I have started teaching myself German. I want to take an actual classroom course, but between kid stuff during the day and Andy’s unpredictable schedule, it’s hard to find the time. So I bought myself an audio and book guide. Everyone stationed here told me that many Germans speak English, so learning the language was not a priority. They were not wrong; there are many English speakers here. At the same time, I hate not being able to understand people. I especially hate not being able to read German, since I like shopping for groceries and house needs on the economy. I wish I would have learned some of the language before I moved here.
This made me think of all the other little things I have learned or figured out in our 1.5 months here so far. New things are neither good nor bad, just things you need to adapt to. Here are a few of my new discoveries:
– Expect the weather to constantly shift. I do not know if this is characteristic of only this region, but the weather can be crazy! One minute it’s sunny, then pouring rain, then sunny again – in a span of twenty minutes. Today, I took Emma for a walk. It started out just overcast, but then a light sprinkling turned into a downpour. I didn’t have an umbrella and was at least ten minutes away from home, even if I ran! Lesson learned (and a good one from the Girl Scouts) – be prepared.
– Germany is much more technology advanced and friendly than Italy was. However, they still prefer cash currency to credit. Many places here will not take your debit or credit card, so you should always have Euro. I was all the way to the checkout line at the local store yesterday before I realized I only have 5 Euro on me. Oops!
– Recycling is important. REALLY important. Germans do not waste anything!
– Laws and rules here are also really important. If there is a speed limit, it is strictly adhered. If a store closes at 1700, it will close at that time. Any rules, no matter how important or trivial, are followed. It’s refreshing, but after coming from Italy where things are a little more relaxed, it’s been challenging as well!
– A “bitte” and a smile can go a long way. Just attempting to communicate or to follow local customs goes a long way with the locals.
– When all else fails, bring the girls. I know that sounds weird, but the Germans love my kids. It helps that they are pretty well behaved (most of the time). Wherever I go, my girls are smiled at, their cheeks are pinched, their heads are patted, and they are given candy or stickers. Addie made friends with the German workers at the recycling yard the other day; they loved how she was throwing bottles into the containers and shook the man’s hand! Using the children seems wrong, but it does help sometimes!
With every new home and location, we have to learn new things. Living in different countries is even more difficult, but it can also be fun and interesting. We are certainly enjoying our new discoveries and lessons here!