And finally, the move is complete. I arrived in Germany bright and early on August 9. Aaron was there to meet me at the airport (he had been here for a week and a half already), and help me with my luggage. I'm not going to lie, it was hard to say good bye to friends, family and the state that I have always called home, but I am so excited about experiencing life in a different country and a different culture.
Some things that I've noticed already about Germany:
- Their bread is cheap - and delicious. We get fresh brot every other day. It doesn't help that there is a bakery literally twenty steps from the entrance to our building.
- Sundays are supposed to be a "day of rest" and while in the US this doesn't mean much anymore, in Germany it is sacred. The grocery stores, shops, everything, close down. The only things open are some restaurants and bakeries, and they usually have very limited hours.
- Not knowing the language hasn't been a huge barrier, some words are remarkably similar in both English and German, and I do have Google translate on my phone. However, things that normally take me a couple seconds in English tend to take ten times as long right now. Even though I've been here for a week and a half, things are already getting easier and my language skills are improving. I'm ready to start on my formal language lessons again though. This whole "learning as you go thing" is tiresome.
- Their concept of American food is...interesting. And expensive. I managed to find a grocery store where Duncan Hines cake mix was supposed to be and it was 6 Euro, or about $8 USD.
- While I don't know for sure, it seems like Germans only drink bottled water, not tap water. And the options are vast for bottled water. I'm still in the process of deciphering them, but I will say that I'm actually preferring sparking water over still water now. Aaron still doesn't like it, which is for the best - he won't be stealing my water then!
- Sometimes, the littlest things right now are mini-victories. Successfully ordering lunch at a cafe in German, not getting lost in the city, making an appointment for a haircut, finding the right laundry detergent, navigating the checkout at the grocery store - little things that are essential to daily life made difficult by being in a country where they speak a different language and have different customs. Thankfully, I haven't seriously offended anyone. Or been run over yet.
- I think German's are afraid of being cold. Granted, the weather has generally been cool(ish) and rainy (think, mid- to upper-60s). It's not atypical to see people wearing a jacket, big scarf and long pants on a day when the weather is sunny and 73F. One day, I even saw a guy wearing a puffer jacket. If this is how they dress when the weather is half way decent, I'm interested to see what they wear in the winter!
During my first full weekend in the country, there was a 125th anniversary celebration of the Wasserturn in Mannheim. One of the local energy companies, MVV, opened it up for visitors. We thought it was more or less ornamental in nature, come to find out it actually a functioning water tower! It was pretty cool to see inside it and Aaron was able to get some great pictures!
It seems like there is always something going on, something that is new to us since we have never lived in a city before.
Aaron has included some pictures from the Schwetzinger Garden from his visit with some BASF interns before I arrived. I would love to have a garden as large as this one. Maybe someday Aaron will build one (and hire the staff necessary for its maintenance).
We are currently in the process of planning a weekend trip to Brussels for the first weekend in September. Until then, we will be discovering a little bit more about stuff close to home.