Friday, January 1, 2016

Stranger in a Deutschland: Reflections on our first year in Germany

Exactly one year ago today we arrived in Germany, having travelled all night. We were exhausted and not just a little bit traumatized. It was January 1st –new year, new country—and not a single grocery store was open.

My family was hungry.

We bought what we could at a gas station and we survived. Pringles and microwave pasta, if  memory serves.

We joke about it now, but at the time I was pretty sure I had made the biggest mistake in the history of the world by taking my family to a place where I couldn’t speak the language, wasn’t familiar with the culture, and didn’t know a single soul.

I’d just like to announce now –one year later—that I no longer feel that way. Actually I haven’t really felt that way for the past 11 months.  Thank goodness. Because if those feelings had remained we would’ve already been high-tailing it back to the U.S.

It’s been a year of growth and stretching in just about every aspect of our lives, for sure. And growth is hard.

Besides just the general “we miss our friends and a country where we understand the language” blues, we had some specific downers in 2015:
Boblingen - our hometown

  • Kevin breaking his foot a month after arriving here
  • Having a pretty difficult time finding a permanent house large enough for our entire family
  • Finally finding our house and making it to the highest level of selection to be on House Hunters International, only for our landlord not be willing to sign the document that would allow us to shoot the show on her property
  • Me trying to decorate our new house. You guys, the stress. UGH.
  • Kiddo #2 getting some sort of chronic cough half way through the year that he still hasn’t completely shaken.
  • Me hitting a parked car while trying to get out of the way of another car on a tiny street. Then trying to explain to the owner –while in my pajamas and robe—what happened. Oh yeah, and I didn’t speak German and she didn’t speak much English.
Then there were elements that weren’t really downers, just more difficult:

  • Finding an orthodontist for the kids
  • Learning how to work all the new appliances whose manuals are all in German
  • Learning how to order in restaurants when the menus are all in German
  • Learning how to manipulate the public transportation system when… you get the picture
But the great, was really REALLY great:

  • Meeting Benedict Cumberbatch (sans restraining order) and Lionel Ritchie in person
  • Traveling to all theses places and more: Amsterdam, Paris, Croatia, Istanbul, the Black Forest, Venice, London, Austria, Switzerland, Greece
  • All the festivals and activities here… October Fest, Pumpkin Fest, Chocolate Fest, Wine Walks, Christmas Markets. Seriously, Germans do not believe in staying inside
So as 2015 ends I look and see we’ve grown, we’ve changed, we haven’t learned as much German as we should.  There are things we’ll change for the new year, but a lot will just continue as it is. Life here can often be hard, but the hard is what makes it great.

Here’s to 2016 and the new adventures it will bring. For all of us, no matter which side of the ocean we're on.


  1. Sounds like quite an experience! :)

    Happy New Year!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful journey! Lots of experiences tat so many people wish they could enjoy, and one or two experiences we are glad we missed.

    Happy New Year to you and your family. May 2016 be a year of growth and contentment.