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BEHIND THE LENS—A Tale of Two Homes

Moving to a new city or town is challenging. Saying goodbye to your home, friends and family for a new concept of “home” is equally exciting and terrifying. But moving to a new country is a whole other level, especially when you are young.

Style Guru, Eva Thomas, moved from Southern Germany to the heart of Midwest, Minnesota, when she was five years old. And even though she seemed to live two separate lives (an American school life and German home life), these two have combined to create a singular (and super fascinating) “Eva.”

Read below as Eva explains how her tale of two homes has shaped the person she is today!

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Icebreakers are the common protocol for the first day of classes, and the question that is usually (always) asked is, “What’s a fun fact about your self?” My response has always been, “I was born in Germany,” because it speaks volumes about my life story and who I am today.

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I was born in Southern Germany and moved to Minnesota when I was five years old. Though I was still young and just starting my life in terms of schooling and building solid friendships, it was heartbreaking to leave my family and all that I had grown up with behind for a place I had only seen in pictures and in television shows. I didn’t know what was awaiting me in the United States. I had only seen a few pictures my grandma had shown me (and everything looked HUGE), and at that point in time, I could speak only a few words in English.

It was quite terrifying, and I remember the exact day the moving truck came. Waving bye to my grandparents, aunts and uncles, we drove off to the airport and soon I boarded the plane with my mom, dad and sister.

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I learned English rather quickly thanks to computer games, television shows and books while also continuing to learn German. But soon there was a clear division between my two “lives.” At school, I could only speak English and when I got back home, I only spoke German. But this became a routine, and I eventually adjusted to the constant change.

But back to the icebreaker—an icebreaker is all about initiating conversation and getting to know people. Whenever people hear my fun fact, an outpouring of questions follows.

“Why did you move here?” What’s your home?” Do you dream in English or German?” “Do you count in English or German?” “What do you miss the most?”

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The only two questions I can really answer with 100 percent certainty are the first two. My family decided to move to the states for a new experience. And I don’t have one home, I have two. I feel at home in both Germany and in Minnesota, and I feel so lucky that I have created a home for myself in two places, over 4,000 miles apart.

As for dreams, counting and what I miss the most, it always changes. I find myself thinking in English one second and counting in German the next. And it’s always going to be like that. I don’t think one will ever be the dominant one, though I spend 80 percent of my time in an English environment.

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I wouldn’t change anything about how my childhood played out. Learning a new language at such a young age instilled a sense of appreciation for different cultures within me. I take on any challenge with the most optimistic of attitudes. I know that changes are a part of life, and with the right attitude, every change, big or small, will lead to something great.