Home / 2007 / October

I Want to Write a Post!

I really do! But I am trying so hard to be “Linden 2.0” here.

One of my biggest problems in America was not managing my time well. I was a terrible procrastinator and I could always find something else to do with my time than what I was supposed to be doing.

But nobody here knows that, and I want to recreate myself as someone who gets what she needs to do done ahead of time. I want to recreate myself as an organized person.

So, that means I don’t just sit down and write a blog post when the idea strikes me (with the exception of this one, of course). I make a note in my planner or on my To Do list and get back to work. Right now, I want to right a blog about all the interesting pictures I’ve taken (Look for the title “It’s All Foreign to Me and Foreign = Interesting”). I want to write a blog about our trip to Berlin this weekend (“October Birthdays… In Berlin!”). I want to write a blog about how my everyday life here is different from my everyday life in American (“It’s Different, but Pretty Much the Same”). But not yet, my pretties. I must work. I must be efficient. I must be Linden 2.0.

If you know me, you know I love quotes. Here are some quotes that inspire me (emphasis mine).

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandburg, US biographer and poet (1878 – 1967)

The things that one most wants to do are the things that are probably most worth doing.
Winifred Holtby, O Magazine, September 2002

It’s wonderful what we can do if we’re always doing.

George Washington (1732 – 1799)

Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing.
Phil Jackson.

It’s All Foreign to Me: Teaching at a German University

Wow! Administratively, it is night-and-day different from Missouri State University! This was probably my biggest surprise: I figured that Germany would be at least equally technologically advanced, but my university has no electronic registration to speak of. Some departments don’t even announce their class schedules until the week before classes start. Obviously, this makes the first few weeks of classes part teaching and part student juggling. They need to find a way to take all the classes they need, and instead of being able to figure out their schedule months in advance, they are still figuring it out come the second week of school. Fortunately, a system has been set in motion to create some sort of electronic registration system in the English Department, and I have been told that compared to the past few years, this semester beginning has been orderly.

There are two types of students, modularized and non-modularized. Modularized students are working towards what we would call a bachelor’s degree, while the Non-Mods are collecting “Scheine” (“shine-uh,” or certificates). There are two types of Scheine, graded and ungraded (like auditing a class). Non-Mods can take a class as many times as they like and can take which ever courses they want. They can spend as many years as they like taking classes, and when they are ready for a degree, they take all their Scheine to an office who sorts through them to determine which major they have. Thankfully, because of standardization required by the EU, that system is being phased out. Until it gone completely, though, I will have sometimes all of the class who just need the ungraded Schein, and therefore don’t have to do any homework or take the final exam. Again, very different from American university, where you have a list of courses that you will be taking to earn a degree you (are supposed to) decide upon early in your college career, and try to finish as quickly as possible to avoid large student loans. But German students haven’t, until recently, had to pay for college at all.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because the teaching part is the same: Spend several hours preparing for a class, get up in front of the students, and try to engage them and keep them interested. The only difference from Missouri State is that now I’m doing that with six different sets of students instead of two, and instead of 50 or 75 minutes, each class lasts 90 minutes. It’s all this administrative stuff that is new to me, that I am learning more about every day.

My schedule did change a little bit this week, and, for me, in an exciting way: I am now teaching a grammar course! I won’t go into the long story of how this happened, but I am glad it did! As much as I love grammar, I know this course will be challenging: it is one thing to learn grammar as a student, but quite another to learn grammar to teach it. I think I will be staying “one step ahead of my students,” but at least it is in a subject I enjoy!

Like a Brick Wall

I just got really lonely! Rob’s best friend from “high school” (or “Gymnasium,” as it is called in Deutsch) just stopped by for a visit and they went out for brunch so the apartment was suddenly quiet. Then I logged on and read (and re-read) a few emails and a Facebook message from friends and family and then the lonliness hit.

So I went shopping for office supplies. Those of you who don’t know, I hope this doesn’t affect your opinion of me. But I am addicted to office supplies. Pens–good ones–are probably my biggest weakness, but I love any little item that makes an office more workable: binder clips that keep papers from escaping, divided folders that keep all my classroom documents organized and portable, drawer dividers that keep each item in its place, hanging folders, you name it!

