The Half-Year Interview Series – C

Hello C. 

How are you today? Did you sleep well? 

Yes and Yes.

We’ve been living in Germany for five months now. We’ve officially passed the half way point. What has been the most surprising thing about living abroad? 

Just dealing with the language barrier. When I first came here I remember panicking a lot about the language and not being able to understand or worrying about being understood. I felt this, particularly in Rome, since none of us speak Italian. There were English speakers, but not everyone spoke English. I thought it would be harder and it wasn’t. You could still make yourself understood. You could still buy things and order food. It really isn’t that big of an issue.

What has been the most difficult things about living in Germany?

The most difficult thing for me is making friends. I find it difficult to make friends anyhow. But here it’s even harder because of the language. It’s hard to be a part of a conversation when you are just learning the language. I tend not to bother. I know this is more me than anyone else. I just have to work around it.

We just went through our first holiday in Germany. What was your favorite part? Your favorite gift? Your favorite experience? Thoughts on Germany during the holiday

Felt a lot like Christmas back home. I miss the Weihnachtsmarkt. It was really nice. I’m sad we don’t have them in the US. My favorite gift is my StarWars tshirt. It’s really soft and cool.

New Year Eve was very different. I hadn’t really heard about what happened here at midnight. I didn’t realize that they go all out and fireworks are everywhere. We had the TV on and were watching it happen in Cologne and fireworks everywhere as far as everyone could see. Then we realized it was just like that here in Leipzig. It was so loud with fireworks everywhere. I’m really surprised that the boys didn’t wake up.

You’ve been in school for four months now. How’s it going? Favorite subjects? Struggles? Accomplishments? 

My favorite subject is Chemistry at the moment.

I didn’t have Chemistry last year I had Biology. I don’t always understand, but the teacher speaks a little English and she goes out of her way and will print me out the worksheets in English. My last class was on Thursday and she was teaching us how to draw out chemicals. That was really cool. There are still some classes I don’t get at all. Mostly the ones with politics. Like Ethics and Government. And the German lit class. I usually read in those classes.

What’s are some new German words or phrases you’ve learned? How do you feel you are doing with the language?

I’m doing alright. There will be times where I sort of feel like I can understand everything and sometimes it’s the complete opposite. I definitely want to continue to build on my skills.  I’m thinking on going to college here so it’s important to me.

So we’ve purchased our tickets to head back home in June. How does that make you feel? Are you excited about our month in London? 

I’m excited to go home, but I’m also a little upset cause you are going to enroll me back into school for the last three weeks. I’m scared about what I am going to do. I am excited to go back.  The time difference has made it hard to keep in touch with my friends back home. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.

So five months into it …. and the question is, How has this experience changed you as a person and would you want to do it again? 

I definitely would want to do it again. Thinking about my future career I think I want to work as a translator as a grow up. I am considering going to a college here and then getting a job here. I really like Europe. I definitely want come back.  I’ve also been able to participate in a couple of the older classes.  They have been talking about America its been interesting to see another prespective on American government and laws.

The Winter Catch Up

It’s finally the cold, bleak midwinter. Gone is the fervor and the excitement of the holidays. Here in Leipzig we’re still working on returning to normal. It’s been a busy few months for us. I found a temporary holiday position at a company here in Leipzig and remember how hard juggling everything is. It takes a little more effort on everyones part to get all the things done. We managed, with a lot of help from PH’s mom who spent a month with us, to get all the things done.

Little Update on the Giving Warmth blog post. We raised about $600 and were able to buy a lot of great stuff. We hit up H&M on the right day and bought a ton of coats, shirts, sweaters, and pants. The girls had a lot of fun picking out little girl things. We don’t get to venture into that section much anymore.

Here’s a few photos from the Leipzig WeihnachtsMarkt. We ate so much delicious food and drink Glühwine and bought little trinkets. We were very sad when they broke it down.

