon....it wasn't!

The car just kept getting hotter and hotter....we were in the 'red' now and both a nervous wreck! We had been trying for the past 1/2 hour to find a place to pull off and not block the traffic and still hadn't found one. Finally, we spotted a place just under an over-pass only a short 3 car-lengths in front of us....safety at last! We would just pull off and let the car cool down and everything would be fine....

But...the cars in front of us simply would not allow this, NO. They stopped. Dead stop. Not even inching at all. After little deliberation I decided to speak to the car in front of us and see if they would move forward just a bit so that we could pull off. Of course, they spoke no English...so with my wildly crazy game of charades, I finally got them to understand that I needed them to pull forward so that we could pull off the road.


We had avoided a total breakdown and were happy about this. There was a motorcycle also pulled over in our spot and he told us that he was waiting for a friend and that they were going to take an alternate route through the field that was just down the ditch from the over-pass where we were parked. It was a bit of a decent but we thought we might be able to make it. Before long, the police walked past and again with wild charades, we explained that the car over-heated and we would be going as soon as it cooled down.
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I found my way to the bushes and took a toilet break! How many women do you know that can say they squatted alongside the Autobahn to pee?!? I couldn't help it...I
HAD to go.

The motorcyclist's friend arrived and after a few more charades, explaining our situation and ensuring him that we were really ok, off they went down the ditch and around the field...it looked so easy for them but they were on bikes and we were in a car. With the traffic around us still inching forward, we continued to contemplate our options and try to decide if we could make it down the embankment without any damage to the car's undercarriage.

Suddenly, a delivery van appeared and swerved around us and down the ditch and made it seamlessly through the field to the other side!! Success!! It was our turn.....

We made it down the ditch without any problems and soon were on our way. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing.

When we arrived in Cologne, we found ourselves in some sort of special 'Midnight Shopping' day....the central shopping area at Neumarket was teaming with people, music, and beer and food stands. We wandered around and shopped a little. I promise that I didn't spend too much money.
We got free Coke, ate at the street stalls and sampled a beer or two. Then we decided that we really needed to get a place to stay for the night. Off we went in search of a hostel to stay at. We made a quick stop at the bookstore for a quick peek at the travel guide and got a couple of addresses and phone numbers! Why pay for a guide-book when you can just browse one? hahaha

The phone numbers were a dead end so off we drove to the first one. It was a bust, no room at the inn. They did give us the addresses and numbers for several other places. As Switzer drove, I was making phone calls. The first two that I called were full and I was losing hope quickly. The third one, which we were driving too, had one 2-twin room available! SCORE! By the time we got there, we were both exhausted and ready to call it a night....but we didn't.

We freshened up and headed out. We headed back down where we had been shopping earlier (which was a short 10 min walk from our hostel). I looked for a spring jacket and was unable to find one that I liked (and could afford). From here, we grabbed some food and did a little bar-hopping taking the long way back to the hostel.

Sunday was a fresh new day. We checked out of the hotel and stored our bags in the car. With no real plans, we went exploring. It was a great day, full of sunshine and although I'm sure that we didn't see all of the 'tourist' sites, we were happy with what we saw.
I got to spend a little time along the Rhine River sipping on a coffee and filling out my post-cards. It was very relaxing. On the way to the river, we passed (or rather they passed us) some sort of marathon...with a band and people cheering them along the way.

The ride home was uneventful....thankfully ;o)

Posted by Khandilee 07:11 Archived in Germany Tagged women Comments (3)

Lots of Living and working and not enough PLAYING

I was reading an article on www.bootsnall.com the other day and I just can't stop thinking about it. I'll find it and link it here later...it was about 'travelers' vs 'expats'. I can say now that I have experienced both of these. As a traveler, I have enjoyed the US, Vietnam and Italy. Now I am experiencing living as an expat in Germany. These are two very different worlds....

I have decided (possibly prematurely) that I do not enjoy being an expat. I much prefer the life of a traveler. I really have no interest in continuing to live here in Germany. I have a decent job, a nice apartment (that I really don't want) and have made a few friends since I've arrived. I really liked the feeling of being able to move every 3 months if I wanted too. I'm probably a little jaded on my opinion right now but that's how I feel.

Being a traveler....I love the feeling of not knowing what the next week is going to hold, or where I will be staying in two nights from now. THe excitement of reaching a new city and finding my way around holds something for me. Where I'm going to get my dinner or what the 'free' breakfast includes and if it will be enough to hold me over until lunch. The push to explore, knowing that I've only a few short days and I'll be gone....it's like a drug, I want more.

Right now, I'm feeling stagnant. Like I am somewhere that I don't fit. It's ok not to 'fit' if I'm traveling but now I am living here and not to 'fit' is not a good feeling. After finally putting my finances together in the states so that I could afford to travel and enjoy my life...I am feeling the crunch of living on a restricted budget. Between making less money and having to set up an entire house and now having BILLS.....well, I am feeling strapped. I'm sure it's just a fleeting thing.....hopefully. Besides the fact of all of the above, yes: I'm in Europe. I should feel blessed but there are a few hurdles standing in my way in order to enjoy being in Europe. I'm trying to work these out and hopefully it will happen soon....

Only 285 days left until I can freely leave Germany and not owe the US Gov't anything.....maybe my opinions will change by then?

Going to go play with Aco now!

Oh...http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/10-02/expats-vs-backpackers-why-all-the-hate.html here is the link to the article. My bad, it was backpackers not 'travelers'.

Posted by Khandilee 12:47 Archived in Germany Tagged business_travel Comments (5)

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