My first 4-5 weeks in Germany have been incredible. I’ve completed my intensive language preparatory program, I’ve visited several cities within the state of Baden-Württemberg, made new friends, tried new things (including food of course), and have really grown in a way I hadn’t expected. In addition to the imminent arrival of my family, I am also in the process of moving to a different city, buying and transporting furniture, and getting ready for the Winter semester.
I’ve learned so much German in a short time, but still have a long way to go. There are a million things that I want to be able to say but have yet to learn how to correctly. Studying foreign language grammar and vocabulary are collectively one thing, but engaging in everyday conversation is tough.
Last week, I finished my preparatory language program which meant that it was time to move from the small village of Dettingen (where I was living with a host family) to the larger city of Tübingen. In Tübingen lies the university where I’ll be studying at, as well as my new apartment. The only downside of this move, is the lack of furniture included. My apartment literally had nothing inside of it, so I had to shop around for beds, dressers, sofa, table, chairs, you name it. Fortunately I had help with a rental truck, provided by the language prep school, Herman-Hesse-Kolleg. If it wasn’t for their help, I’d be another €300 in the hole. After a restless day of shopping at IKEA and various thrift stores, I ended up with all the furniture, plus two mattresses, that I’d need for the year. We are on a tight budget and don’t need a lot to survive.
The final exam went well, and we had a farewell dinner with our host families. We prepared a short presentation and said our goodbyes. The weekend of the 14th-16th I spend preparing for my family to arrive. I went shopping for all the smaller things I couldn’t get from IKEA. I bought cleaning supplies and groceries. We are still accumulating things as we go, but for the most part we have everything we need. As soon as the 17th rolled around, I was ready so see my wife and kids again.
I took the train from Tübingen to Stuttgart to collect them. They were excited, jet lagged, and hungry. We took the train back to Tübingen where I showed them their new home and took them out to eat. We only had a couple days before we hit the road for Bruges, Belgium. It was time for a vacation. During the school year, I find myself so busy that I hardly have time to spend with my family. We are so blessed that we could pull off this year abroad. Now it feels like I have all the time in the world to spend with my family. We are content.
The ride to Bruges, Belgium was long and full of delays. The Deutsche Bahn is notorious for their delays. If you every take the train in Germany, be prepared for the delays. Once we reached our destination, we were excited and ready to explore. We also went to a sea park, located on the south side of Bruges. The kids loved it, even through the rain. Here are some photos from our journey.
The ride home was again, full of delays, missed connections, and hungry kid’s tummys. We were so happy to get home, but to put icing on the cake, we missed our bus stop. My youngest son, Asher, pushed the “stop” button on the bus when I wasn’t looking. I was holding him while looking out the window. The driver was outraged and I apologized. I pushed the button for us to get out, but to my surprise, the bus drove another 5 minutes up the road before stopping. It was pouring rain and he asked if this was our stop. I said, “Umm, ja, danke” and stepped out. We were literally in the middle of nowhere and began backtracking home. The walk would’ve taken us 40 minutes to complete, but a concerned young man stopped and picked us up with his van. Apparently, his younger brother saw us on the road, while riding his motorcycle. The younger brother told him to pick us up, especially because we had kids. German hospitality: there is nothing else like it. We thanked the young man and went home to dry off and relax.
The past week has been full of appointments, forms, offices, and business. We have to get the kids ready for kindergarten, get my wife ready for her German class, and get into a solid routine. For now, everything is falling into place. Life is truly good.