Since we moved here, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for good office supply stores. There is a department store, Kaufhof, on the next street over from Seltersweg (also a Fußgängerzone) that has a nice selection. Rob found a store, Büro Funk (I love that name!), near my bus stop that is just an office supply store. And I need some more organized way to keep track of student papers than piles on my desk: I was on the search for… well, I don’t even know what they are called. Available in both horizontal and vertical styles, you put papers in them for sorting or filing. I think the horizontal ones are usually labeled “inbox” and “outbox.” Does anyone know what I am talking about?? :)

Regardless of what they are called, Kaufhof had them at €3,— a pop! Büro Funk? Yep, only €1,50. I only had a €5 bill, so I got three, but I’m going to have to go back on my way to school today because they are on sale and there aren’t too many left!

Shopping does not heal what ever emotional ill I have at the time of Visa swiping, and I know that after three years of counseling. So I’m writing. And I’ll run later today.

Maybe I’m lonely because I haven’t made a friend yet? I have met some really great people, but you have to remember that I left this wonderful group of people in Springfield/America who Know me, Love me, and who I feel comfortable around. I don’t have any of that here yet, and I think that’s why I still don’t like going many places alone, and why I absolutely love getting emails, blog comments and your own blog posts (for those of you who have blogs blogs) Facebook messages and wall posts, MySpace messages and comments… basically, hearing from my friends and family back home really makes my day!

Shitty Day

So I have officially declared October 11, 2007 a Shitty Day. We had planned to go to Frankfurt to get start the process of getting my new passport (more on that in a minute). But we heard Wednesday that the train workers had declared that they would strike Thursday, but thankfully they ended up switching their strike to Friday.

So when we got married, we changed all of the necessary documents and accounts to “Mueller.” Except my passport. We can’t figure out if we said, “We won’t be travelling overseas for a couple years at least. It can wait,” or “Oh, we’ll do it next month when we get paid,” or if we just plain out forgot about my passport. Whatever happened in the fall of 2004, we didn’t get Linden a new passport with the name “Linden Mueller” in it. So, if you ever find yourself in this situation, remember these two things.

One: Buy your plane tickets in whichever name appears on your passport. You should be able to fly in and out of any country without any problems. The only time we had an issue was when I tried to pay for our luggage with my debit card, which of course is in my married name. The US Airways lady wondered why my ticket and my debit card were in two names, so I had to show her my marriage lisence.

Two: Despite what the frustrated, desk-bound lady at the local passport office says, you do not have to expedite your passport application for an extra $300 dollars so you get your new passport maybe before you leave. You do not have to be in America to get your passport. You do not have to send in your current passport to get a new one. Let me tell you what the passport lady who thought she had all the answers didn’t know.

American citizens can get their passports renewed at any American Consulate. Take the filled out application form, your passport, your passport pictures, and your marriage license (if you are in my situation) with you. Tell them you are living abroad and that you need to keep your passport on you. The nice man behind the glass will take your passport and marriage certificate, make copies, and kindly hand them back to you as if he does this every day. Which he probably does. Because American citizens abroad need to keep their passports on them at all times. Doesn’t the Springfield passport lady know that?! Grr. Sorry, it just seems like a question she should at least have tried a little harder to answer, instead of just BS-ing her way through me to the next person in line.

So we left the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt 67 dollars poorer, but confident and happy that I would have an accurate passport in however long it’s taking those things right now (I’ve heard that instead of the normal six to eight weeks, it’s taking 12 to 14 because of the new law requiring passports from re-entry from Mexico and Canada). So we got off the U-bahn a couple stops before the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof and checked out the Frankfurt Dom (cathedral) and Roemer remains (Roman remains). Wow. I have yet to see a cathedral that fails to take my breath away. Outside the Dom there were some walls from a church built sometime between 70 and 115 AD, and then some that were built on top of those in about 800 AD. They really weren’t too amazing to see, as they were just short little walls, but their age made them mesmerizing.

