As we are headed into the end of the semester, I am finding myself in the middle of a million things at once. There are many plans to make, plans to break, and obligations to fulfill. With the privilege of studying abroad comes the responsibility of managing it. Many students have their parents to lend a hand. In my case, I am the parent; I must not only be responsible for myself but my family.
Life is a learning process, one where we make mistakes and fail in. Germany is much different than the United States when it comes to financial transactions. Not only is Germany a cash culture, but more relatively, a culture with obligations and often strict policies. Case in point, my children’s kindergarten payments. With both children, I notified their respective kindergartens too late about their cancellations. Since we are moving to Ulm in March, we must cancel their kindergartens within a certain time frame. Unfortunately, I will have to pay for an extra month of kindergarten for my oldest son, Ezra. I won’t have to pay for his food, to negotiate his cancellation and therefore will be spared ~€80.
We recently found an apartment in Ulm, which is such great news for us. This entire experience has basically been a leap of faith, a trust fall, and a blind walk of the plank wrapped into one. If I hadn’t made this decision, I would’ve never known how amazing it would have all been –I’m incredibly thankful for that. So this apartment, it’s a 2-bedroom, with a nice little kitchen and a huge refrigerator. Our current refrigerator is so tiny, but we’ve become accustomed to it. It’s basically a mini fridge that works well. Some of the best features are as follows: a washer in the bathroom, a bath tub, a window in the restroom, nice views from the window, and all three rooms are separable so we can lock the toddler out of areas we don’t want him in (like the kitchen). It lies in the district of Ulm, Söflingen, very close to the tram that takes us wherever we need to go. My older son Ezra’s kindergarten is on the same route as our tram ride home! All we need to do is hop on the tram, pass the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), and it goes straight to the kindergarten! I looked up the route and it only takes 17 minutes. We are very fortunate to have the help here in Germany: without this exact study abroad program and its coordinators, there’s no way we could pull this off.
There are many things that still need to be done before we go. As of now, we have about 6 weeks. I know those 6 weeks are going to fly by. I’m reminding myself each and every day to cherish the last month we have in Tübingen. Here, my family has had their first impressions of Germany, Europe, and being out of the United States for the first time. This trip is so special for not just me, but my wife and kids. I’m taking a whole year off from Trader Joe’s to participate in this. This program has improved me academically, taught me a foreign language, enabled me to spend time with my family, and will greatly prepare me for a successful career in the engineering field, whether in the United States or Germany.
Tübingen, near the famous Neckarbrücke
Horb am Neckar, 30 minutes from Tübingen
Me at the top of Horb am Neckar!