Where Do I Start?!

I haven’t posted anything in awhile, I think mostly because I have just been incredibly overwhelmed with working and preparing for this huge move by myself while CH is in Germany.  Every time I think I’ve made progress, something comes along to set me back.  (Like a busted water heater flooding my garage the day before Thanksgiving!)

To start off with the good news, we found a fabulous apartment in Karlsruhe that is exactly what I had in mind when I thought of living in Europe….a historical building with 14ft ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors, balconies, ceiling medallions, an updated bathroom and yes, it even has a KITCHEN! (something I have learned is a rare commodity in Germany, which I don’t think I will ever understand.)  If anyone has any ideas or knows of websites to help me brainstorm on a historic European with a modern flare decorating style, let me know!

Well, that’s about it for the good news.  The rest is not bad news, but it’s a long list of never ending tasks that seem to have completion that remains elusive.  Did I mention I just found out I have mice in my house? (well, in one bathroom)  yeah….awesome.  I have a feeling the mice colluded and laid in wait until CH was gone in order to make their debut.  Little #@$#%&*!  We’ve lived in this house for 7 years and have never had a problem with the vermin.  I thought maybe I just had one singular mouse.   We don’t use this bathroom because it needs work done.  It has been closed off for a year. Last week though my daughter noticed some mouse poop evidence of maybe one mouse in there, so I put down a container of mice poison.  I love that stuff because they eat it and then go somewhere else for their final moments in this world.  I had a contractor over yesterday to give me an estimate regarding the work I need done on the bathroom. We opened the bathroom door and Good Lord! it was like the morning after a mice frat house party in there!  Let’s just say the small amount of “evidence” multiplied greatly…..and the container of poison?….ALL GONE and not only that, but they dragged the container across the room and flipped it over like they were giving me a big middle finger!  Little $*#@$^&!  Anyway, the contractor found where they were coming in.  They had eaten through an opening to a pipe.  He did a temporary fix and I hope that is the end of that.  If I see one actually inside of MY living space, I may have to evacuate and burn this baby down!

Speaking of fury creatures, two that I am fond of have occupied the majority of my thoughts regarding the move, our dog Preston and our cat Angel.

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They are super cute and don’t look like they could cause me any concern, right?!  Well Preston is neurotic, but still cute.  Moving animals is not easy though.  Moving animals to another country is NOT EASY and it is very expensive.  Both of them are about the same age….around 14 years old.  Angel is an indoor cat and other than a few quick escapes, the only time she has been out of the house is to the vet. She HATES being in a car!  She also has a sensitive tummy.  I just really don’t think she would make it through what would be required to get her from California to Germany.  I don’t think that would be fair to her.  So I’m wracked with worry over what is going to happen to her.  I got her as a new kitten only a few weeks old.  She is an awesome cat.  I’m really sad about it.  I’m trying to do what’s right for her.  I have a few possibilities for a home for her and I’m hoping one of them works out.  I will miss her very much though.  Then there’s Preston.  Preston will be able to make the journey, but I still worry about him in the belly of a plane for so long, thinking we have abandoned him.  I’m also worried about having him in an apartment. He’s never lived in an apartment before.  What if he barks?  (he doesn’t bark much…unless he sees a cat outside in our yard, but he’s a dog.)  Where are dogs allowed to do their “business” in a city?  Of course I would pick up any poop, but are dogs allowed to pee on the sidewalk?  CH thinks I’m weird for worrying about things like this, but that is just me.  My brain never stops spinning.  It’s exhausting really, but we all have our crosses to bear.

Then there is the actual moving/storing of our belongings.  We have a large 4 BR home and decades full of furniture and life.  Being married to someone that works in the tech industry has taught me that no job lasts forever, so there is likelihood that we will come home at some point. We are going to rent our house out, but I don’t want to come home and have to refurnish this entire house.  Additionally, it is expensive to ship things and we are cognizant of the fact that everything that we bring over will have to come back or we will have to get rid of it.  Lots of juggling of priorities.  Searching for an international mover has been frustrating, to say the least.  For one thing….you don’t get your stuff for MONTHS when it ships….that’s with all of them.  I looked at the reviews of many moving companies and it was nightmare after nightmare of problems that people had.  I know you have to weigh reviews, but these were really bad.  There was one company though that actually did have good reviews.  They came over a few weeks ago and took inventory of my things and were supposed to have the estimate to me within a few days.  Over a week later when I hadn’t heard anything, I emailed the guy.  He said he just found out he was going to be a new dad and so his work has suffered.  Huge congrats on the baby…seriously, but not a good start to this business relationship.  Is that mean of me?  Probably, but I’ve got things to do!

I just put formal notice in at work and my last day will be Feb 5th.  It will be so much easier to manage everything when I’m no longer working.  I can’t wait until I’m in my new place in Germany, enjoying a nice glass of wine and a big exhale!

Bis bald!  🙂

 

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My Top 10 Expat Resources for Germany!

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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