We headed back to Giessen, and went straight to the office where you register with the German government. Very smoothly and in about 20 minutes, Rob requested a new German ID card. We were feeling pretty productive, so we went ahead to the next office.

Here, we waited for 60 minutes before our number was called. When we got in there, we got some bad news. Apparently, I am working illegally right now. Since my contract is for October 1, the university should have had my work permit all ready by then. Plus, according to some agreement made at the Hague a long time ago, countries no longer have to recognize legal documents from another country. It’s not that our marriage isn’t legal, because it is, but the German government just doesn’t recognize it. The man didn’t even give us one teensy tiny clue about what we’d need to do to fix that problem. Next, he asks me how my German is, and I tell him it’s okay. Then, he starts telling us that I need to go to these classes and improve my German and all this stuff. So we leave there, completely deflated.

I mean, that was some shitty news. I am fairly certain that the university is working on my work permit, but that office doesn’t know it, and that man made us feel like were doing something pretty bad since I have been working since October 1. We know our marriage is legal, but no one has told us that there’s an extra step we needed to go through so the German government would recognize it. My German isn’t perfect, but I’m fairly competent, and I sincerely want to learn the language. It’s not like I am going to be here for two years and come home with no improvement in my German. I hope by the end of one year, I will have significantly improved my fluency!

So. What now? We have found some answer to the marriage certificate issue, and it looks like we need to have something done to our marriage license called an “Apostille.” I’ll try to get more information about that once I know it, but that one word should be enough help for anyone in this situation. And the work visa? I’m not going in to the office today, and my boss’s secretary isn’t there today anyway, so hopefully Monday we’ll have some answers on that front.

My First Half-Marathon

It happened three weeks and 4,000 miles away from where I have been training for since June, but it was still the same 13.1 miles (21,1 km). Sarah and I carefully planned our Road to the Marathon, which started with a 5k in March, went to a 10k in June, and was supposed to include the Bass Pro Cohick Half-Marathon on November 4 and then the Little Rock Marathon in spring. Unfortunately, our “roads” have forked, and the terrain between the big stops (the races) isn’t the same anymore, but we still share the goal of working our way up to the marathon distance (26.2 miles).

So instead of running the route which starts and ends at Bass Pro that we have been training on since June, I ran a route I had never even seen before for the Giessener Walking Day (weird name for it, huh?). I didn’t know where the water stops and restrooms would be. I didn’t know if it was hilly or flat, shaded or sunny. I didn’t know if it was one giant loop (like the Bass Pro route), or a smaller loop I’d run multiple times.

It was a 6.55 mile loop that overlapped with the 10k-ers 3.05 mile out-and-back. And now we meet one of two aspects of this race that I strongly disliked. As I was doing what felt like a pretty good pace, the fast 10k runners (who started a full 10 minutes after we did) caught up, and suddenly my pace felt like walking. The fastest 10k ran yesterday was 33 minutes. That’s a 5’24” mile for six miles! So anyway, being passed by fast 10k runner after fast 10k runner was a big blow to my mental game.

I made it to the half-marathon turn around where THE water stop was and had mentally overcome being so slow compared to the other people on the course, so I just kept running. Normally, it is good to take those water stops, because by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated, but I had on my fuel belt, so I had water with me and wasn’t too worried about getting some aqua when I did feel like walking.

About 3 kilometers out from the starting line, which signified half of the distance for the half-marathon runners, an older man caught up with me that I had been playing leap frog with the whole time (I’d pass him slowly, then he’d pass me, etc). He was fun to talk to and spoke some English to me even though I spoke German to him. Man, as difficult as it is to form German sentences during normal everyday life, it’s that much harder when you’re sweating, exhausted, and not even half-way done with your race! But I am determined to get as much practice as I can, and he corrected me a little bit, so it was fun to try. His name is Martin and this was a training run for him, as he is running the Frankfurt Marathon in two weeks. And now we get to the second aspect of this race that I strongly disliked.

