Friday, September 17, 2010

Wanna Be Friends?

Along with blogging and staying online with my favorite time suck, facebook, I've also been trying to chat it up in chat rooms to fish out some other Mommies in Ramstein/Landstuhl area. Then I'm planning on pestering and grilling them with questions! Nah, just kidding I won't pester too much.

The truth is, I'm a little worried about my first day there. We'll be staying off post in temporary lodging. This is a hotel with a kitchen, laundry, fridge, and other things we would need for an extended stay in a hotel. The very next morning, Mike is expected to check in at a meeting, leaving the boys and me in Germany by ourselves... no friends, no family, zero, zilch, nada. The good news is that this country is not some kind of war-torn crime-ridden land. I hear that it's the Japan of Europe. In other words, very safe and pretty friendly. I figure if I can find out where a playground is and it's not raining, we'll be OK. The wonderful thing about us humans is our resourcefulness and ability to adapt to new and unfamiliar situations. Plus, I tend to think the best of people. No matter where someone is from, it's natural to want to help or guide a person to the right path. Yes, there are icky people in this world but they are the minority. Ideally though, I'm hoping that there is an active spouse group in Mike's command with some mamas that can possibly meet me in this new world I'm entering. Another option would be to just tag along with the hubs to base and hang out there with the boys until he's done with whatever mandatory business he has to attend to.

So, here I am pondering what my first steps will be in Germany. What business do I need to attend to first? I assume once we land, we'll want to have Euros & of course hopefully all of our luggage! Anything else. If anyone is out there reading this and is located in Germany, what made your first day or couple of days there more comfortable? Is there anything you wish was done differently?

1 comment:

  1. I know we don't know each other, but I went to High School with Mike. I read this post and wanted to share. Last year, our lives were changed in an instant and I was suddenly living in Germany.

    What I would have done different:

    1. There are two things I had a hard time adjusting to - their salad dressings (really watery and yogurt based) and laundry detergent. I know that sounds funny, but when I came back to the US - I stocked up on Ranch and Tide to bring back to Germany with me. Just realize there will be some strange items you didn't realize you would want.

    2. I am not sure if you have any religious background, but finding an English speaking church was critical for my survival. It was such a strong community and I made the best friends there. They had women groups and mom's with kids all from America and all over there basically because of their husbands.

    I tried other women's groups from the internet, but found the one I really liked through an international non-denominational church.

    3. I also connected with people from

    I met women who had kids, wanted to go for walks, book clubs, etc...

    4. If I had been over there longer - I would have joined a gym and taken a Germany speaking class or found a speaking partner.

    The first day I was over there I remember:

    Being cold - they keep their heat low because of how expensive electricity is over there. I was in a place where the landlord controlled the heat and I left the oven on and open so I could keep the kitchen warm. I know that wasn't environmentally friendly, but I was freezing.

    I also found out that they smoke a LOT over there. We asked for a non-smoking apartment, but to that landlord that meant smoking was optional in the kitchen. All the furniture and belongings smelled like smoke.

    The internet was interesting over there too. Try not to have high expectations and assume it is like the US. I assumed they were as "connected" as the United States - But my personal experiences were not like Comcast or Verizon. My landlord had one internet connection for the complex of 6 apartments and he had a wireless router we all had to share. That was what the advertisement meant by "internet" available. The connection was so slow and very poor reception since he lived on the top floor.

    The internet at our next place was "ok" - my landlord one time came up and asked me to get off the internet because I was uploading photos and I was making his connection slow - they like to share the connection in apartments with landlords - so it is good to ask if it will be your own connection or a shared connection over a wireless / dial up router! - it just isn't like getting an apartment in the US with internet. I was more surprised about this and wish that someone had set my standards lower so I would be impressed when something was better than I expected.

    I LOVED LOVED my time over there, but it had it's ups and downs. I also noticed that I felt guilty when I felt down / culture shock and needed support. My family and friends in the US saw the trip as just one big exciting adventure and it was, but it has it's ups and downs. I wasn't able to relate as easily to people back in the US - that is why I really needed girlfriends over there that have gone through the same things and they could relate.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any questions or if you just want to share something.

    I would also recommend reading the book "Culture Code" - I wished I had read it before I went to Germany. I would have had a different idea of what to expect.

    I think I expected (since everyone looked like me) for it to not be as culturally shocking as it was at times.

    Let me know if there is anything else I can "help" with.