Almost 3 years ago, we made the decision to pack up our life in the US and move our little family to Germany. I had never been out of North America and we wanted to give our son the experience of living in a different culture. We knew it would be hard to leave family and friends but we weren’t prepared for the toll it would take on Monkey whenever we had to say goodbye after video chatting or having someone visit. It seemed to take forever to feel like we “fit in” and then all of a sudden, time flew. Now it’s almost time to leave and return back to our life in the States. During our time here, I’ve grown a lot and learned so much about myself.
I can interact without speaking the language. I am so proud of myself to have stepped out of my comfort zone and live somewhere that I knew very little about. I remember the first time I went to the grocery store without my husband. Not every grocery store accepts credit cards and I didn’t have any cash. There were no Visa/Master Card logos on the doors (but there never are) so unless you ask, if you speak the language, you won’t find out until you go to pay. I found all the food I needed, got into the checkout line and was shaking like a leaf. The man who was scanning my items spoke a few sentences to me, nothing which I understood, and so I just smiled. I gave him my credit card and he looked at it with wonder. German credit cards all have chips and mine didn’t. My heart stopped. He figured out it need to be swiped and on he went. The transaction went through and I lived. I think it took moments like this for me to realize that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we didn’t understand each other or if I had to put my food back because they didn’t accept my payment.
I can drive anywhere. Well maybe. I still haven’t driven on the left side of the road. I’ll get back to you when I have that under my belt. But for now, I’ve survived the autobahn and have driven on crazy busy city streets like those in Paris or windy roads with tight hairpin turns over a cliff like in Mallorca, Spain. To be honest, the autobahn is just another fancy word for interstate only most parts don’t have a speed limit. It was more nerve wracking knowing I had to drive on it then actually doing it. My parking skills have been tried and my maneuverability, tested and I still haven’t put a scratch on the car. I think I’ve found a new confidence!
Have an insane desire to DIY. When we bought our house almost 6 years ago, I thought I was going through a “new homeowner” phase. We installed hardwoods, cabinets, backsplash, tiled the master bath and added crown moulding to almost every room, all on our own. We had more on our list but ran out of time before our move to Germany where we decided to rent a home. Although I was sad that the improvements on our home would end, I was happy to have a nice 3 year break on hard labor. I found myself getting restless and tried my hand at knitting, baking, playing with fondant and after receiving a sewing machine for Christmas, I went to town on making clothes (something I had never done before). The first few attempts were quite sad and wouldn’t hold up past the first wash…actually they never even made it on bodies but I’ve learned a lot and now I’ve worked myself up to sewing a swim suit for my daughter. Stay tuned!
I love being outdoors! Europeans are known for spending a considerable amount of time outside. As the saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Now, I won’t take my kids outside in the cold for a long time if they’re sick (which unfortunately seems like the entire winter in Germany) but we’ve been known to bundle up and walk a mile to go get some dinner. The Germans also love to eat outside. Ever heard of a bier garten? This is amazing. I know many restaurants in the States have a “Al fresco” option but the Germans have heaters and blankets and encourage their patrons to dine outside throughout the year and we definitely have! I always knew that I loved the outdoors but living here helped me realize that all weather is wonderful. Future neighbors, please don’t judge me as I eat my dinner on my deck under the falling snow.
I love my country. Don’t get me wrong, Germany is absolutely wonderful. I’ve loved living here and am going to miss this country and all it has to offer, immensely after I leave. But to quote Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home.” I miss Americanized Chinese food, pay-at-the-pump gas stations, stores being open on Sundays, drive through Starbucks (or anything, really), Dunkin’ Donuts, Air Conditioning, ice in my drinks and of course my family and friends. Living overseas has allowed to me visit places I had only dreamed of, meet people that I never thought I would and shaped me in ways I could never imagine but I’m more than happy to return home.