Moving abroad as an autistic person

Maybe some of you already know, that I’m German and that I moved to Denmark around six years ago. But I never told the whole story about moving abroad. In this blog post, I want to tell you a bit about why I moved, how it was and why I never went back to Germany.

After high school
During the last months of high school all my friends started to plan, what they wanted to do when they finished their exams. Some wanted to go abroad, others wanted to study at university. Most of them just knew what they wanted to do next. I had no idea what to do myself though. I knew, that I did want to study at some point, but I didn’t know at all, what area I could be interested in at all. I also considered going abroad, but I hadn’t planned anything at that time. The only thing I did know for sure, was that I wanted to travel through parts of Europe with my best friend after graduation. We also travelled through the Scandinavian countries during that trip.

The hostel in Norway
When we came to Norway, we stayed at a hostel, that was a højskole besides summer periods. We understood that it was some kind of school. And it seemed like a boarding school, but the students on the pictures seemed way too old to be students at a boarding school. So, we were a bit confused. More about those schools later though…

After our travel
When we came back from our travel, my mom started to ask, what I wanted to do now that I had graduated from high school. So, I started to google. I looked at all the different possibilities for going abroad. There was work and travel, volunteer camps, au pair work. It all didn’t seem right for me. But then I thought about going to Scandinavia and suddenly I read something about those højskoler. That made me curious.

Højskole – what is it?
So, I found out that a højskole is called folk high school in English. In Scandinavian countries young people go to those schools when they don’t know what to do with the rest of their lives. They might have just finished high school and don’t know what to do next. It just sounded perfect to me, because I definitely didn’t know what to do with the rest of my life. I googled everything about those folk high schools, that I could find, and I was so excited. I remember visiting my friend and telling her about folk high schools. I said something like this: There are those schools in Scandinavia, that are meant to help you with finding out what to do with your life. Doesn’t that sound great? I think she was a bit confused. I couldn’t really explain it in a better way.

My stay abroad
Everything happened quite fast. I read everything I could find about the different schools, wrote to them and in august I made the decision that I wanted to go to a Danish folk high school for half a year. I still remember, that I told my family about it on my birthday in the end of august. My mom obviously already knew about it, because we lived together so she actually gave me a book as a present, that I could learn danish with.

Moving abroad
I left Germany in January of 2014. I took the night train from Munich to Hamburg and then I changed to a different train to go to Denmark. In the night train I was fine. I was quite excited, actually. But when I took the second train, everything was totally different. I was suddenly so sad. I was really close to burst into tears and thought all the time: “Why am I actually doing this? I just want to go home again and be with my family and my friends!”.

Moving abroad as an autistic person
When I moved to Denmark, I didn’t know that I was autistic. I first got my autism diagnosis years later. Probably I wouldn’t have moved, if I had known about my diagnosis prior to moving. But I think, what definitely helped me with moving, was that I went to a school, where there was a lot of structure. I had to adjust at first and I was crying a lot in the beginning, but when I got used to my new life, the school actually made me feel quite secure.

How did it continue?
You probably remember: My plan was to stay at the folk high school for half a year. After that semester, I decided to stay another semester. And after those 12 months in total, I wanted to work as an au-pair. It didn’t work out very well, but that’s a whole different story. Anyway, I decided to stay in Denmark.

Why didn’t I return to Germany?
I think, I never returned to Germany, because I got used to living in Denmark. I was 19, when I moved, so I don’t really have a lot of experiences with being an adult in Germany. However, I learned lots of things about being an adult in Denmark. And the more I learnt, the greater the distance to Germany became. And now, things are different anyway. I am engaged to a Danish guy and we’re going to get married next year, so it’s not all about where I want to live anymore, but more where we both want to live.

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