Welcome to My Life! 😉
My name is Anja (pronounced "Anya") and this is me, grabbing some random statue's buttocks in Italy for no particular reason at all:
So much has happened since those carefree buttocks-touching days that has allowed me to become the woman writing today, so allow me to give you a glimpse of my life in fast-forward mode (Thank you, my dear editor, for making this sound so good!):
• July 5, 1990: Baby Anja is Born (aka “Wende-Kind”)
Raised in a suuuuper small village near Dresden, Germany when the Berlin wall falls, I am one of the first (happy?) children to eat bananas again after "die Wende" ("the turnaround" - German reunification).
• 2004: Doing an internship (aka That Time my First Dream was Crushed)
As a kid, I dream of becoming a veterinarian. Then I get to do an internship at a vet’s practice and I see the vet do a C-section on a standing cow. He cuts the cow open, takes the intestines out, cuts open the uterus, takes the baby cow out, puts the intestines back in, does stitches, and voila: I don’t want to be a vet anymore.
• 2007/2008: Exchange Year in the USA (aka “The Land of Unlimited (Im)Possibilities”)
In high school, I get a scholarship to participate in a foreign exchange program in Minnesota (I didn't get to choose the state). I am utterly surprised by the cold and the fact that American tampons look like giant spray guns (compared to our sensible European ones sans applicators). I go to high school like a good American girl, playing all the sports, doing all the homework (not), going to prom, and even earning student of the month.
• 2009: First Time Meditation (aka That One Time I Finally Stopped Talking - and Loved It)
Back in Germany, I take a meditation course called Vipassana for the first time. During the course, speaking, reading, and writing are all prohibited for the entire 10 days. My friends joke, "Anja, YOU of all people are pledging not to talk? Haha!" And I’m like
“Ja! Probieren geht über studieren!" (Translation: “Yes! The proof is in the pudding" or “Trying is better than studying”).
After the course, my tongue feels numb, but I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish - I learn to live in the moment and think more logically than ever before. Also, meditation definitely helps with my OCD and anxiety. During the meditation course, I also decide that it's finally time to come out to my friends and family.
• 2010: “Abitur” (aka Graduation, baby!)
What fond memories! From sleeping students to helpless teachers, and in the middle of it all, non-stop talking me. My form teacher is annoyed, but can't say much because my grades are among the top 5 of the class.
• 2010: University (aka The other Frankfurt)
I move to the "breathtaking" city of Frankfurt/Oder (not to be confused with Frankfurt/Main!) for a degree in "International Business Administration" at university. Although in Frankfurt it's "tote Hose" ("dead pants" a.k.a nothing much going on there), I love how international this university is.
• 2011: Exchange Semester in Mexico (aka Mi Mexico lindo)
During university, I decide to study abroad for a semester in Cuernavaca, Mexico to learn Spanish. This is my first time visiting a country with so much blatant poverty, and I realize that people who have less often give more. I immediately fall in love with my Mexico lindo; nothing beats the people, the culture, and the humor.
"Despacio que tengo prisa." ("Slowly, because I am in a hurry.")
• 2012-2013: Exchange Year in France (aka That time I ate snails)
I spend one year studying abroad for a double degree in Montpellier, Southern France. I quickly adjust to French life: binging cheese, wine, baguette and the occasional escargot. My French roommate, Julie, and my Peruvian roommate, Jorge, become my cute little international family. Julie speaks fluent English, but since I am there to learn French, I tell her to please only speak French to me and soon, French sentences start rolling off my tongue.
"Vouloir c'est pouvoir." ("To want is to be able".)
• August and September 2013: Quitting My Internship (aka The 60 Day Disaster)
I start an internship at an online publishing house and get so bored of my tasks that I actually consider hiring someone to get the job done for me. 2 months in to the 3 month program, I've had enough - the only "normal" job I've ever had, and I can't even last for more than 2 months! I start realizing that I am too much of a rebel to be happy working for someone else.
• 2014: One-way ticket to Thailand (aka That time I followed my intuition)
University complete! I finish my studies and buy a one way ticket to Thailand. I don't know anybody there and have no idea why I'm even going / don't even know why I am going there. My mom asks what I want to do there, and I answer "I don't know yet." My mom replies, "Find yourself!"
• 2014-2015: Traveling through South-East Asia (aka That time I got the Travel Bug)
I meet many ultra-interesting people on my trip through South-East Asia, including many digital nomads, people who work from their laptop while traveling the world. Intrigued by this idea, I pray to the universe to help me figure out how I can do the same.
I start an LGBTQ blog and write a book about homosexuality which 2 people buy: myself and my mom. I start a travel blog, but soon thereafter loose interest. However, I inherently know that there must be something out there for me.
• 2015: Going Broke (aka That Time I Actually Listened to My Mom)
6 months into my vacation in Thailand, I go broke. I vividly remember looking at my bank account and seeing about 200€ and thinking "Damn, I need to find a job". After applying for a few business jobs and being rejected (or not even getting a response), I decide to use what I know and start teaching English and German at Chiang Mai University and on italki.com.