IMG_2230

IMG_2095

IMG_2098

IMG_2105

IMG_2149

IMG_2157

IMG_2138

IMG_2143

 

 

 

The Half-Year Interview Series – RJ

Hello RJ, 

How are you doing today?

Good.

We’ve been living in Germany for five months now. We’ve officially reached the half way point. What has been the most surprising thing about living in Germany? 

At Christmas time there is no snow but then it really surprised me when there was two days of snow in January.

Most easiest and most difficult things about living in Germany?

Most difficult cause we have a small place to stay and that we have to go outside to run around and be crazy. Now we have a lot of toys so if I need something to do I have options.

We just went through our first holiday in Germany. What was your favorite part? Your favorite gift? 

I really enjoyed getting a giant PlayMobile castles. I don’t really have a lot of Playmobil. I love our BB-8.

At the Weihnachtsmarkt I really liked the giant Ferris Wheel and the doubledecker merry-go-round. I also like the HandBrot.

Thanksgiving was almost impossible to find a turkey. But Mom managed to find one just before Thanksgiving. I was glad she managed to do that. Because what is Thanksgiving without a turkey.

You’ve been in school for four months now. How’s it going? Favorite subjects? Struggles? Accomplishments? 

It’s fine for now. It’s getting harder. Sometimes I have to stop and listen to the teacher but mostly in Math I just shoot off by myself. I’m doing really well now that I know the language. I speak almost all in German. If I am not sure then I don’t say anything  although then it can be confusing.

Anything you want to share with us about your experience living abroad as a seven year old? 

So you shouldn’t get a driver license here because it’s very expensive and if you fail you have to pay it all over again. I would rather just take the train.  The kindergartens are really full. It’s hard to get a place.

It’s good living here. I would recommend doing this but it’s harder to learn a language. It’s good to experiement and live in another country and learn about it. Here were we live there aren’t a lot of houses because it’s a city and there are a lot of parks.

So we’ve purchased our tickets to head back home in June. How does that make you feel? Are you excited about our month in London?

I’m excited about the Harry Potter shop. My teacher told me it was really expensive. We are going to save all our birthday money for it. So, Mom do not give me anything but money, please, and I want to ride the London Eye. It’s going to be awesome. I dont think you are going to go on it mom because you are scared of heights. You might miss out on all of the fun.

I’m kind of sad to leave Germany, but I’m gonna be ready to be in a place were everyone speaks English, my language AND I don’t really want to take German Saturday school. You should just teach us mom.

So five months into it …. and the question is, How has this experience changed you and would you want to do it again? 

I would defintiely want to do it again. And it hasn’t changed me. But I’m glad I learned learning the language. I’m so glad that we got to come here. Yeah.

The Half-Year Interview Series – JR

Hello JR,

How has your day been? 

Good. I’ve been reading Harry Potter and it has been really interesting.

We’ve been living in Germany for five months now. We’ve officially reached the half way point. What has been the most surprising thing about living abroad? 

Snow. That there hasn’t been snow for all December except for one little one then way after Christmas AND winter break then there was finally snow. It lasted only three days, ONLY three days. We had fun in the snow.

Most easiest and most difficult things about living in Germany?

Trying to make friends. It’s a little hard here.

We just went through our first holiday in Germany. What was your favorite part? Your favorite gift? 

Thanksgiving was pretty much the same. St Nicholas Day was pretty awesome. I got a whole load of chocolate and Harry Potter books. On Christmas it was so good. I got the rest of the Harry Potter books. On New Years I had TWO bowls of PARTY chips.

Weihnachtsmarkt in English means Christmas market. My favorite thing was lassos. It’s a candy and not a rope. I tried a lot of new foods. We went on the big ferris wheel and the double decker merry-go-round.

You’ve been in school for four months now. How’s it going? Favorite subjects? Struggles? Accomplishments? 

My strugglements is trying to get along with the girls. All the boys in my class have bad breath. My favorite is Math. Everyone wants my help in Math. I’m the third smartest person. Rory and Omar are the first.

