Update (6 March 2022):
Despite a general gloom blanketing Europe, everyday life continues. All eyes are to the east and wondering what tomorrow could bring.
Rewind to early last week:
One big component of my move to Germany was to better understand refugee and immigration programs, and how they compare to other countries including the United States. I have had opportunities to speak with both immigrants and German officials involved in the resettlement and immigration process. It has been eye opening, and along with quantitative data, I have been able to paint a comprehensive picture of how immigrants have shaped community development in Germany. Now, as a geographer studying human migration in Europe, my research came to a screeching halt when war broke out only a few hundred miles away…
Today, things have changed:
My research began kindled by my own immigrant family and community experience. Now an uncontrollable fire, it grows daily, fueled by gasoline and gunpowder. Naturally, my original project scope has grown to make way for current events.
I have chosen not to renew my apartment’s lease here in Germany. This was actually a decision I made prior to the war, as I knew I wanted to follow the route many immigrants take entering Europe through Italy, Turkey, and the Balkans. Now that I have my residence established here in Germany, I am free to pack up my little green car and make the journey to southeastern Europe. Once again, this was the original plan. I would divide my time between Romania and Croatia, studying community development and immigrant settlement in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the refugee situation is not what it once was, and we have been finding ourselves scrambling.
With still some business here in Germany and final preparations to make, I plan to road trip down to the Balkans in a couple weeks. Though things are getting worse everyday, I am maintaining patience. Fuel prices have skyrocketed and basic essentials including food and housing are starting to see a big hit. I have contacts in both Romania and Croatia, but no one can predict what will happen. I am grateful for the support of my family, supervisors, and even the US State Department who has been feeding me updates.
Even with all the uncertainty and anxiety, I plan on enjoying my road trip southeast. For my own sanity, I must balance work and mental health. Along with my obligations, I plan on hiking and mountain biking, and finding time to clear my mind. I promise to update when I can; let’s hope for mostly castles, national parks, and other positive experiences.