March Madness regarding Moving
Back in the late 1970s when basketball was predominantly a men’s sport, sports columnist Brent Musberger coined the terminology March Madness, which pertained to the NCAA college basketball tournament that took place every year in March. 64 teams took part in the no-holds barred basketball tournament where the men were separated from the boys, where most college basketball coaches compete to see who can grow grays in their hair the most and the quickest and who can see who can retain their voices before winning the basketball title. Over time, the women joined the fray with their own tournaments and the result is as many as 200 million viewers in the USA and abroad watching at least one basketball tournament in its entirety and betting for their own team to win it all, in both the men’s bracket as well as the women’s.
We do have another form of March Madness in Germany, but not in the form of basketball or any sports for that matter. It is with the moving. Normally in Germany, the majority of the population is not inclined to move much. If one is born in a region, it is expected that the person stays in that region for life because of friends, family and permanent employment (which is hard to find nowadays). While that trend is leaning towards the American attitude of moving, which is “Mobility and Flexibility is Everything,” that is mostly for people in their early 20s and 30s, who are single or have a partner and have nothing that could anchor them in one particular location. This is because when one gets older, one settles down and takes whatever is offered to them and is thankful for the job. But when the move takes place, it is more hassle than it is worth in the short term. In the long term however, it was worth every cent if one stays in one spot for a long time.
If there is one month where most of the moving takes place in my experiences as an expatriate living in Germany, it is in March. Why? It is during the time where the need for greener pastures, more space and a new beginning in one’s life converge into one. It may be because of new job opportunities or the need of a new place in general. It may be because the summer time is solely kept free for vacationing in various places in Europe or North America (for example). For students, it is because the winter semester is much shorter than the summer semester. There is an average of 1-2 months free during the winter break and 3-4 during the summer break. While there is no spring break at German Universities, where students go to exotic places for booze and babes, like many American students often do, many German students take advantage of the free time in March to move to a new location.
Even now as I write this, many streets in the cities are partially corralled off to make way for the movers to arrive with ladders to bring down and load the furniture and other belongings from the top floor of a five-story apartment into the vans to be relocated to another destination. Much of the furniture has to be disassembled before loading and reassembled in the new apartment. One has clutter to sort through and throw out, as well as books to pack in boxes seven layers high- high enough to reach the ceiling. When there is a child in the midst, one has to try and keep him/her occupied and out of trouble. And often if there is no help, then you are on your own and it becomes even more difficult to get things done especially because of a tight work schedule you have to deal with , resulting in packing until the wee hours of the morning every day. And at last when all of the belongings are in the new apartment , one has to please the tenants of the old apartment by tearing down the wall paper, re-wallpapering the rooms and making it spic and span. Many people mop the floors before the movers arrive, which does not make any sense because they would be trampled on anyway and is therefore considered a waste of time.
But when all this is done, during the madness of March, it is no wonder why many people just simply stay put and take whatever job may be available to them but does not fit to their own career portfolio. It is a big difference whether a person travels light with as little as possible just to chase after their careers in places like Buxtehude, Stuttgart, Passau, Rostock, Weimar, Dresden,….. or if a person decides to ditch his career and does something different in order to create a permanent home- a nest where the children can grow up and graduate from school in one city and where one can do his/her time at a company or agency for 35 years until retiring with a nice juicy pension to live from. The move may be a lot of hassle, but we have our purposes for a bigger and nicer home, which in the end, after spending tens of thousands of dollars and Euros in expenditures for renovation, new furniture and moving, it will definitely pay off and we can live happily ever after.