Anything you want to share with us about the experience of living abroad as a seven year old? 

So one of my favorite things to do when I am at home is reading Harry Potter and playing with our BB-8. Reading Harry Potter is one of my favorite things.

Playgrounds are pretty cool and there are a lot of them. The climbing park is the best. It’s a little far, but not really. It’s giant.

Also the German accent sounds a little weird and is different. And their rock walls are really really hard to climb.

So we’ve purchased our tickets to head back home in June. How does that make you feel? Are you excited about our month in London? 

I’m excited about London.

So five months into it …. and the question is, How has this experience changed you and would you want to do it again? 

Well here is one thing I would tell everyone about it but I cannot tell them everything so they could get surprises. I would tell them there is a chance you will have jet lag. So they’ll have to figure that out. Jet lag is when you go to a new country and there is a huge time difference. You should take a nap whenever you get to the place you are going and it’ll help you feel better.

I maybe would not recommend it or maybe I would. It depends on the family and if they can handle it. I don’t think I would want to do it again because then I’ll have jet lag again.

Giving Warmth: Refugees in Leipzig

Here in Germany we are slowly entering the the cold, bleak months of winter and while many of us are enjoying the joys of the holiday season before the real cold sets in some are fighting to make their way to safety.

Here in Leipzig there are two refugee camps that I know of. One is right next door to my work. If I go a block up to the little cafe I can see their clothing drying outside in the cold winter chill. I can see the bathrooms set up outside. They have to walk from set up to set up. This refugee camp will hold about 450 people. Today the twins brought home a flyer from the school about another camp that will hold approximately 100 people.  Most of the people being housed will be families with children. Families who aren’t prepared for the German winters.

I received a note in the twins’ folder that their school will be taking donations of winter clothing … scarves, mittens, hats, sweaters, pants, jackets etc for the children.  On Saturday, PH and I will be taking our kids shopping for clothing to donate. All donations are going to be turned in Wednesday morning.

If you are interested in donating financially to our donation shopping trip please contact me.

IMG_2175

Everywhere Librarians are awesome.

Today E came home with a great little story. Her German language class had been canceled for the day and so she went and hung out at the library till her next class.

Cultural Difference :: If a teacher is sick or for some other reason misses a class there isn’t typically a substitute, instead the children can go home if they don’t any other classes for the day or they find a place to wait until their next class begins.

E had just pulled a book off a shelf when one of the librarians came over and asked if she needed help. E floundered about for a moment trying to find the correct sentence in her head and finally she just blurted out, “Meine Deutsch ist nicht so gut!”

The librarian smiled at her and said, “Oh the English student!”  She proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes with E working on her German with her. E helped her with her ‘bad’ English. At the end at their time together E said she was sad. She said this librarian had taught her more about the German language then any of her other classes.

Moral of this story – Librarians Everywhere Rock!

Dresden Day Trip

 

We love having visitors. This past week we welcomed my husband’s parents, who we shall call Memaw and Pepaw – Southern names for grandmother and grandfather – as well as some old friends of ours from one of our favorite cities. On the one day everyone was here together we took a day trip to Dresden.

Late during WWII, Dresden was heavily bombed by the British and most of the city was completely destroyed. It wasn’t until the early 1990s after the GDR that Dresden begin to rebuild. Slowly using as much of the original rubble as they could, they began to rebuild. As you can see from the photos below it looks quite beautiful now.

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend, so after the quick train ride to Dresden we went down to the Innenstadt. We went into the Frauenkirche, which had only just been restored and opened to the public in 2005. We stopped and ate lunch in the medieval section of the Weihnachtsmarkt before heading into the castle. The boys especially loved the armor and weapon rooms.  PH and I are already planning another trip to Dresden. I’m thinking we need to do the touristy thing and do one of the bus tours.

 

IMG_1985

IMG_2015

IMG_2017

IMG_1984

IMG_1982

 

 

Our Sweet New Ride

We just received one of the best Christmas presents EVER! It’s a sweet new ride in black and it’s gonna make life so much easier here in Germany.

