Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hallo München!

We arrived in Germany on Monday evening and went through the initial meltdown phase in trying to establish our household in yet another local.  This post has actually been really hard to write.  I am well aware of my limitations in preparation for this trip and in no way think the American way the only right way to do things, but yet my emotions and experiences over the past few days have left me feeling quite homesick and uncomfortable.  While coming to terms with the language barrier and the difference of life around me, my feelings when written on paper seem to convey a bit of entitlement mindset, I really don't espouse.  My efforts to write about our first week here have been a bit futile, but here it is now.

Colorful houses across from the park.

I listened to an interview this evening about traveling as a family.  The woman in the interview mentioned the challenges and discomfort that comes with traveling with children as one of the great rewards or benefits of travel.  I have felt the challenge and discomfort this past week.  It is such a lonely feeling to walk into a store where you can't read a single label, and where the culture isn't an overly friendly one.  Add to that there are not many people that will openly admit to speaking your language and it is really hard to feel comfortable in such a place.  Grocery shopping here had truly been a cultural experience from the lack of cold cereal to the large refrigerator compartment of different sausages and the fact that Colby Jack cheese doesn't exist here (my kids are dismayed).  So many things are different, I have found it hard to see the similarities and joys of the experience.

One of the sidewalks we will be come familiar with.

Our time here has been spent primarily in our apartment.  We were blessed to find a great place in the city, close enough for Hyrum to walk to the office.  There are several stores and parks near by as well so location wise things are great.  I have been to the grocery store everyday and a trip takes quite a while since I have ti try to decipher food labels and put together decent meals.  Yesterday we ventured out to a fabric store, that led us on a grander quest for balloons and glue. (We had a craft project today, more on that later)  We ended up in a department store which was a secret blessing.  We bought a few toys for the kids to help keep them occupied as it gets colder here along with our needed supplies.  Today, we made it to the park after our box of winter coats arrived.

I love Fall.  These leaves were stunning on the side of this building.

It is certainly an adventure and I think it will be a good one.  We're settling in and hopefully next week we'll get out a bit more and explore this city we call home for the next few months.


charity eyre wright said...

you're wonderful heather. it's so hard i bet!! but it will get better. we can't wait to be there with you!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through Charity's and I just wanted to tell you that it is normal to experience a culture shock when living abroad, especially in a country where you do not speak the language and everything is different at first. I hope things get easier eventually.
About grocery shopping and foods: We have some amazing foods here- especially the many kinds of bread (try Brezeln,too!) and I am sure your kids will start enjoying different kinds of cheese like Gouda or Emmenthaler because there are so many yummier cheese options than Colby Cheese- in my opinion ;)
I hope grocery shopping gets easier for you. Have you tried going to bigger grocery stores like "Kaufland"? They have a big variety and even international stuff, whereas stores like "Aldi" and "Lidl" only carry certain food items and have little variety (but the food is generally cheaper).
I think it is true that Germans are not as outgoing as Americans and seem unfriendly (I had a reverse culture shock when returning home from the US because everybody in Germany seemed so unfriendly) BUT we are not! We are just a little reserved but Germans are genuine people. I am sure that they will help you out in English, once you ask them to speak English with you. We have all learned at least a little bit of English in school and in a diverse city like Munich, you will find a lot of people who can speak your language. Enjoy this beautiful city and your experience in Germany. There are some stunning areas to explore and the christmas season with all the christmas markets is just around the corner :)


Heather said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Jasmin. We explored the city a bit today and had a great time. We are looking forward to learning more about the city and I've started my German language studies again. I do enjoy the journey of discovery it just take me a bit to remember that!

Kerstin said...

Not sure whether you will still see/need this comment, but I second Jasmin. Don't think that Germans are hostile because they are reserved. My brother has spent a year in the US and when he came back, he also thought that Germans are unfriendly in comparison to Americans until he realised that they are just their normal selves.

As for English - my impression is that many Germans are embarrassed to speak English because it's not perfect and because of accents. But most can; maybe look for people in their twenties/thirties.