If you know me from the market in Winchester, or have been following me on social media for a little while, you probably know that I’m German. I came to the UK more than six years ago to do my PhD in palaeoclimate science at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne. This is where I met my now husband Jack, which led me to stay in England after I had completed my PhD.
My time in the UK
A lot has changed in those six years, both in my life and the world around me. I’ve always wanted to live in the UK, it was a country that I looked up to when I lived in Germany, that I wanted to get to know better, that I wanted to live in to improve my English – Tick! I’ve done it!
Of course, my life here in England wasn’t just a tick on a bucket list (which I don’t have anyways). Instead it has become the chapter of my life that will forever define the rest of it. I had a great time living in Newcastle where I made long-lasting friendships with other students. Whilst living in Newcastle, we shared the ups and downs of doing a PhD, we explored Northumberland on many walks and at the end we celebrated each others graduations. I have very fond memories of that time, not least because it’s where I met my now husband. As he is British, I will always have a special connection to the UK and will surely come back to visit.
For us, things changed when Jack and I left Newcastle to establish a life post-PhD, which mainly meant finding a job. But not only, it also meant finding jobs in the same area. Something we have not managed to achieve in the last three years – I’ve been working near Bournemouth and Jack in Oxford. We chose Winchester as the place to live as it is between the two and has a train station.
However, things were not ideal. We ended up with long commutes, little spare time for life during the week and few prospects for change. We got stuck in a rut of routine. This is when we began to wonder what, or rather where next?
Nothing ever changes if nothing ever changes
I’m aware that we tend to want what we don’t have, but I also believe it’s important to listen to your gut feeling. And my gut feeling said that I wasn’t happy with our long commutes, but escaping our routines wasn’t easy.
My desire for change found it’s expression in Eco Zeena. It allowed me to turn my passion into a profession and gave me the flexibility I desperately needed. I started doing markets in Winchester, Newbury and at various events. And I loved it! It was hard work and took up a lot of my time, but I enjoyed sharing my passion for sustainable living with other people.
We had been making plans to leave Winchester to move closer to Jack’s job in Oxford, but then the next reality hit us: where can we afford to live? We had to cross out quite a few places on the map.
Living in Germany was something we had talked about and liked the idea of, but could only be realised if one of us found a job there. Luckily, Jack managed to do that in the end. We are excited about going there and starting a new life in my home country. It’s the push we needed for things to change.
My hope for the future
There certainly will be things I miss from England, such as pubs and footpath that crisscross the countryside. I will miss Winchester, the city we have made our home, and I will miss going to the markets. I’m taking the time to say goodbye to my life here, ready to start the next chapter in Germany.
As we establish our new life in Germany I hope to make it more sustainable. I have already looked at local zero waste shops and organic supermarkets. I’m also exited about going to the bakery again to buy fresh bread and rolls every day. Many people cycle in German cities and so I will definitely dust off my bike to reduce my reliance on a car and move towards my long-term aim of living car-free. Another of my long-term goals is also to move into, or even build, an eco-friendly house.
What will happen to Eco Zeena?
I’ll take Eco Zeena with me, but I don’t know yet what shape it will take in Germany. I might go to markets or events or I might just reopen a shop online, opening doors for sending German products to the UK. I’m not sure yet and all I’m doing is speculating. My long-term goals of sustainability give me a direction, but I’ll leave some room for flexibility on how I’ll get there. By following me on social media and my blog posts, you can keep updated with my journey. I hope to see many of you again on the way!