After using our grocery shopping method of backpacks and bags for a few days, our visiting family and friends decided to end the crazy. They banded together and upped our grocery shopping methods about 1000% with a little early Christmas present.

Here she is. I think I’m gonna call her Peggy Sue.

“Come on Peggy Sue lets go get some groceries.” 

IMG_2113

 

Thanksgiving – Mission Accomplished

Happy Thanksgiving from across the pond!

Celebrating a holiday like Thanksgiving in a foreign country in a really tiny kitchen can be difficult. However, I was determined and with the help of my wonderful mother-in-law we managed to pull it off.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Germany. So, instead of sitting around the house cooking food, watching the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Westminster Dog Show, and digging through black Friday ads, the kids went to school, I went to work and PH went on a quick trip to Berlin.  My in-laws visited some more sites around Leipzig and picked up the last few things we needed to make our complete our evening feast.

In the late afternoon hours, we managed to successfully roast a big enough turkey in our small oven. We also prepared and cooked mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, stuffing, rolls and a plum cake in our tiny little kitchen.

Just a little reminder of the amount of space we have to prepare meals in. IMG_0082

We welcomed lifelong friends from the other side of the big pond – which is why PH went to Berlin -who brought us gifts of stuffing (ate it), Jiffy cornbread mix (YEAH), and creamy Jif peanut butter (heaven).

We brought in another table and we were all able to sit together. Our set up really spanned the length of the room. We didn’t have any fancy plates or matching anything or even enough glassware (some of us used coffee mugs), but we made it work.

IMG_1978

I didn’t quite know what Thanksgiving in Germany would be like.  I didn’t know if we would really attempt to celebrate it.  I’m thankful we did. I’m thankful so many of our friends and family members from the states came to celebrate with us. Mostly I’m so thankful for this wild and crazy year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Turkey Heist

Disclaimer: No turkeys will be harmed unless they have been bought from Kaufland, which at that point harming will be a moot point because someone will have already done the dirty deed and I’ll just need to defrost and brine and cook the thing. 

Today’s dinner conversation centered around the Thanksgiving menu. What could or could we not get in Germany.

Cranberries – Yes although not canned. Okay I can deal with this.
Mashed potatoes – Easy peasy although we don’t have any kind of blender so we’ll be doing this the old fashion way.
Green beans – Yes
Pies – Yes
Turkey ….

Up until last week I wasn’t sure about the turkey. I explain this to the kids and they were perplexed. What do you mean?! Germany doesn’t have turkeys!!!

Nope, Germany doesn’t have turkeys. Europe doesn’t have turkeys. Turkeys are an American bird.  I say, “There is only one Turkey in Leipzig and it’s at the zoo.”

Em immediately says, “Okay, I have a plan …”

Em’s long drawn out plan that is constantly evolving as she is explaining it to us involves us – defined as me, Professor Husband, and Little J. The rest of the crew is at home being watched by C. Little J volunteered for this mission. – dressed all in black and sneaking into the zoo at night. We are to bring with us a knife, a bag or big pot, and headlamps.  We will climb over the fence. Chop off the turkey’s head, so it can’t struggle to much and shove it into the pot or bag. We will then grab a chicken from the chicken pen and put it into the turkey pen because, “Germans don’t even know what a turkey looks like.” And sneak back out.

R exclaims, “I’m gonna turn you into the police.”

This makes Little J cry.

Which makes me have to explain to him and to R that his sister was just making up a story and we under no circumstances are going to sneak into any zoo and make off with any turkey. Additionally, I found turkeys at Kaufland the other day!!!! So there is no need too. Also if we hadn’t found turkey we could have had duck or goose.

R says, “I’m not eating any goose! Let’s get a turkey.”

Proof of our Kaufland turkeys! They are seriously the smallest turkeys I have ever seen. This photo is deceptive.
IMG_1908