There are many frustrations like trying to figure out my mobile phone (they call them “handys” here) — the voicemail prompts can only be in German; Our bills and bank statements are naturally all in German and the gas company appears to be billing us 384 euros ($540) for 14 days of service; our freezer is so tiny it can only fit a box of popsicles and a couple small items–large frozen pizza? No way. (Many Expats buy an extra freezer and stick it in the basement.) And, somewhere down the line, the Germans decided not to put screens on their household windows. So every time one wants to let in fresh air, you are also given a hefty supply of houseflies, bees, and yesterday we even had a large butterfly. The butterfly visit was actually a fun surprise.
But, every day also brings satisfaction I’ve made progress in our new world. I can now drive my manual car to and from Nora’s school (she’s attending camp there this week) and have not had another sighting of Frau Zilla. Gary is still in the seat beside me offering advice, but starting Sunday, I will be flying solo. I think I’m ready but keeping fingers crossed. And, I think Gary’s ready too–he didn’t move to Germany to become a driving instructor.
And, our house is coming together and starting to feel like home. I still have some things to rearrange and the pictures need to be hung. Another quirk of German life is that the light fixtures (like on the ceilings and the walls) disappear with each occupant. We were lucky because the people that lived in our house before actually left a few for us (thanks, Regine!). They are from Belgium but lived in America before and adopted some of the American style of leaving those items with the house. However, understandably, they couldn’t leave all of them because they moved back to Belgium, which has the same custom as Germany.
We were also fortunate our house already had a dishwasher and refrigerator. The Germans typically take those items with them too. And, best of all, our house has built-in closets. Why am I excited about that? Well, German homes do not have closets…at all! Germans buy their closets and they take the closets with them wherever they go. We still do not have enough closet space and I need to buy at least one because right now there is no place to keep our coats.