One year! We made it! Alive, and everything!
Moving to a brand new continent, in a different hemisphere, where you know no one, is not exactly like a party. But we did it! TAKE THAT ADVERSITY!
This year went by so fast. I feel like we just got here. I feel like I just had Ava, two seconds ago. I feel like we are just now getting used to everything. But as the great Karen Carpenter would say: we've only just begun.
I feel like now, after a year of being embarrassed by unknowingly breaking cultural norms, speaking the language incorrectly, making snap judgements and stereotyping, (I love to stereotype), I can speak with some authority on the following:
It's auto-awesome. When we first got here, I said it was no big deal (because we were traveling from the airport in a charter bus, safely at 70 mph.). Then after our first solo driving quest to IKEA, I said it was terrifying. Well friends, I'm back to change my mind again. It's great. Sure, we cruise between 90-110 mph; but so does everyone else! Some people go a whole lot faster. Honestly, it would be dangerous to go slower--you must keep up with the flow of traffic.
Sidenote: "Autobahn" is simply German for "highway." It's not a special road, or anything like that.
2. Luxury vehicles
There's not a lot to say about this. Most people drive a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. Except for us...Additionally, German mommies drive Luxury strollers. I'm not kidding here. I did a little research. Mostly because I was getting curious as to why all the strollers I saw around me, made my stroller look like a Lego toy. Let's just say, the cheaper model starts closer to $700.00. I have yet to see a someone with a different stroller; a non-luxury stroller...except for me.
Recycling is responsible. Recycling is necessary. It is disgusting how much we waste.
I hate recycling. I hate recycling so much, that I have actually turned down a purchase because I didn't want to have to deal with the recycling: "This is perfect! But look at the box it comes in....ugh...all the parts are in plastic wrap....are those plastic twist ties? Forget it."
I do it because we have to. BUT--I will probably continue to do it when we return to the states. Because it's easy. America is spoiled like a pretty blonde girl when it comes to our recycling. Some nice man comes to pick up a container from your curb, once a week. Not here people. You take your own recycling to the recycling yard. You also must sort your recycling like so:
Aluminum: This must be sorted into foil and cans.
Glass: must be sorted into white, brown, and green.
Paper: must be sorted from cardboard, and regular paper.
Plastic: (This ones a doozy) sorted as follows: soft plastic, hard plastic, plastic lids, plastic cups, plastic bottles, "other" plastic, styrofoam, and styrofoam pieces.
I won't even get into the recycling of electronics, or household goods, or batteries.
Don't sort it wrong! There are German attendants working the bins to scold you...and they will scold you.
Additionally the recycling center has pretty limited hours. It's open a few days a week, for about three hours. So, all the stars must align for us to successfully get over to the recycling center.
And it's not like I can just throw things away in my dumpster. My dumpster is actually SMALLER than my kitchen trash can. The dumpster is taken away by the garbage man TWICE a month. So, I usually spend a lot of time getting creative with left over food. I weigh the pros and cons of throwing an item away. I stand on top of the trash in the dumpster to "smush" it down--to get more space. It's endless people. Anytime I have to use garbage space unexpectedly, I usually throw a little pity party for myself.
4."Kaffee und Kuchen"
Coffee and cake. It's everywhere. Usually enjoyed at a cute bistro table in the afternoon in home, cafes, inside grocery stores, I've even seen some at gas stations. One time I took Ava to the eye doctor, and inside the waiting room was "kaffee und kuchen." The German culture is very leisurely. In fact, if we were going to assign each country a personality, Germany would be the "party country." Beer, bread, brats, and good times! Good times to be had by all.
5. Dark Clothing and "Wilderness Chic"
I am the only person I have seen here who has a red coat. I stand out in a crowd, (hopefully only because of the coat). Also, everyone seems to be wearing Jack Wolfskin coats. Picture the Northface revolution; only on a larger, and more expensive scale. And, clearly I need to feel like I belong--so I want one.
|Hans Martin and Gerlinde Schertl---and you're familiar with Ava.|
This year God has given us a lot of blessings to be thankful for. We've made great friends, including the Schertl's, our German family, who have welcomed us so warmly into their home, and have shared so much with us. Steven came home safely from Afghanistan, (you're welcome America!) and we have a beautiful home, in an even more beautiful country...
OH! And we had a baby!
Last year we arrived in Germany the day before Thanksgiving. We made it to Frankfurt airport, and then took a bus three hours to the Rose Barracks--the military base in Vilseck. We were put in a perfectly nice hotel on base. Where we watched hilariously sub-standard military television. The DFAC (Dining FACility) on base, was hosting a Thanksgiving meal the next day. For some reason, I was really excited. I was still feeling really positive, and I don't think the new situation had truly dawned on me yet. On Thanksgiving day we slept in till 2:00 p.m. (thanks a lot, jet lag). Around 4:00 p.m. we walked--in the snow--from our hotel, to the DFAC for Thanksgiving dinner.
When we got there...
it was closed.
I started crying, (classic). The way you would cry if you had just missed Thanksgiving dinner, (and if you were seven months pregnant).
This year will be different. We'll have a full house to serve dry turkey, and over cooked casseroles to!
I am thankful that now, instead of crying over legitimately scary life changes and concerns; I can now cry over the little, trivial, superficial, everyday kind of things. :)
So I've got that going for me, which is nice.