Except for Martin and I, it felt like all the other runners were professionals, or at least were really fast. The first half-marathon finisher did it in 1 hour 16 minutes (that’s a 5’48” for 13.1 miles!). I did my first loop in 1 hour 10 minutes, which is a PR for me, as I did my 10k in June in 1 hour 15 minutes. Almost everyone at the race was a member of a team. Rob, who ran his 10k yesterday in exactly one hour (his goal time and a pace of 9’50”), was 150th place out of 163. It just isn’t like that at the races I’ve been to in America. There are usually a wide range of abilities, and I’ve never come in dead last like I did in this race (well, there was one lady behind me, but it sure felt like dead last!). I hope that this race was like this because it was a relatively small race. This would be awful to deal with for a marathon!

So anyway, Martin wasn’t out to shatter any records and was “running at his own pace,” just like me. It was nice to run and talk with someone for a little!

I took my carb shot as I hit the starting line and walked and talked with Rob for a few minutes. The carb shot didn’t hit me very good, so that third leg of the race was a lot of running for 5 minutes or so, then walking for a minute or a minute and half, gulping down some water, and running again. I even took a little stretch break to renew my body and mind a little. When I hit the turn around point for the last fourth of the race, I finally started feeling good, and I ran most of that leg pretty well. The the nordic walkers caught up with me.

As far as I can tell, nordic walking differs only from normal walking in that the nordic walkers use sticks and the “best ones” walk really fast. So fast that three of them caught up with and passed me! So about halfway through that last leg, my mental game, which was going through a strong period, plummeted, and I felt slow and worthless again. I let them pass me and pass me they did! Soon enough we were far away from each other that I could ignore them and bolster the last bit of mental strength. As I got closer to the finish line, about 1.5 km out, I saw Martin running towards me! He had finished his half-marathon in 2 hours 30 minutes, talked to Rob for a few minutes, then ran back out to encourage me! Martin von Wetzlar, if you ever read this, DANKESEHR! And even though I didn’t know it was you who had told the announcers at the finish line, I did hear them say it was my first half-marathon. Thanks!

So I crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 37 minutes, and 57 seconds. My goal time was 2 hours 30 minutes, but I didn’t want to be any slower than 2’40”, so at least I hit that goal. My pace was 12’08” per mile, which I am proud of. Not 11’00” or 11’30”, but I’ll get there. The biggest lesson I learned during this race is that I need to focus on my mental game more during my training runs. My body felt, overall, pretty good during the race, considering what I was putting it under (read: “My legs were killing me, but that’s what happens when you run long distances. Nothing hurt extremely bad, and I was able to finish on my feet and not on a stretcher. That equals ‘pretty good.'”), but my mind suffered blow after blow because of the other athletes on the course.

So when is the marathon???

Our Home in Deutschland

(Pictures coming soon! I’ll post again, hopefully soon, with pictures.)

It’s a “two room apartment,” but apparently, they don’t count hallway and balcony space, which is fine by me. There is a long hallway which goes almost the length of the apartment, a bedroom that is just a bit smaller than the one we had in Springfield, a living room that looks out the no-car zone our apartment is in, a very small bathroom with a washing machine, and a very small kitchen (probably 1/2 the size of the one we had in Springfield). Also, a large “terrace,” which we would call a patio or balcony in America. It’s probably 12’x20′ and it looks out to the city cathedral, Johanneskirche, as does our bedroom window (the patio is right outside the bedroom). It has all hard floors, and I love the windows!

If the handle is down, the window is locked. If you turn it a quarter turn, the window opens like a book, but when you turn the handle a 1/2 turn, it opens from the top, the hinge is at the bottom. From the side, it would look like a V with one side pointing straight up (the wall). The other leg of the V is the window. Because they don’t have air conditioning in Germany (!), this third setting allows you to open the window only a little bit, instead of all the way. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think their windows are really cool, and I’m so glad our apartment has them!

What do we love about this Wohnung (“voh-nung,” apartment)? Almost everything!

