it's hard to believe that we have been in germany for an entire year. the time went quickly and was filled with many ups and only a few downs.
i can say, without a doubt, that i love germany. there is so much i love about living here. from the amazing parks, to the amazing pools, to the way germans , generally, are so honest. everything beautiful and clean and old.
there have been some not so great things too-staus (traffic jams), neverending construction and a language barrier have proven to be worthy adversaries at times, but we are getting over the language thing and i can actually pretend for a minute that i know what i am talking about.
i think the homesickness was relatively low and mostly i felt sad for bella more than for myself. but we have all acclimated wonderfully and there are times where i feel like i could stay here forever (don't worry mom and dad, the government won't let us do that!).
things have changed quite a bit for us too! we have added little cora to our brood, bella has become quite the amazing big girl, and i think joel and i have become stronger than ever before. there is something about being completely isolated from all things familiar that will beat you down and build you back up like no other experience. we both love new and different experiences and moving here has definitely fit that bill!
some highlights of our time so far:
- having cora! birthing in germany is so different from back home, and i am so glad i had the experience. i did things that i never thought possible and survived! (yes, i realize women have been having babies since the dawn of time with no pain killers, but i never thought i would be one of them.). it was a pretty incredible experience that, while painful, i would do again. maybe a little differently (note to mothers birthing in germany: just say no to the little white pill.....), but not much.
- fests! germany sure knowns how to celebrate stuff. and they celebrate ANYTHING. pumpkins, strawberries, apples, sand, beer, wine, beer, beer.....did i say beer? they sure love their beer here, and often times, it's cheaper than water. so, be frugal and have a beer!
- food! i never thought my pallet was that adventurous, but i am starting to realize that i do not discriminate against food in the slightest. i love all types of food. in hawaii, i really enjoyed filipino food (and i still do!) in georgia, i got on a bbq kick (because how can you not!?) and here i feel like i could eat schnitzel and brats until my eye balls fall out. and don't even get me started on their potato salad (kartoffelsalat). or that homemade garlic sour cream stuff (knoblauchsauce) they put on their fries. mmmm. our and the joghurt dressing!? i die. maybew this is why i have had a little trouble shedding those baby pounds....that i gained AFTER i had cora.....yikes....
- snow! after living the last 8 years in warm climates, the winter here was a welcomed experience. we had one of the coldest, longest winters in the area, and we loved it. i'm sure many of the people here would shoot daggers from their eyes at me because of this statement. so be it. WE LOVE THE COLD!
- they are actually pretty fantastic drivers. people let people in, they merge like a zipper (how it should be done) the pass on the left and slow people (generally) get to the right. even though traffic is a nightmare, they seem to figure it out and it definitely could be worse considering 3 lanes of traffic go down to one.
- they are very honest people. this is a general statement based on my experience, and i could be off base, but things are very different here than i am used to. people kind of self regulate to an extent, and it works. there is just kind of the belief that people will do the right thing, though i am having a hard time coming up with a good example. it's in little things, like public transportation, where, if you were a seedy person, you could get away with not paying for it, but people follow the rules and do what they should. granted, if you get caught, there are hefty fines, but we have been riding for a year and have never been asked to show proof that we bought tickets, or have traveled in the appropriate zones.
- most speak at a minimum 2 languages. not all. especially the older crown. but many people speak at a very minimum german and english. and they speak english as though it were their first language (though they will tell you they don't speak it well. and they will say well, not 'good'. which is better grammar than most americans use!). many people speak even more languages. i've met plenty of people who speak, at least in part, 4 languages.
but not everything is perfect
- they cut lines like nobodies business. if you aren't pushing up against the person in front of you, or if you look distracted, they assume you aren't in line and will cut in front of you. to that note, if you are in line, forget personal space. the person behind you will be breathing down your neck. it is very intimate. and not in a good way.
- especially since they often don't wear deodorant. holy sweat glands, people have a tendency to stink. which is only exacerbated by the fact that.....
- ....they like to bundle up. even in 80 degree weather. in may, we hit 70's and there were people wearing heavy coats, scarves and hats, babies in bunting sacks and the little old ladies would consistently stop me and scold me for not bundling my babies. 70's in my world means i am in a bathing suit.
- speaking of older ladies, they like to scold you for just about anything and will not hold back. granted, i have no clue what they are saying, but it's generally along the lines of, "put a hat (or coat, shoes, gloves, etc.) on that baby!" one lady even told joel he needed to support cora's head more when we were sitting at a table. she was 4 months old and sitting up by herself. but clearly, she looked like she needed some more support.....
- do not order something to-go, then change your mind and sit down. they will run you off. even in a hospital, the day after you have given birth. in many places, you pay extra to sit, and so ordering to-go and sitting is a no-no.
we have been to some pretty cool places so far, and have only been slowed down because we had a baby and had to wait for her passport, then joel went TDY for 9 weeks, so we have only just been able to leave the country.
- lots of cities in germany: rothenburg, heidelburg, triberg, munich, and all kinds of little villages along the way. legoland, pools that are more like waterparks and tons of fests all over the place.
- switzerland: rhine falls and konstanz
- france: strasbourg
our bucket list is long and lengthening, and later this year we have trips to london, scotland, rome and paris planned.
all in all, it has been a crazy year! not every minute was easy-joel's 9 week TDY, for instance, was challenging to say the least. but every bit of it has been an amazing adventure.
i can't wait to see what our second year in germany brings!