It has been two weeks since I arrived in Germany. Two weeks of an emotional roller-coaster. I knew when I made the decision to move across the world it would be hard to say goodbye to my family but I never realized it would hit me like a freight train. Just two years ago, I thought that saying goodbye to them and moving to Milwaukee was hard- this was that times 100. Knowing I am going to miss important family events, family pictures will be taken without me, and memories will be made in my absence- it is a crushing feeling. However, I know I made this decision to pursue happiness and although I have put this decision into question more times than I can count these last few weeks, I know this is something I need to do. And when this is all said and done, I know my family will be there for me no matter what happens- and that gives me immense comfort.
Adjusting to life here has been an adventure. Everyday feels like I am in a nail salon. You know, the kind where everyone only speaks Chinese and you have no idea what they are saying? It feels that way here. It’s not easy trying to read peoples tone and expression, and using the very little German I know, to decipher what is being said. More times than not, my assumptions on what is being discussed are way off. I hate making Manuel translate constantly, it really interrupts conversation for everyone else so typically I just sit there in “silence”. I have been working hard to improve my German skills but I am so scared that I will say something wrong that I seldom use it. I guess I better get over that- and fast! The first night I was here, Manuel’s parents took us out to dinner. During dinner I found out that Manuel’s mom’s birthday was the next day- so I said Happy Birthday! Everyone looked at me like I said something awful. Come to find out in the German culture it is bad luck to say Happy Birthday to the person before the actual date of their birthday. I guess I will chalk that one up to a live and learn experience.
I did get to experience Carnival for the first time, which was unbelievably fun! It’s sort of a mixture between Halloween, Homecoming, and Marti Gras. Everyone gets really into it and dresses up, and it lasts an entire month! I was concerned for about 20 seconds that I didn’t have a costume to wear since I had to pack only the essentials coming here. However, Manuel quickly showed me his family’s costume “closet”. There were so many costumes I felt like I was in a costume store! It was a blast trying everything on and figuring out what costume to wear. I ended up being a Mexican the first night and a Witch the next time. We went to a parade in a neighboring town for Carnival and many of the float rivaled that of our college homecoming floats. They were great and all made by local clubs and groups.
Manuel and I traveled to Munich for a day. We did some shopping (or I did the shopping as he followed along) and strolled around the city- well at least until it started raining. The buildings there, and everywhere in Germany, have so much culture and history that we just don’t get to experience in America. The building below is one of my favorites! Luckily we got to it right at 12 noon as all the bells were chiming.
Each day Manuel and I seem to make more of a “home” with each other here. I forgot how many things I took for granted having in my apartment. Starting out with a few essentials (thanks to Manuel’s family) we have slowly began to purchase all of the supplies we will need. Manuel streams Froggy 98.1 – a Lincoln, NE radio station to help me feel more at home- it sounds weird but its oddly comforting. The weather here has been great and the view from my window is picturesque to say the least. The mountains are beautiful with the snow sparkling off of them. The months ahead hold a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see what happens along the way. Tschüss! (See? I am trying with this language thing)