Living in Limbo…

This current situation that I find myself in is an odd one, a marriage and life straddling two continents.  Modern technology makes it easier and I often think about what it would be like without that.  Skype is a lifesaver.  CH and I have settled into a pattern of twice daily Skype calls during the week and more frequent on the weekends.  Because of the time difference, one of the calls is only sleepy ships passing in the night (or morning).  I was never much of a Skyper before this, so I know I’m late to that party.  durlach

I find myself a bit envious that CH is there experiencing new adventures without me.  I’m comforted though that he seems to be settling in well.  His apartment has everything that he needs and is in a small village on the outskirts of Karlsruhe.  Looking outside of his window he can see quaint German architecture,  community open markets and on the weekends the air is often filled with music from local bands.  Grocery shopping and small restaurants are all within walking distance, making everything quite convenient.  This flat is temporary though.  He will be moving into Karlsruhe proper in about another month.  That flat wasn’t immediately available, so he was lucky to find this one in the interim. (Thank you Carmen Sax!)  The new place will put him within walking distance from his office.

My days aren’t significantly different than before CH left, although it’s very lonely without him.  The first week I was like a lost puppy.  I’ve now created my own solo routine, however the silence in the house is still very stark at times.  I miss my friend.  I miss boring and simple things like just watching TV together and hearing him threaten that he is “boycotting The Voice” if his contestant gets kicked off.  I miss sharing meals together and our constant banter that to an untrained ear can be mistaken for bickering.  I miss how he brings me coffee in the morning on weekends.  I miss laughing together.  We get to do some of that via Skype, but it’s kind of like enjoying a beautiful sunset through a picture on a computer screen….it is still gorgeous, but you lose so much when you aren’t experiencing it in person.

I had my 50th birthday a few days ago.  That stung a bit to be alone for that, but again, technology to the rescue!  CH sent me beautiful flowers, my son from San Diego sent me a package with some lovely fruit and I had LOADS of very kind messages from all of my friends on Facebook as well as calls from family.  I am so looking forward to brunch with my daughter tomorrow.  We are going to one of my favorite restaurants in the Napa Valley.  I have much to be grateful for.  I find myself waiting with great anticipation for Christmas when my family will be back together.  We always try to make Christmas special, but this will truly be a wonderful one!

I’m not exactly sure the date I will be moving to Germany.  My son is ending his military service in April and I was planning on staying in the US until he got home.  However, it’s looking like he may stay in Southern California, so I don’t really need to wait for that.  My next step is to put a plan together for the move and start getting estimates from moving companies.  Honestly my biggest concern though is our cat.  She is a part of our family which is no different that any other pet lovers, but she is a senior kitty.  By the time I move, she will be almost 14 years old.  She is in relatively good health, but I really worry about her making such a long trip from the US to Germany. Other than for short excursions like going to the vet, she has never really been out of the house. I worry that such a trip would either kill her or really traumatize her.  I have no idea what I’m going to do. Is it weird that in planning such a big move, my main concern is my CAT?! I don’t know. 🙂  We also have a dog, but I think he will do OK on the journey.  He is also CH’s baby, so there is no way he would leave him behind.  If anyone has any experience with transporting animals….companies that you’ve used and liked, stories about how your pets managed the transition, etc, I would love to hear them!

When I leave I’m sure I will miss home like crazy.  I think I may need to be medicated when I say goodbye to my kids.  However, I remind myself that I am so lucky that at this stage of my life (super cool and hot 50!) that I have an opportunity to experience something so new and exciting.  In the meantime, I will continue to ride the rollercoaster of transition and try to savor each step of the way!

Tschüß!

My Top 10 Expat Resources for Germany!