That's the first time I actually listen to my mom and I actually find myself. I realize that I truly love teaching and finally feel like I’ve found my calling! Little did I know that being broke would be the one thing I actually needed to find what I truly love to do. Read more about my teaching/Youtube story here.
• November 2015: My Crazy Idea (aka That Time the Universe Answered)
One night while lying awake in bed, I have the crazy idea to upload videos on YouTube to help my students review what they learned in my German class. I love teaching in the classroom but soon realize its inefficiency. With videos, my students could review what they learned ANYTIME, from ANYWHERE, and as many times as they want...FOR FREE...while I could still make money from it. I become electrified. My intuition tells me this idea will change my life.
• December 2015: Creating My Youtube Channel (aka That Time I Made A Fool of Myself)
Just like that, my Youtube channel is born - hooray! I borrow a camera from my friend and upload the first video. That's the video I'm most embarrassed about, but guess what, as the saying goes:
"If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late".
I decide to call my channel "Learn German with Ania", spelled with an "i", because people tend to pronounce "Anja" every way but the right way.
• 2016: Growing My Channel (aka That Time I Started Making $500/month)
Back home from Thailand, I start uploading more videos every day and my Youtube channel grows more and more until I start making a few dollars from it. Hurrah! In April 2016, I make over $500 per month for the first time.
• June 2016: Making $1000 per Month Online (aka That Time I Became a Digital Nomad)
I reach my goal of making $1000 online ($355 from Patreon and $760 from Youtube). Turns out this whole "making money online" thing isn't a myth. It actually works.
• August 2016 - May 2018: Living in Australia (aka That time I Fell in love)
Out of the blue, I decide that I want to have lived on each continent for at least one year.
- Europe: Check √
- North America (USA and Mexico): Check √
- Asia (Thailand): Check √
Next, I decide to "tackle" Australia. And off I go once again buying a one-way ticket, this time to the land down under. I fall in love with a Brazilian girl who ends up becoming my first real girlfriend. We date, move in together like us lesbians typically do, and one year and a half later, we break up and I leave Australia.
At this point, my personal life is in ruins, but at least my professional life is working. I make about $4,000 per month from Youtube, Patreon, and my ebook combined, and my Youtube Channel keeps growing.
• June 2018: Going to Canada (aka That Time I Spoke Publicly for the First Time)
I get an invite to speak at LangFest in Canada. It is clear to me that if I just meet one person there who changes my life, it's all worth it. Off to Canada!
• August 2018: Meeting my future business partner (aka That time I made a non-Tinder match)
I go to LangFest, LOVE the community of polyglots, and enjoy speaking in front of people although I am super nervous. I meet Lukas van Vyve and a match in heaven is made. Lukas had already launched several successful courses, had an exciting language learning method (called “Chunking”), and had a German course ready to be sold. We realize that we are the perfect match: I have an audience who keeps asking me for a German course and Lukas has a course and knows about Marketing.
• October 2018: Publishing My Book on Amazon (aka That time I became legit)
I publish my first book on Amazon which becomes a bestseller in German language instruction.
• December 2018: Launching my first course (aka That time I made Big $$$)
Lukas and I launch our first course together and make $100,000 within a week! We do a few other launches together, and each time, it turns out to work just as well as the first one.
• December 2018-2020: Living My Wildest Dreams, Followed by My Worst Nightmares (aka The Truth will set me free)
From 2018 to 2019, I feel on top of the world. I go on NomadCruise and Remote Year, do some talks and Podcasts, and finally understand that I can achieve my wildest dreams (also the non-sexual ones). I come out on my Youtube Channel and receive lots of positive comments as well as some nasty hater comments.
By the end of my travels in 2019, my world begins to crumble. I feel overwhelmed with traveling and I become more and more depressed. Lukas and I call it an end. In 2020, I even consider giving up on my whole channel and business and run away from everything, as I constantly feel anxious, depressed, lonely, and overwhelmed. My business coach catches me in the free fall, and slowly, I start to put myself together again. I hire an operations manager which helps me immensely to stop doing things I dislike: Writing emails, writing job offers, managing people etc. My friends and I start a German LGBTQ Youtube Channel called "Homo Office".
• April 2021: Participating in the Dating Show "Princess Charming" (aka That time I experienced an #EPICFAIL)
My friends and I have this crazy idea to apply for a German lesbian reality show called "Princess Charming". I've never watched a reality show before in my life, so I am really new to this. Unexpectedly, I become a candidate and head off to Greece to live in a villa with 19 other lesbians and win the heart of the "Princess".
Soon, I realize that it's not for me: constantly surrounded by people and cameras, I am tense, overwhelmed, hardly eat and sleep, and think about leaving voluntarily. Turns out that the Princess is not fond of me anyways, so I am off of the show. For some reason, I love the idea that I have failed at something, it's somehow liberating and gives me a huge motivation boost.
Life is like a rainbow. You need both rain and sun to make its colors appear.
• May 2021: Starting this Blog (aka That Time I Get an Editor to Write All This)
Since my native language is German and not English, I reach out to my friend who I met during Remote Year to help me edit my blog. I can't wait to keep sharing my experiences with you guys. ☺️