(CNN) — Eric Barry has been riding a seemingly never-ending wave of uncertainty in his life over the past year. The 35-year-old writer and podcast host, originally from California’s Bay Area, was researching a novel in Ecuador when the global pandemic erupted in March 2020. Over the next 12 months, as Barry tried to establish his new home base in Berlin, where he’s studying for a master’s degree, he faced challenge after challenge:
an apartment that fell through in Berlin’s notoriously difficult rental market; trying to track down a German residence permit likely mailed to his former address; and navigating an unfamiliar healthcare system in which he has no idea when he’ll be vaccinated.
Now, Barry is headed back to the United States for something he does have control over, getting his Covid-19 shot shortly. Hearing a fellow expat’s plans a few weeks ago to travel to the US for her own vaccination “planted a seed,” he says. And then on a
Facebook group I started seeing wave after wave of Americans that were all traveling back, and I thought, maybe this is something I want to do,” Barry says while waiting in a Starbucks before the first of a three-flight, 30-plus-hour journey to California, where he plans to stay with his already-vaccinated mom. I never thought that, as I was leaving the United States for
Germany, with this promise of a life with a better healthcare system, less than a year later, I’d be traveling back to the US for healthcare. That seems to be a growing sentiment among Americans living overseas — especially those in Europe frustrated by a vaccine rollout that the World Health Organization slammed in a recent report as “unacceptably slow. Just 10% of Europe’s population has received the first shot in a two-dose regimen, and many countries, including Germany and France, are in strict lockdown.