23 March 2011

Immigration to Europe

Piqued Curiosity

Ever since I was first introduced to the European continent, I have had a fascination with it. From my first visit to Austria when I was only a few years old to my more recent trips to Slovenia and Italy, there has always been something that has grabbed me about Europe. Something that grabbed on and said "Life is different over here. We have taken our time and figured things out a different way."

I suppose being different has always been a key hallmark of my life. I've almost always chosen the thoughtful path, choosing to define my life by my standards instead of letting my environment define me. Maybe that's why Europe calls for me - I feel as if I can learn from their experience.

Geographical Transposition

To get down to the meat of it, over the past 2 years, Kaitlin Rathwell and myself, Karl Horky, have been planning the craziest and most exciting shift in our lives - permanent immigration to Europe.

There are many considerations involved in making such a leap, and we are working through these one by one as we encounter them. For instance, we have started the process of closing all of our personal accounts for services that will not be portable, such as gym, electric, internet, apartment, and are also finding alternatives regarding services that will not be a best fit over there (phone, current bank, etc). Another thing is moving out of our apartment and dealing with the ensuing mound of junk that we have built up over the years. We are taking a minimalist tack with our belongings, selling as much as we can and then donating the rest. After countless trips hauling it around, we don't have much reverence left for it. Not to mention the astronomical cost of shipping overseas.

With our limited experience, we have a tentative plan of living in the following locations for the reasons listed:
  1. Vienna, Austria
    • Close to family
    • Great policies on tuition-exempt higher education (Austria-wide)
    • Lively, large, capital city
    • Historical Culture (many classical music influences historically came from Vienna)
  2. Berlin, Germany

    • Larger English-speaking population (possibly more job opportunities)
    • Contemporary Culture (young, vibrant energy)
    • Low tuition fees (managed by individual federal state government)
However, we are not dead set on any option right now, and will need more information to make the best decision possible.

Initial Exploration

Instead of flying over there and finding a place to live straight away, we plan to explore Europe for three to six months first, in hopes of gaining insight into a culture that would speak to us the most. We have purchased backpacks and Eurail passes, and will be taking advantage of the extensive hostel network available.

Our travel plans are as follows and in the map below.
  1. We plan on staying in Amsterdam (our flight destination) for 2 or 3 days to start
  2. Possibly a quick visit to Munich
  3. To Austria to visit relatives and get a feel for Vienna
  4. Cinque Terre?
  5. Spain
  6. Ibiza
  7. Mediterranean journey of some sort?
  8. Italy
  9. Greece?
  10. Turkey (Istanbul)
  11. Back up to the north, to visit Berlin and some of:

    1. Czech Republic (Prague?)
    2. Hungary (Budapest?)
    3. Belgium
    4. Switzerland

By the time we hit the north again in number 11, we will probably be burning our small remainder of money so fast that we'll have to slow down and look at settling.

The intended path of our vacation.

Chapter Conclusion

Although we are about to leave for good, we plan on having many great farewell celebrations before drawing this chapter of our lives to a close, which we hope that all of our friends can take part in. Victoria has treated us so well and continues to be one of the best places for quality of life on the planet. We will miss you Canada.