Rough first week in Germany -- but can laugh about it now!

On Sunday we went to check on the yard sale page that we have been using constantly to look for cars and houses and found this: -- which I thought was awesome! I had great feelings about Germany and our time here --but as you'll read below, I haven't felt that all week. :) It's been a rough first week in Germany-- but I was reminded today God is watching over us.

Closed Sundays

Shop classifieds on Monday Like it on Tuesday Message the seller Buy stuff Sell something Post more stuff rest

Wide Open Every Other Day

Today is Sunday, the new official yard sale addict recovery day. We're all taking time away from our computers to enjoy the sunshine, life, friends, church, and our families.
If you are having a particularly difficult withdrawal day, here are the yard-sale-addict recovery steps:

  1. Read a book
  2. Take a long walk
  3. Lay on your back and look at the clouds
  4. Make fresh-squeezed lemonade
  5. Find the big dipper
  6. Play tag with your kids
  7. Paint a picture with watercolors
  8. Call a friend you haven't talked to in a while
  9. Call your parents
  10. Then, find more stuff to sell on bookoo!
See you tomorrow!
Your friends,

Adam Austin ~Adam and Austin.

Bookoo re-opens bright and early every Monday morning.
All of us here at bookoo are grateful for you! Thank you for being part of bookoo.

Surprise! Here's a video about happiness:

It's by Shawn Achor, He makes his living by researching and writing about increasing happiness in the world.

YouTube the following: TEDxBloomington - Shawn Achor - "The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance"
The video is 12 1/2 minutes long and well worth it. His answers go right along with what the church asks us to do, but he gives it in a daily "can do" list -- something I needed right now. God is watching over us. Thanks for your prayers in our behalf.

So first let us share our "funny foreigner" moments:

We have been told that if you try to speak German to the Germans (even if you speak poorly), they are very appreciative and more willing to speak English to you.  We have also heard that if you speak English right off the bat, they may not respond well to you, even if they are fluent in English.  Since we got to Germany very unprepared and with little time to study the language we feel obligated but very nervous to try and speak any German to the locals, so here are a few of our missteps:

1: Day 3 in country: We were working up enough courage to call some home owners (who may or may not speak any English) to ask questions and see if we could come look at their rental home. Thinking I could get help from our (obviously Asian looking) housekeepers I asked, "How do you say house in German?" and in her Asian accent she said "I don't speak German"
baaa haa haa, apparently we aren't the only ones!

2: Day 6 in country: The first homeowner we were able to meet with spoke English but had a heavy German accent. He asked me a question and I wanting to reply in German very hurriedly and nervously said "si" -- oh bother, really?! Ha ha ha.  The correct response would have been "Ja."  Wrong language!

3: Day 8 in country:  Most of the cars here in Germany are stick shift/manual. Well we had just switched cars, and had two guys following us (one of them being the guy we were purchasing a car from) coming up a hill and entering a round about, Justin squeeled the tires and you should have seen the look the lady going by gave us. Yep, we scared her pretty bad. Ha ha ha

4. Day 8 in country: This one I have pictures of. We had been warned of blowing things up with the outlets. Well, I did it. Luckily it was only with Sam's night light we got at a white elephant exchange. :) I plugged it in and "BANG!" It blew very loudly. In the hotel they have Americanized outlets, but this wasn't one of them. I learned my lesson - there are converters and transformers, you may need both for American plug ins. :)  I will be reading the plugs from here on out.

5.  Day 9 in country: After a week in Germany we still hadn't left the base for a meal.  One evening while driving around car shopping we were hungry and decided to grab something but were all out of adventurous beans.  We saw a Pizza Hut and decided that it couldn't be that different, and they probably would speak English.  When we walked in we realized that Pizza Hut's here are a little more fancy with waitresses, menu's and the whole bit.  Sure enough they spoke English and after we awkwardly stood inside the doorway for a few minutes were told that in Germany you pretty much always seat yourself.  After we were seated we were asked what we would like to drink.  We asked for 3 waters, and the waitress asked if we wanted a small or large.  We said large.  When we got the bill each one was 3.40 Euro or over $4.00.  After spending $12.00 on 3 glasses of water and over $45.00 on a pizza and two salads, with 19% sales tax (yes 19 percent) we will be doing a little homework before eating out again! Some research we did do when we got home revealed that here you don't drink the same tap water that you bath in...even though it is entirely safe (we have been doing it.)  The beer and soda is cheaper than water.  What?!

As you can see each and every day is full of learning experiences and big decisions.  Although looking back some of it seems kind of funny, I won't lie, our first week was rough. All we heard before arriving was how wonderful Germany is. We were figuring it would be overwhelming when we got here and it was a little worse than that. The jet lag mixed with the stress of trying to understand and immediately integrate the German housing, transportation, cell phone, utility, banking, and healthcare systems as well as the new culture and all in a language we don't know a lick of had Justin and I on edge. Sam didn't feel at home and so we all felt very uncomfortable and irritable with each other.

So here now is a summary of our first week in Germany:

It all started Saturday when our flight was delayed. This put us on a little time crunch to catch our 2nd flight. We arrived in Baltimore and ran to the check in without getting our bags, scared they would give away our seats if we were late. Yes our next terminal was about 3/4 of a mile speed walk. Well, they said they couldn't check us in without our bags but that our seats wouldn't be given away. We grabbed a cart and started to book it. Sam wanted a ride, he reached out to point to a hanging airplane and fell off, smacking his forhead on the floor. I stayed back with Sam to console him and Justin went to get all 6 checked backs (they weren't little bags either).