TopTEN
When faced with the prospect of picking up your life and moving to another country, it’s hard to know where to start or where to focus your mind.  In general, I believe there are two types of people and ways they handle life’s changes…..free spirits and planners. Many people are somewhere in the middle, but I think we all tend to identify more with one side or the other.  If you’re the type of person that just lets the situation guide you and are easily adaptable without much preparation, this blog post might not be as important to you.  However, if you’re like me and you’re the type of person that looks up restaurant menus before going out to eat, plans daily itineraries for vacations and/or spends hours scouring yelp reviews, I’ve got you covered. (Control freaks Represent!) Here are my Top 10 Expat Resources for Germany! (not in any order of importance)

  1.  Duolingo  https://www.duolingo.com  Visiting or moving to a country where you don’t speak the language can, at the very least, be a challenge and inconvenient.  There are a number of options to learn to speak another language.  Many apps/programs are easy to navigate.  Some of them are pretty pricey, but I found the FREE option of Duolingo to be a great start to give you some basic understanding of German.  The phrase I most frequently used when I recently visited Germany was no surprise….”Sprechen sie English?”  Most people do speak at minimum, some English, but Germans (and I think most people) appreciate it if you at least are making an attempt to learn and speak their language.
  2. Germany vs USA YouTube Channel  https://www.youtube.com/user/AlexandJim  Alex (German) and Jim (American) met through student exchange and their videos are really helpful and a lot of fun.  They have a perfect chemistry between them with friendly banter and exchange of ideas that make you hope that you find a great friend like that in your new country.  They touch on subjects like Stereotypes, Cultural differences, Food, etc.
  3. Get Germanized! YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/MeisterLehnsherr/featured Similar in concept to Germany vs USA, Get Germanized provides short videos explaining Germany from the perspective of a German.  Most of the videos are done by one guy, but at times he has guest spot videos.  He mixes information and comedy in a casual way that is both entertaining and useful.
  4. Expat BLOGS!  Look to the people who have gone before you. Expat Blogs are a wonderful way to get an idea of what other people in similar situations have experienced and learned.  Of course experiences may vary and you have to understand that, but I definitely found the blogs I read to be helpful.  It was the reason I started this blog.  I have some of my favorites listed on my page under “Blogs I Follow”.
  5. Country Specific Expat Websites  http://www.expatica.com/de  http://www.internations.org/germany-expats/guide These websites provide a broad range of content and links to other resources that can keep you busy researching for hours.
  6. Local Expat Websites http://www.expat-karlsruhe.com  This website is specific to the area where I am moving, but I’m sure there are others for different communities within Germany.  These websites provide access to local festivals, schools, shopping, customs and much more. It also connected me with the most valuable resource of all.  See number 7.
  7. Relocation Service  http://www.move-in.info/index.php?id=3&L=1  Again, this resource is specific to the Karlsruhe area, but I am sure similar service is available in other communities.  Trying to find an apartment, set up residency ( I hear the US DMV pales in comparison to the maddening and tedious German bureaucracy), connect utilities, open a bank account, etc in a foreign country with a language that you don’t speak is daunting at best.  We connected with with the owner of move-in.com, Carmen Sax, and she and her staff have been awesome so far.  They showed us around the area and quickly found a wonderful flat for my husband very close to his office.  Without their help, there is no way we would have been able to accomplish that in the short time we had before the move.  There is a cost involved and it’s not cheap, but neither is the assistance of a realtor (in Germany realtors usually charge 2 months basic rent as a commission).
  8. Expat Social Media Groups  Like I mentioned earlier, there are many groups of people out there that have already gone through this and are a wealth of information.  I found Facebook especially helpful.  Just search the term “expat” or “expatriate” and the country (or even city if you are moving to a large city) that you are moving to on Facebook and you will most likely come up with many options.
  9. MeetUp.com http://www.meetup.com/karlsruhe-meetup-group/  One of the things that I worry about when moving to Germany, is not knowing anyone.  We all need friends and social interaction.  Meet-up is a good website to look into to find some like minded people in your area, expat or not.  I was able to find a local English Speaking group near my new area.  They have regular social functions.  I will certainly check them out when I arrive.
  10. Google Translate Functions  When doing online searches for information in Germany you need to actually search in German if you want the best data.  If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, it has a great translate option at the top of the page. By clicking “translate” it will translate all or most of the page for you.  Of course for small amounts of text you can just google “German to English” and a handy translation text box will appear at the top of the page.

I hope you find these tips helpful and if you are a planner like me, I hope it helps keep your blood pressure in check! 😉

Tschüß