Funnily enough Sympra’s 20th anniversary actually coincides with one of my own: 20 years ago I came over to Stuttgart. I didn’t know how long I was going to stay; I just knew that I wanted to be here rather than in England for a while. The political situation for graduates at the time wasn’t a happy one: Thatcher had just been toppled from power, the political scene unstable and, more importantly for me, graduates were on a starting pay of about 7,000 pounds a year. After graduating in political science and German studies I was faced with two possible options: Going home to live with my parents and start trawling job pages or come out to Germany and improve my German language skills. An absolute no-brainer! If university had taught me one thing, it was that I couldn’t wait to get out there and really start living! In hindsight, this is of course, quite ironic, nowadays I look back after 20 years of working life and think, I could have actually stayed in the cotton wool of education and begun “my adventure“ a lot later;)
In October 1992, I arrived in Stuttgart with one heavily packed suitcase and a variety of travel bags that my Dan Air baggage allowance had given me. I was going to start working in a well-known language school in Ludwigsburg until I could get myself into my dream job (what that was I had no idea. The only thing I knew was that only I could do this job and it was out there waiting for me and me alone). With a flat in the trendy and central west of Stuttgart, the world was my oyster. My flatmate was a Japanese opera singer and I quickly found friends in bars (L’Aleph), clubs (Buddha and Nachtwerk) and cafes (Marche). Out we went every night and every weekend and the only thing I really had to worry about was making it to the supermarket on Saturday mornings before the ridiculously early closing time of 12.00 – a pretty mean feat when you’ve had about 4 hours sleep! I was having the time of my life…and thoughts about my dream job were slipping further and further away. When I wasn’t teaching and partying, I was writing. I can truly say that writing has always been my real passion in life. This has always been my constant and has helped me through some challenging times. I’ve always been much happier with a pen (and now laptop) at the ready and somewhere in the back of my mind, I have always known I would be doing myself a pretty big favour if I could get paid for doing something that I wasn’t really that bad at.
20 years is a long time. It is a generation. And to be pretty honest, I don’t really know how I got here. I was a very young adult when I arrived in Stuttgart. We graduate very early in the UK and somewhere along the way I found my way into writing professionally: Firstly by developing my own language programme for the school, then working as a technical editor for a magazine in Hamburg. The path was a bumpy yet adventurous one (isn’t it always?) but here I am working more than I am partying nowadays but definitely looking back at 20 short years in the land of the Swabians!
Bild: room101 / pixelio.de