We took them to the counter and checked them all in. The lady at the desk seeing Sam asked if we had a stroller or a car seat. Justin then realized he had forgotten the car seat. So, by now we only had 20 minutes until they stopped checking bags. Ha ha, so he sprinted the distance, and by the end was sweating bullets. :)
 Did we get 8 hours of sleep on our through the night flight? No WAY, not even close. :)
On our first flight it took Sam about 2 hours to fall asleep and get his "nap", we were hoping for the same or better since this flight was leaving way past his bedtime. Nope, we fought him for a good 3 hours. The stewardess' were making sure we had drinks, food, etc and kept the cabin lights up for those 3 hours which didn't help Sam fall asleep. He finally fell asleep with 4 hours of the flight to go. Justin and I got about 2 or 3 hours of sleep. We arrived and it was 2pm in Germany. We waited in several lines for passports and such. Then our sponsor Robin was there to greet us. He called me by name and I'm sure I gave him a look like, "How do you know me?!" He took us over to the hotel, which was another line, checked us in and made two trips to our hotel. We unloaded and went to go get dinner. Dinner? We just had two dinners on the plane!! I was not hungry, but we ate anyways to try and prepare ourselves for hopefully going to sleep soon. He dropped Sam and me off at the hotel and Justin did a grocery shopping trip at the Commissary.

I don't remember what time we crashed but I do remember Sam waking up at 1:30 wide awake, ready to play. And I felt wide awake too. Weird feeling. We made it through the night but sure felt tired the next day.

Monday: Justin went to a day of briefings, Robin gave him a ride. Sam and I were here in the hotel trying to get on a schedule. There was a big playground right behind our hotel that we played on.
Yes, I took a nap with him.

Tuesday: Was pretty similar. I was getting antsy to get out. We didn't pack a stroller -- ha ha, not smart. Robin let us borrow his car for the week. Super nice! I started car and house shopping online.

Wednesday: Justin went in for a few hours, we caught up with our parents and went to the loan locker to grab a frying pan, pot and stroller to be able to cook in the hotel. I was still searching for houses and cars. Not finding the best deal for what we want on either.

Thursday: We were feeling a little stress by now on the car and house search. We didn't really know where to start. There were 2 websites we could see pictures of houses and then there was a huge list of houses we could search from too. None of the houses with pictures had all our needs, and the others didn't have enough info to know. So, I prepped to start calling. Quickly I wrote down 2 sentences in German: Gutentag - good day, Ich Heisen - My name is - Melissa, Sprecken sie English? - Do you speak english? The first 4 didn't answer and I didn't leave a message. One finally did and we set up the appt. And then I left a few messages.  We did open a bank account on base, one we could get dollars out of. Then we got our phones working. Yeah!
We grabbed dinner at the BX and ran into a family we knew from pilot training in Oklahoma. They had just arrived the Tuesday before us and so had tips for us. They had just signed on a house and told us their strategy as well as their 2nd choice house. We wrote it down and scheduled an appt. for Saturday. 

Friday: We had made a plan to head out and see as many houses as possible, but didn't make a real good plan. Sam, as many of you know, is at the stage of not liking the car seat. Well it wasn't any different here, and being a lot behind on sleep made it a screaming and whining experience. Justin was feeling stressed (having a 2 hour old German drivers liscense) with all the different road signs(in German), aggressive German drivers, round-abouts, narrow streets, and following the GPS, all in a car we were borrowing. So it was not a good mix. We gave up after a few houses.
I sat down after Sam went to bed to make a real plan. We had to give it another try and we had 2 appointments to see the inside of houses.

Our first appt fell through, he was trying to get a hold of me but I had left my phone at the hotel. Oops! The second appt was for the 2nd choice home for our friends from Oklahoma. ;) We had time in between to go put Sam down for a nap, but he wasn't awake by the time we needed to leave. So justin went w/o me, ugh!! But he called and said it has everything we want. Sam was awake by then so he came and got us to go see it. We took a tour, talked in the backyard and scared of not finding something better we decided to take it. It was the only house we had been to!!! But it meets all our needs, a few wants, and it's practical and financially smart. We're happy with it! Every once in a while we wonder what other houses are out there.

Our house is a little smaller than we imagined but met all our needs, wants, plus a couple extra bonuses! Obviously we had some high expectations. :) Justin and I always want to get the best bang for our buck! So we hope we did.  It has 4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, and a lovely backyard with 2 apple trees, a cherry tree and a currant bush. A couple cement pads and yard work to be done!

One of our favorite parts is that we are one house away from a beautiful old church/cathedral that has bells every hour -- we may come to hate the bells but love the location. It's in a small town called Huetschenhausen - good luck remembering that. :) We're about a 12 minute drive from base through other small towns.
Our car is a Blue '97 BMW 318i - has a little more guts than the car we're borrowing and still great gas mileage -- at least that's what the guy told us. The guy was super funny and nice -- we feel like we could call him back and say "hey, What the heck?" if it's a lemon.
Whew, I think all of us slept better that night than we had all week. It might be because our body clocks might finally be catching up to the new time thing too, or that Sam let me sleep in with Justin and slept through the night! :)  The time change was a lot rougher than we thought. It's crazy to wake up at 1:30am and feel like you're ready to go for the day. Or you stay up until 1:30am and don't feel like going to bed.

Sunday was a day of peace, or at least a sigh of relief. A welcomed renewal we all needed for our next week. 

Here are pictures of our house before moving in. 
Our door to our garage- it's more like a shed. :) no automatic door 

The front door of our home. 

Front of our house. 

Back of our house

Master bath 

One of the 4 rooms - white tile all downstairs and would laminate flooring upstairs 


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