You Can’t Have One Without The Other, sing it!

I had a very busy and social week. First, I went to an ENT or HNO, which yes, I count as social because I must exercise my German as well as wander by my favorite cake shop. Anyway, I also joined a group of lovely ladies for a birthday celebration, and finally met with fellow (and far more successful!) blogger/author/writer/teacher Liv, a friend I just automatically connected with and absolutely adore. It was lovely. And since I cannot go anywhere without my baby tag-along O, it was a welcome change from our normal routine of baby/mommy playtime for her, exhaustion for me. People held her, she got to show off her full-face smiles she loves to give, and I could finally eat cake and drink tea without so many pauses. I got to explore the new Dunkin Donuts, just for familiarity, and try out a new café. The sun was shining, there was laughter, baby O was wonderfully behaved (not that she isn’t normally, but I’m always afraid she might get upset and I won’t be able to comfort her, it hasn’t happened yet, but you never know!), and importantly, I wasn’t an awkward.

In September, I will have been in Germany for 3 years, and I have exactly 1 German friend. Sure, I have (and am extremely grateful for!) American, Australian, Swiss-Austrian friends, but only 1 German friend. Does anyone else think that’s weird? And It’s not for the lack of trying, although perhaps I’m not quite sure how and where to meet Germans in similar situations as myself outside of work—- I did meet some lovely ladies at the hospital, but no real follow-up with that. Yet I was struck by an undeniable fact recently; I will live in Germany most likely indefinitely, thus I have to start making this my home. I can’t do this half-way either, or just make statements about it and then go back into my shell. No, no, I have to learn better German, you know the kind of German where you can have conversations longer than 2-3 minutes, and I have to get myself out there in some ways. I have to say yes to invitations, find and explore the things that interest me, and appreciate this enormous opportunity.

Two weeks ago, I went into a coffee shop alone, and decided to buy a slice of cake. This was big for me. When I went to order, I became a bit nervous as the line behind me grew, and i was troubled about making a decision and ordering correctly. This is something that happens a lot to me over here. I ended up ordering 6 slices of various cakes and finding a fun acquaintance with the shop lady. Also, I lied and said I was hosting a party to justify why I needed so much cake out of embarrassment, but that’s neither here nor there. Since then I’ve gone to the shop for more cake (thankfully not 6 each time—- that would be rough on my already non-svelte physique), I’ve made small-talk with the lady, AND I’ve responded to older lady inquires about O. In German. Huzzah!

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s O, and maybe it’s that I met so many kind and warm-hearted people, but my perspective is different and changing. I’m seeing more of the city, talking more, making small steps toward embracing Germany. I want to sign O up for a swim classes, and I want to take her on long walks with stops for picnics through the park. And I’ll stop being weird, and invite friends along. Also, I want to explore different areas of Germany to find which place might be acceptable for our forever home. If you’ve got tips about where to go, I’m finally ready for them!

Thanks for reading!

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12 thoughts on “You Can’t Have One Without The Other, sing it!

  1. First I want to say that I really liked your Blog and I love reading about people writing about their experience with living in Germany. I found you through Liv actually. Second, yeah your kind of struggles sound familiar to me. But the Dutch language is not that different from German so my step is not as big as yours. But anyway I still have the problem that I am afraid to talk Dutch. I can understand it pretty well by now (In May I am here for 2 years) but I am really afraid of talking. I also have the problem that I barely have Dutch friends, but it gets better by now 🙂 But most of the time we speak English because it is more convenient as there are also other foreigners around that don’t speak Dutch at all. But since I moved here I realized how hard it must be to live in Germany without really speaking German. I hope it will get better for you! And you should defiantly check out north Germany for living places! I prefer it over the south even when they have worse weather there 😉

    1. Thank you so much for your comment!! Liv is an amazing writer, and I’m so grateful she sent readers my way.I think living anywhere where the language is not your own, can be really really difficult. I’m trying; it’s not just the language, it’s everything together that makes living abroad a bit overwhelming! I know you know what I mean. I will definitely check out the north; I have a feeling I’ll be heading up there within the next few months at any rate, and I’ll post about it.

