Adjusting to Germany

So I didn’t really write this summer. I’ve been living with Andy in Freiburg since early July, and I definitely had enough I could’ve written about over the past two months. But everyone reacts differently to stress, and apparently this summer my way of dealing was to shut down. I spent the first couple of weeks dealing with minor physical ailments, registering with the city, getting my resident visa, picking a language school, and going furniture shopping with Andy. Even that felt like too much some days. My brain just didn’t want to function. Sometimes trying to decide on lunch was too much, and I found myself having a mini meltdown in a cafe while Andy ate his food and wondered, is she really crying because they didn’t have fries today?

adjusting to life in Germany - bed delivered on a bike
this is how our new bed was delivered

A few weeks after I arrived, we decided we needed a weekend away to de-stress a little. After some research on destinations easily tackled in a weekend, we spent one night in Feldkirch, Austria, and then the next afternoon took a bus to Liechtenstein for a night. Both were really beautiful, and it was just the relaxing weekend we needed. Andy wrote two great posts about Liechtenstein, check them out here and here.

adjusting to life in Germany - Feldkirch, Austria
Feldkirch, Austria
adjusting to life in Germany - Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein – view from our hotel

German class was stressful at first because of the way immersion classes are taught. It’s not like learning a foreign language in high school, where you learn the language from English. There are no direct translations in an immersion class. It’s supposed to force your brain to start working in the new language quicker, plus there would be no good way for them to pick a language to teach from. In any given week (I was enrolled for 4 weeks) my class ranged from 12 people down to 6 people, all from different countries. I was the only native English speaker. I had classmates from Spain, Mexico, Belarus, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, and Brazil. Some of them did speak decent English, but I mostly tried to speak Spanish with the girl from Mexico and the 3 from Spain when we were outside of class or trying to help each other in class. After the first frustrating week of barely knowing what was going on, things did get easier though.

I went to lunch with people from school every so often, and one day when I asked some of my classmates about lunch, they said they were going to Strasbourg, France right after class. So I joined them. How awesome that I can just spontaneously go to France for 4 hours? Even if it did take us that long for the roundtrip train journey. The whole time we were there, I smiled at the oddity of going to France with people I met in a German class and speaking mostly Spanish.

adjusting to life in Germany - Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, France

Andy and I also went to Spain for a week for Tomatina. You can read more about that here and here, and I will have another post about Valencia coming soon. Andy and I both ended up getting sick towards the end of that trip, and spent the following week fighting sinus issues and fevers. We had plenty that needed to be done around the house (painting, organizing, a few remaining renovation-related things) but it has been unproductive.

So it hasn’t exactly been the summer I expected. But I think I’m slowly learning that expectations aren’t always good to have. Sometimes it’s better to go into something without any expectations. I think my summer would’ve been a lot less stressful if I went into it thinking, I have no idea what’s going to happen, let’s just see what comes my way. Although it does seem odd that I’m trying to embrace a more go-with-the-flow attitude in a country that puts a high value on planning and predictability. Stay tuned as I crawl out of my stress bubble.

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