We were afraid that living on a “Fußgängerzone,” or no-car street lined with stores, might be loud, and it can be, but it has not been noisy at night so far, which is really the only time we’re worried about. Actually, we love that it’s on the Fußgängerzone, because as soon as we walk out our door, we have a Metzgerei (“mets-gair-eye,” or butcher) right across the street, so Rob can get all the fresh wurstchen and salami he wants of practically any type, and about three different bakeries within a three-minute walk. It’s so easy to just pop downstair and buy some freshly baked Brötchen (“broit-chen,” or rolls) for breakfast. Another great plus to our location on Seltersweg is that the nearest bakery is open every day of the week (99% of the stores on Seltersweg are closed on Sundays)! The bad part (for my waist!) of living where we do on Seltersweg (right above Eis-Cafe Dolomiten) is that there are four gelato cafes within that same three-minute walking distance! Sarah made me promise that I wouldn’t eat any Eis (“ice,” the German word for ice cream) unless I have run at least four miles that week, and so far, with *ahem* only a few exceptions, I have kept that promise. It’s harder than I thought it would be! :)

The hallway was something I found weird initially (we think it’s about 50 feet long), but now I think it’s great! We will be able to buy some nice cabinets and use it as storage for things we need access to, like linens, off-season clothing, and games. We bought bookshelves at IKEA already, and those are in the hallway too. The hallway basically makes the apartment feel a little bigger than it would without, and that’s always nice too. We do have a tiny little storage room next to the front door (it’s probably 2 1/2 feet by 8 feet), AND an attic, for all the things we won’t need easy access to.

The bedroom is just the right size, and did I mention the window that opens to a view of the Johanneskirche?! Beautiful.

The living room has slanted ceilings on both sides, which I think gives it some character, and it’s windows open to Seltersweg. Yesterday morning I stood on a footstool and listened to the street musician playing guitar and singing below. As long as the windows are closed during the day, you’d never know there were busy shoppers below. We’ve turned it into a living room and office, with a double wide desk (IKEA, of course!) along one wall with room for Rob’s computer and my laptop. The rest of the room is the living room/TV watching area. We opted for two reclining chairs instead of a couch because they take up less space, were cheaper, and will be easier to move! The living room is the black and red like we were always going for in Springfield, and there’s a nice red rug that really ties the room together. Dude.

The patio is AWESOME. We will eventually get patio furniture and maybe even a grill, and then we’ll be able to enjoy it more. So far, we’ve been standing out there for a few minutes just to enjoy the view and the fresh air. It’s the perfect place to stretch before and after a run, and we hang our clothes on the clothes line out there (dryers are virtually unheard of in Deutschland).

So what’s bad about this apartment? Only two things.

First, it’s on the top floor. I counted, and it’s 56 stairs to the top with six 180-degree turns (it’s a curvy stair case, and when I’m really tired, I get dizzy going up!). What compounds that negative aspect? We had 12 large, heavy pieces of luggage to get from the ground floor to the top floor. I’m not exactly sure, but I think we had four suitcases weigh in at 96 pounds, two each in the 70-pound range, the 60-pound range, and four more in the 50-pound range. That’s some heavy luggage to carry up 56 stairs in a narrow stair case! We almost literally fell down on the floor when we finished. It was exhausting work for sure, and I am not looking forward to those stairs after a hard run!

Second, the bathroom. Rob was really hoping that we would have a nice, deep tub, but instead we have a tiny shower in a tiny bathroom. Plus, it’s the only room that has a color scheme already. A rather elementry color scheme, if you ask me. It has primary colors in the tiles, with RED fixtures. Additionally, the washing machine is in the bathroom, which seems weird by American standards, but is quite normal for Deutschland.

The Trip to Germany

Tuesday, 25. September 2007: Our Last Full Day in America

All day, we took care of a few final tasks: shutting off the utilities and Mediacom, packing the last few items, and throwing away the last few items. We finally finished everything we needed to do by about 4:45. In the process, we came across a gift card to Wehrenberg Theater. So we used it! We saw Dane Cook’s Good Luck Chuck! It was H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S!!! (If you go see it, be sure to wait after the credits start to roll.)

Our luggage, all of it, was eagerly waiting by the door:

When Dad and Traci arrived, it was time to load our baggage in the back of Dad’s truck. How funny that was! Thank goodness Dad brought the bed extender! We had eight 29” rolling suitcases, two duffle bags, two small carry-ons, a backpack, and smaller carry-on. Check out the back of the truck:Because of the forecast of rain, we took about 30 minutes to cover the luggage with a tarp, then we hit the road. On our way to St. Louis, we had our last Big Macs and White Castles. It was a sad trip. And there was no rain.

