It’s been six months of living in Bavaria, Germany. Well, technically it’s been five months and two weeks since we had to quarantine for two weeks when we first arrived. But six months of being somewhere is usually the magic number. With this being my seventh move with the U.S. Military, I’ve found that it usually takes at least six months to feel settled.
I don’t know if you know this, but I actually lived in this same part of Bavaria ten years ago. So in some ways, it wasn’t like moving to a completely new area – which is pretty helpful when you move abroad. The military installation that my husband is stationed at is also really, really small. That is up there with being one of the biggest changes; living in a small, rural area. I literally drive around tractors, daily, on the way to take B to his pre-school. There are farms e v e r y w h e r e. So even though I have lived in this area before, this is the first time taking #thetombros overseas – so the first time being a mom while living abroad. And also the first time I’ve ever moved to a new country while there was a global pandemic going on.
So it’s been six months, but we just went into our first official German lockdown, so…
Let start with where I am now and work backwards. Germany just (as of today) went into a lockdown. Only essential stores are open, everyone has a curfew, gatherings (if any) are really limited, and schools went on winter break early and won’r return to in-person until, at least, January 10th.
Thankfully I’ve learned that you need to prepare things early over here – due to the shipping times if you want something shipped from the States because you can’t find it here – so my Christmas shopping is done. Even stocking stuffers! With this lockdown, there’s no running to even a similar-style German stores, so my preparedness paid off; I think. There definitely was a little anxiety going into the official first day of lockdown due to a bad case of the what ifs. But it did give me comfort that Amazon.de is still up and running, in case I need something. And the biggest it will be okay is that all wine, beer and alcohol is sold in essential stores, which aren’t shutting down.
This is a side note, but guys, I buy so much champagne. Like bottles and bottles…. It’s literally my drink of choice (what does this say about me?) and it’s SO CHEAP! One of my favorite bottles of Prosecco is 4€!! There are other bottles of champagne that I like, that cost 2€. When I’m feeling like it’s a special night, I might spring for a bottle that cost 8€. Throw in a 10€ bottle of Aperol, and I’m drinking an Aperol spritz on a Tuesday. Don’t even get me started on the minimal cost of wine and beer. I will be wrecked when I move back to the States…
I moved into my house right away, and a few months later, I had ALL of my household goods delivered. Incase someone was worried, operation #savemycouch was a success! All of my furniture made it in one piece, and I am SO happy that I bought my bed and bedroom pieces before we moved (here is what my bedroom looked like before). Although I have found just the prettiest buffet over here, Germans just don’t have the same bohemian Southwest vibe that I love.
Both of my boys started school back in early fall. My oldest attends a Department of Defense school and walked into First Grade (wearing a mask) like it was nothing, and he’s been a happy camper ever since. My youngest started a Waldkindergarten – a German preschool, literally set in the forest, that is outside all year round. His circle time is in the woods, sitting in an actual circle, on a log, in all German. They make fires and drink kinder punch (like gluhwein, but without the alcohol). They’ll cook pancakes and porridge. And the crafts that B bring’s home are heavily influenced by the forest – chestnuts, evergreen clippings, pods, sticks and sticks and sticks for days. Plus he has the best teachers. I couldn’t love this experience for him more!
There were whispers of Covid getting worse, so my family and I took every opportunity we had to travel. I made it to Vienna, Austria, Venice, Italy, Berchesgarten, Germany and the Jugenfrau Region in Switzerland. (I still have the best photos and blog posts to share with you for those last two trips.) Travel was the main reason why my husband and I pushed for an assignment in Germany. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an experience in itself to live here, but traveling was the pull. So thanks Covid-19 for literally ruining everything. (I know I”m not the only one!)
This one especially hurts around Christmas, because the one positive – being able to travel – isn’t even an option. It was literally impossible for us to fly back to the States for the holidays (AND I’m not sure I’d want to quarantine again after we came back anyway). We will celebrate Christmas – in the country that does Christmas epically – on a lockdown. And it will be the first time since 2012 that we haven’t spent Christmas with some family. Not having an option to drown that sorrow while sipping champagne in front of the Eiffel Tower is depressing.
Still, I am very grateful for the travels we were able to do and I am so hopeful for 2021 and the adventures that await.
Once I was off quarantine, it was just a few weeks before I noticed a few noticeable differences in life here versus in the States.
- You actually need to carry Euros around, even with Covid. America might be paperless, but Germany is not. And sometime paper money won’t even cut it; you need coins too. Like, I will be purchasing a coin purse.
- Despite it working a lot of the time (and it is my most used app!), you can not always trust Google Translate. That app is how we ended up with a plate of food, literally covered in gelatin. And carpet that only covered 1/3 of the area it was suppose too. (But, to be fair, math is hard.)
- I knew this, but defiantly bares stating, that literally all other drinks are cheaper than water. And the water taste different, so always, always bring your water bottle. And an extra one.
- Everyone still smokes in Germany.
- Eis (ice cream) is still delicious. As is the plethora of Haribo gummies found everywhere, in all the kinds. My favorite is the sour, pasta-style gummies.
- In Bavaria, there are actually tractors that drive on the road. Taking the drivers test, there were a lot of scenarios that involved tractors and I remember thinking that can’t possibly be real life. But is, everyday.
- If you ask anyone if you can speak in English, they will always say “ein bisschen” “a little”, and be very discouraging about it. But they 95% of the time, know enough to be able to communicate with you. (Also, I fully support learning the language of the country you live in. It does take time!)
- You always, always need to have a bag on you. Always. You will never be given one; ever.
- I love the Aldi over here, but I don’t think I will ever be prepared for them literally throwing my groceries at me. I even skip the bag and put it right back into the cart, and I still can’t keep up!
It’s been six months since moving to Germany, and it’s been a wild ride. The pandemic has definitely affected life (as I know it has for everyone) and really, for me, the impact on travel has been the most frustrating. But I remain hopeful. Hopefully that there is light at the end of this pandemic. That life goes back to a better normal – but a normal that doesn’t include mask, but lots and lots of hugs. And that I can t r a v e l.
As I write this, I’m actually thinking that I haven’t had a Käse Brezel (cheese pretzel) in the last few days and I n e e d one. If that isn’t an indicator that I now live in Germany, what is?! That and I’ve come to the conclusion that I love a good Pils. So when it comes to beer (and champagne and wine!) and carbs, I’m living my best life over here!