8 December 2019


It’s been almost two months since we finished our 3.5-years-long journey on 16th October. We promised to post some updates so here is what has happened over the last weeks:
- We moved in with our parents for the time being
- For the first two weeks we felt physically exhausted and slept or relaxed a lot
- During the first few days we spent hours upon hours dealing with tedious German bureaucracy. Ultimately we reinstated our health insurances and all social insurances. We also managed to claim unemployment benefits (which remained from the time before the journey)
- Eligibility for unemployment benefits require one to submit a certain number of job applications per week and so we started sending some applications straight away. Within days after our return we also started conversations with former workmates
- After two weeks back home we both had the first job interviews, both through job applications and through our professional networks
- Within five weeks we had both signed employment contracts
- Merely one week after signing our contracts we had also signed rental agreements
- On December 2nd we both had the first day at our new jobs

So much for the facts. Everything went much faster and much more seamless than ever expected.
The emotional side of things is less straightforward. In a way it’s a good feeling to be back home. We loved it to change our smelly petrol stove for a fully equipped kitchen, to have a proper bed at the end of each day rather than an inflatable mattress, to wake up in the middle of the night not wondering where on earth we are. We also had a lot of time to prepare for the day of our return which is a clear benefit of cycle touring as opposed to flying. Cycle touring also comes with the benefit of a rather structured day (think of a 40h-week on a bike’s saddle instead of an office chair). Of course cycling is a much more physical type of work but still the daily grind didn’t come as too much of a shock.
Other things are more difficult to get used to. For the best part of the past 3 years we have led a fairly restless life in which constant change was a key element. The fast success in finding jobs and flats was a positive side effect of being that restless. On the other hand those constant changes mean we feel like we ourselves changed a lot. In contrast nothing appears to have changed back home. There are some new shops in our respective home towns, other shops have closed down. Some houses are new, some have fresh paint. But overall changes are miniscule. The one thing that has changed are friends and relatives. Many have married, became parents, bought real estate and so on. Basically their lives have taken a very much different direction than ours. There is a certain distance and for them and us alike it seems difficult to relate to the way things have changed respectively.
Overall – Do we feel as if we fully adapted to our new/old lives? We certainly had a good start but to some degree it’s still work in progress. To use Sir Terry Pratchett’s words once more - ‘Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.’