26. Sep 2007

Man am I glad our flight left at 1! During breakfast, Dad was watching the report on the highway congestion, and between 9 and 10, it went from congested to completely clear. We repacked the back of the truck, and then had a quick and easy trip to the airport.

You know how airport trips are: hurry up, then wait. Then hurry up some more, then wait some more. Same story for us. As we arrived, a very wonderful curbside attendant helped us.

I think he was pretty excited because apparently we tripled the bags he’d handled so far that morning. He was SO helpful! As the lady at the check-in counter was giving us a hard time for bringing excess and heavy baggage, the skycap was weighing our luggage, helping us put address tags on all the pieces, and just being friendly. He really made that experience better. After we paid our excess baggage fee and the overweight baggage fee, it was time to Wait.

And that’s something I’d like to highlight for anyone who might have to move overseas. We read, re-read, and double-checked our airline’s website, and all we saw was that we’d have to pay for overweight baggage. You know, it sounds kind of silly now that I’m typing it out, but I guess I just didn’t realize we have to pay for both having extra luggage and then for the luggage we knew would be over the weight limit. So remember that: When you’re moving overseas and you realize that taking your whole life in suitcases instead of shipping it in boxes is going to be cheaper, remember that you’ll have to pay two separate fees. It still ended up being cheaper than USPS, but we didn’t save as much as we’d hoped we would have.

So we were waiting. We found the place where we’d have to go through security, then back-tracked a little bit to a little place where we could sit down and wait for noon to roll around. It was our final hour with Dad and Traci, and it was pretty nice. They both wrote in my memory book and we took some pictures. I hadn’t cried during this whole leaving process really (except on my last run), but as I walked up to the security line, I lost it. When the TSA lady was checking my passport and ticket, I was bawling. Embarrassing. :)

But if anything makes you forget that you’re leaving your homeland, it’ll be going through a security checkpoint. Some jerk-o thought we were stupid not to realize that only ONE piece of electronic equipment (for example, a bathroom scale and a DVD player–weird, I know, but we are re-locating across the big pond, and if you think about it, the scale, to weigh luggage, and the DVD player, to stave off boredom, are the last few things we used, so they were the last few things to be packed) goes in each plastic container. Alas, even though we learned that lesson the Rude Employee way, we learned our next lesson the Pleasant Employee way.

The man who had to search our baggage because we didn’t realize that we should have taken the hard drives, router, and power strips out of the suitcase. I actually got patted down, since I claimed the carry-on as mine. We were really glad for Nice Employee because he made the search (Hurry Up) not-so-weird. Despite being held back a little bit, we still had plenty of time to find our gate (Hurry Up), and then Wait.

The flight from St. Louis to Charlotte was quick and uneventful. Sadly, the flight using our plane before our flight was late, so we left late. When we arrived in Charlotte, the clock said we had 20 minutes to take off. We RAN from gate E17 to gate D3 (thank goodness for all those early morning runs. Too bad I hadn’t been running with a 20-pound backpack and a 20-pound carry-on!) and made it just in time. I’m telling you, we booked it! But we made it. It was great, just like the movies! Dashing across the airport, arriving at the gate, out of breath and exhausted, squeezing through all the people who were on time and looking at us like we were late (not our fault!), then collapsing into our seats, right before we take off.

The flight was okay—pretty much like any long flight: airplane food, crying babies, and difficulty sleeping. But I like this flight much better than the ones to and from Germany for my interview; trans-atlantic flights are better with my Robbie!

