This month as I’m working on the kids’ interview I thought that this month I would add one from me.
We’ve been living in Germany for over a month now. What do you think of living here?
During the first few weeks I really could feel the difference between European and American culture. I doubted myself at every turn. Now, I am falling in love with Germany and it’s going to be very hard to go back to the U.S.
What’s been the east thing about living in Germany? The most difficult thing?
It’s all about adjusting. Life in Europe is just different.
Laundry: As the weeks have gone by the difficult things feel less and less hard. At first the laundry situation had me all upset. I was worried about having to share two washers and two dryers with 23 other apartments. I was concerned about having to pay for the laundry. Germans tend to hang all their clothes to dry. The kids hated the feel of hanged dried clothing. Since then they made the laundry FREE! I dry about 1/2 the clothes. Jeans and most pants, sheets, underwear, I dry. Everything else I hang. I can actually get the laundry finished pretty quickly using both machines. I try to do laundry two days a week during non-peak times. For example anytime during the weekend is a bad time to try and do laundry.
Feeding a family of seven: This maybe still the most difficult thing for me. Our fridge is very small like a dorm fridge and we have very little space for food storage. Since we don’t have a car we also have to be careful how much food we buy when we go grocery shopping. We have to carry everything back. This can be definitely limiting. Also nearly all stores are closed on Sundays and major holidays.
I go shopping two to three times a week. I hit the regular grocery stores and the markets. I meal plan so that every meal is thought of and ingredients purchased. So that we are prepared, especially for Sundays. We’re lucky enough to live in a big enough city where the train station has basically a mall in it with two grocery stores. In Germany, stores in train stations are exempt from the ‘all stores closed on Sundays’ law. It’s been helpful although it’s crazy busy.
Getting around: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE not owning a vehicle. I love not having a car payment, having to pay for car insurance, or car maintenance. I love walking outside and jumping on a tram to just about anywhere in the city. The trams/trains/buses are punctual and clean. If we need to go further we just grab a train and head out. For example yesterday we went to Meissen (more to come on Meissen later). It cost us $27 dollars total. It was an easy trip. I know this won’t be possible when we get back, but it’s definitely a perk here.
In all it’s about adjusting. If we weren’t living in university housing we would have a slightly bigger fridge and more storage space. We would probably own a car and several bikes.
Smaller Apartment: We live in an apartment complex with people from all over the world that work with the University of Leipzig in various departments and in various positions. This creates an amazing dynamic of community. We have two apartments because we are just to big for one. It’s working out great. There is plenty of room for everything and everyone. We have space for guests. It’s smaller, but it’s easy to clean and we have less stuff. So it’s a win for me at least.
How are German language classes going?
I’m in the process of enrolling in classes at Zu Hause E.V. (Association for the Social Integration of Immigrants). I’ve put it off till October because we had such trouble finding Little J a kindergarten. We found one and he starts Monday. He will be slowly integrated into the class over the next two weeks.
I’m starting my German course at the B2 level. There are six different levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. Each level is a level of fluency. You have to take a test at the end of each level. When I enrolled I took a test to place me. I actually placed high, but I wanted to take more hours. It’s been years since I have taken a formal German class and I welcome the refresher. I will have about 300 hours of course work to do before I can take my last German fluency test. German companies that are hiring love to see these tests.
What’s been your favorite food so far?
All the food is good. I had a particularly delicious piece of Apfelkuchen today. I found a place that serves Indian food for super cheap and an Asian place with delicious fried rice and egg rolls. Donor is probably my favorite. So good. I may need to go get some tomorrow.
What are you excited about getting to do or try in the next month? Are you going on any trips?
I’m excited about Little J starting kindergarten. I’m hoping to get back to running and working out. I’m really excited about getting back to language classes. I’ve applied for a part-time position as an English translator. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Leipzig and hopefully getting to plan a big trip somewhere during October break.