  2. If you want to explore other parts of Germany, what about renting a caravan or a campervan (e. g. via ebay) and go to places that might interest you. Should be easier to get in touch with people on a campingground and cheaper than a hotel as well.

    Anyway, congratulations to your (baby-) steps into the right direction.

    1. Thank you, Peter! That form of travel is not my favorite, although my husband would be super excited if I agreed to it. I’ll keep taking my baby-steps!

  3. Baby O is adorable! I’ve said it before, but it needs to be repeated 🙂

    Most of my friends here are German. Some I met because we lived in the same student residence, then one friend from the residence introduced me to some of his colleagues who ended up becoming part of the group. Up until about 2 years ago I didn’t really have any friends of my own though – the only people I really saw were friends of my boyfriend from his university days.

    1. I think when you have common routines where you are thrust into social interactions, it helps to make more friends. While I’m proactively trying to make friends now, it’s not that easy, know what I mean? And thanks, O is just…. awesome! Thanks for your comment!

  4. Ich freue mich,dass Sie langsam in die Kultur und in die Sprache instensiver einsteigen. As your language proficiency grows, you will find the people will more receptive and welcoming, just as you have experienced already. Babies are good conversation starters, too. I know you are probably tired of me harping on Berlin, but I can’t urge you enough to go take a look at it. Berlin was fantastic in my day when there was only West Berlin to play in, but now I hear it’s the favorite city for young people like you and your husband. It also has one of the largest expat communities in the world. It’s a beautiful city and the surrounding countryside is nice, too. The suburbs are very pleasant. I lived in Lichtenrade, Spandau, Kreuzberg, and Charlottenburg at various times, and I liked them all. Lots of rivers, lakes and forests in the city center itself. Tons of culture and things to do. Berlin is renowned for its climate (Berliner Luft). Winter is very cold, but the air is clear most of the time. The public transportation system is one the best in the world and cheap. As a matter of fact, living costs are also very cheap, if you research it out. Look at rentals on the net.
    Anyway, think it over and let me know if you go up there and tell me what you think. I hope I haven’t oversold the place. Best to you and your husband. Jim

    1. I know you love Berlin. I promise I will head back there and tell you about what’s happening up there. Thanks for the comment and suggestion, Jim!

  5. All the best to your Baby. About struggling with German: just relax. Take the language – how hard it might be – just as a tool to get in touch with others. That’s my experience (I’m 63) from living in various places being forced to learn English (so so) and French (3p). Cht along and enjoy meeting people 🙂

  6. Hello Allie!
    I’m planning to move to Germany next year to finally (after 16 years) be with the love of my life and I find reading blogs of expats very interesting. Right now I am one myself, from Brazil but studying in Kentucky and despite loving it here, I can tell you I have 0 American friends. Acquaintances a lot, but a friend friend? All foreigners… Even speaking the language in a level I hope is fluent and studying at a university. I was really interested about your pregnancy story and your baby is absolutely cute! Maybe you guys decide to move to good old Saxony? I’ve been there twice and I thought people were extremely nice. Hugging type nice. I read your stories about being pushed and other german niceness and there, even though I stayed for only a few days, people were very nice. Maybe it has to do with them being in East Germany, but despite being used with the extreme southern hospitality and politeness here in KY, I thought everyone there was normal. I even got hand kisses from gentleman when they realized I didn’t understand a word of what they were saying!
    I’ll keep following your blog as I liked your perspective from Germany and I hope you enjoy it there! ;o)

    1. Thank you for your kind words and understanding. Yeah being foreign— it’s tough work. I think I should try to look around Germany to find my future home. Kentucky would be like an entire new place to me too– I’m from the north and whenever I’ve traveled south, I was wowed by how different we are. Thanks for reading, and I hope there are future posts you can relate to!

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