Here’s the surprise of the trip: we didn’t lose one single piece of luggage! I was sure we were going to be out at least one or two suitcases, but they all (all ten of them!) made it to Frankfurt at the same time we did. Amazing, huh?! We put them all onto two of those airport carts somehow, and as soon as we walked out of the luggage area, there was Rob’s mom (Kerstin, or “Mutti”) and her boyfriend, Gert, waiting for us! They went to get Gert’s VW Sharan, and then we had another fun time with the luggage: fitting eight 29″ rolling suitcases and the two large duffles in the back. We got most of it to fit just fine in the back, but one of the seats had to be folded down. It BARELY fit, but it fit. *shew* I was pretty sure that I took a picture of the Sharan STUFFED FULL, but—and I’m sure you’re sad that you don’t get to see another picture of our luggage—I seem to have forgotten to.

Once we arrived in Giessen, we got the keys to our apartment and checked it out. We are very happy with it, but I’ll post specifics in the next couple days.

Next, we had to register with the local city government, so they know we live here, and then it was off to the bank to set up a German account. At both places, we had some really nice, friendly, and helpful people to work with, and I am very greatful for that! Next we went to T-com (T-mobile) and set up a land line and internet, but we have to wait to use it until the middle of October . :( Finally, it was Döner time, then bedtime.

28. Sep 2007

Before we went to sleep last night, we both took two sleeping pills. I think we fell asleep around 21:30 (subtract 12 from the hours: 21-12 = 9, so 9:30 p.m.). Rob woke me up at 4 and asked me what time it was and I promptly fell back asleep. Apparently, he did not. :(

We had traditional German breakfast at the hotel with Mutti and Gert: brötchen (“broit-chen,” or rolls); deli meats (like salami); käse (“kay-zuh,” cheese); jellies, jams, and marmalades; soft-boiled eggs; yogurt; and coffee or tea. I think I’m going to miss omelettes, waffles, pancakes, and bacon, but deutsche Früstuck (“doi-chuh frew-shtuhk,” German breakfast) is still pretty good!

Today was utilities, mobile phones, and bedding day! First, we put the utilities in our name. Here, you choose a set amount to pay each month, then at the end of the year, they will have a technician check how much you used. If you use more than you paid for, you pay the difference. If you used less than what you paid for, they pay you the difference.

Next, we picked out some cheap pay-as-you-go phones because we really hate getting ourselves into contracts, and then it was time to search for a bed. We stopped by two places in Giessen, but they were very expensive. A bed frame, a very simple one, was at least 400 EUR, but usually cost about 1,000 EUR. Mattresses were at least 200 EUR. But luckily we had received an IKEA catalog in our mailbox, and we had already seen a really nice wood frame for only 149 EUR and mattresses that cost only 100 EUR for a single bed. So it was off to Frankfurt to find a place to sleep.

Three hours and several hundred dollars later, we had a mattress, a bed frame, and a cool medicine cabinet, plus a few random items, like drinking glasses and entryway rugs. And once again, we got to play with the puzzle of getting a lot to fit in a little space. A truck would have been nice this weekend! (Not that I’m complaining at all! I’m so glad they were here to help us. I’m just saying.) Everything we bought fit, with me sitting on the floor:

Thus ends our first full day in Deutschland: partially settled in our apartment and registered with the German government!

Die erste Blogpost aus Deutschland

(That’s ” The first blog post from Germany”)

I think most of my blog readers are getting my emails, and I’ve been trying to keep those upbeat, but I have to be real for a few minutes. Moving internationally has been hard. Sometimes I feel SO alone. I mean, I have Rob, but really, that’s it. And I think I’ll be making some great friends when school really gets started, but sometimes–riding the bus, working in my office, walking home–what we’ve done really hits me. We have moved to a place where we don’t know anyone. I am living in a country where I can only understand about half (on a good day!) of what is being said around me. Most places don’t take Visa, and most of the money we have until I get paid at the end of the month is accessable mainly by ATM (or EC “electronic cash” machines). Nothing around me is familiar. And all of that is opposite of what you have when you have lived in one place for seven years (i.e. me and Springfield).


I can’t just end this post like that though. So far, everything really has been wonderful. We haven’t had any major difficulties, our apartment is perfect, and my colleages all seem great. My first six days in Germany really haven’t been sour at all. I guess I just needed to vent some of those feelings. :)

Thanks for listening, and know that all your emails really make me feel like I’m not too far from home. I appreciate them more than I can express.