This is the final installment of the four-part series “Frankfurt Life to the Fullest” in which contributor Amy Wilkins is sharing reflections on how her family made the most of their two-year expat assignment in Frankfurt.
PART FOUR: Community
Life as an expat can be filled with dichotomies, ups and downs, highs and lows. A few examples (perhaps you can relate) …
The satisfaction of successfully finding everything you need at Rewe (and getting through the Kasse efficiently!) to then be followed by frustration as you try to navigate a phone call with Telekom customer service.
Having once-in-a-lifetime experiences but living a world away from your extended family and not getting to share important milestones and life events with them in person.
Traveling to a new country, snapping a beautiful “mountain-top” photo with your family, to then return to your rental car where your daughter has a meltdown about getting back in her car seat.
While the expat life can be exciting and memorable, everyday life doesn’t stop. There are times where it can feel isolating. Raising young kids doesn’t magically get easier in an international location. There are days where you miss the familiarity and comfort of being in your home country. And hardships may still come. Our family made some amazing memories traveling all over Europe, but we also experienced some of the hardest days of our lives while in Frankfurt due to unforeseen circumstances that unfolded.
What helped us through it all? Community. Doing life with others with whom we could share our highs and lows. Friends with whom we could play together at Holzhausenpark. And friends who we could call to support us when the hard days came. (And who we could support when they had hard days!)
We found our best community in our church and playgroup. We also enjoyed spending time with my husband’s colleagues outside of work. And the connections we made through local expat Facebook groups provided much-needed support and advice. These communities and the relationships we built within them are our greatest treasures from our time in Frankfurt.
When we left Frankfurt in the summer of 2016, we could look back and confidently say that we had lived life to the fullest during our two years as expats. There were Instagram-worthy days and other days that were just plain hard. But it was all worth it and we left with no regrets. We left changed and forever impacted by the adventures, life lessons, and friendships that Frankfurt gave us.
For our family, the ways that we prepared, explored, lived like locals, and found community were so instrumental in our overall experience. I hope your family can find its own unique path and that you, too, can live your Frankfurt life to the fullest.