Grüße aus Deutschland: Round two let’s go!

It’s taken me a long time but I have finally had the time and energy to sit down and write an update about arriving in Germany, and with that… I’m here! Per usual, jet lag has gotten the best of me since I arrived, which I completely expected and was delivered in full force. I lost a night in transit, so I stayed up until 8pm the day I arrived and slept like a baby…….for three hours. Then it was on and off and I was up every hour on the hour, which lead to much of my first few days either asleep or fighting to stay awake with a clouded head. Anyways, I’m on the straight and narrow now and I think I have officially beaten jet lag.

The first few days have been great. Alina and Steve have been super welcoming and gone out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. They’re still moving into this house, so things are a little crazy but they still put making sure I was settled in correctly first, which I hugely appreciated. Both boys are fun, energetic, happy little guys. Milo laughs at anything and everything and loves to play outside, and Luke loves anything Milo loves, laughs when anyone else smiles. He is Milo’s little shadow and it’s really cute to watch them interact and play together. I was really impressed with Milo’s English the last few days, though. Even in just four, short days he has already started using English more than the day I arrived. When asked a question in English, he answers in English. Most of the time he will throw an English word into a German sentence if he doesn’t know how to say the entire thing. Having an American father and growing up hearing English, but being raised in Germany with a German mother obviously automatically instills the understanding of both languages from the start, however the speaking of both languages comes a lot slower when one language is spoken more over the other. Que- Hanley- and when I am constantly speaking English to Alina- Alina is speaking it back- Steve chimes in- Milo asks a question- it’s answered in English- we play in English- suddenly he becomes completely surrounded by English instead of German, which is why and how he is able to pick it up so quickly. This is also the sole purpose of this whole ordeal- surround a child with a language and they pick up on it.
Anyways, due to the jet lag being so crazy I really haven’t had a chance to get out and explore much. We have done a lot of running around, and I really love how central this area is to everything. Rammstein Airbase, Wiesbaden, and Mainz are all just a few minutes away. Wiesbaden seems to be huge- so I am really excited to have something so near by that has absolutely everything. Friday, I am going to a Weinfest with two ladies that I met before I arrived and Saturday is Milo’s birthday party. Thankfully, the weather also starts to cool off, as its been above 85 everyday with no air conditioning. WITH that said, it hasn’t been near as bad as I expected and we have stayed busy enough to try and ignore it.
Today, we went for a quick drive around Walluf as I had seen the surrounding areas but not the actual town I am in. This morning, I took the boys for a walk through the vineyards. Did I just say that? Yes, I am completely surrounded by wine vineyards. Walluf is called the “Gates to the wine region”
How freaking cool. I can’t wait to explore.
And how long have I waited for this kind of view again?! It’s so stinking cute.
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two days to go..

Two days.

Two days to go until I leave once again and begin a life in Germany. As I sit here with family on a quick treck to Dayton, OH; it’s crazy to think that in less than 48 hours I will be airport bound and a huge airplane trying to get comfortable and sleep away any incoming jet lag.

Although not as long this time around, I still find myself with the same nerving feeling as I had back in 2012 when I left for what was supposed to be a year long expedition in Europe. Although it was an absolutely incredible experience, it was a huge learning curve, and I think immaturity and not being as open as I could have been really hindered what I experienced in the months I spent living in the small city of Dorfen. Obviously, that ended abruptly and sent me back to the states for the next two years until it finally landed me here, two days before leaving again. And I am so excited.

It’s funny, being this close to becoming an expat again has really forced me to spend a lot of time realizing all I have learned from my first experience and all that I still have yet to learn, just waiting for me to experience it. I really, truthfully miss the feeling of constantly learning, always absorbing and having the curiousity of a child when it came to the remarkable history that Europe has to offer.

Two days until I get all that back and the passion I have is ignited once again.

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How to eat a Kiwi

It’s funny, really. I can’t even begin to explain how many times during a normal day that my last stay in Germany randomly pops up in my mind. I have always been the “story teller.” I have told countless poor souls about my Germany experience- probably at minimum three times each- and I would gladly talk their ears off again given the chance. Weather it be something I learned, experienced, lived, saw, ate or even smelled, my life now is so different than it was during my stay in 2012, yet it is so easily comparable at the same time.

Just yesterday, I was cutting up fresh fruit for a friends bridal shower the next day and I couldn’t help but chuckle at myself half way through. I had carefully carved the watermelon into little hearts while my friend quartered strawberries and got small punch cups ready to be filled with fresh fruit. I was soaked in watermelon juice and the floor was simulating a musical instrument every time I lifted my feet off it from being so sticky when I remembered that I had a few kiwis in the fridge we could use. As I started to cut into them and almost made it an entire hour without talking about my upcoming trip I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that, I actually had to think about how to cut a kiwi.

Growing up, my mom had kiwis in the house quite often. I have always been a fruit and veggie lover so naturally I was just as content having kiwis or grapefruit for breakfast as  I was having typical breakfast meals. I remember my mom cutting the skin off the kiwi, rinsing it off and then eating it. That simple…

Until my stay in Germany. I should note that every morning we had the same breakfast except for Saturdays- when Alex would load us up with bakery treats. During the week, one of my duties was to make fruit salad nightly so it would be ready for Alex when he he went to work, and to make sure there was enough to Eva, myself and the girls upon starting our day. Everyday, I made it the same, apples, pineapple, grapes, maybe some mango, banana, sometimes oranges and almost always- kiwi. Again, cutting the flesh off, washing and dicing. However, one day that all changed when I looked around the corner to see little Emilia eating a kiwi with a spoon. And in that moment I was 100% outsmarted by a 3 year old.

With that, How to eat a kiwi:

1. Take the kiwi out of the fridge and give it a good rinse. I always rinse my fruit because I don’t know about you but I’m always the person squeezing, smelling, touching all my fruit before I buy it so, wash all those hand germs off it.

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2. Cut the kiwi down the middle horizontally. Notice how the kiwi makes two little bowls.

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3. Use a spoon and scoop the kiwi flesh out. The juice stays within the skin making it mess free, cutting board free and painlessly easy to eat.

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4. Enjoy!

How I had missed this genius way of eating a fruit that I had been consuming for most of my life I have no idea but yet again I was subtly reminded of how much I grew as a person in Germany- even if it was just learning the right way to eat a kiwi.

What are your favorite fruits? Have you ever learned something so mind bogglingly simple that you wondered how in the world you hadn’t already known it?

Anything worth doing…

Is always worth doing twice

I was going to make this a post that was all heartfelt and schmoozy but instead I’m just going to come right out and say it now that its official..

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As of August 9th, I am returning to Germany until October 16th. I could not be anymore excited and absolutely blessed to have this amazing opportunity. I will be between near Wiesbaden/Mainz right on the Rhein River close to the border of France. I can not wait to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

Get in, you’re in for another ride..

When life hands you lemons..

Per my last post, I pretty much let the cat out of the bag that I was looking into teaching English. I searched for countless hours, talked to multiple people who all had great information and lost lots of sleep trying to get everything in order.

Instead of applying for a job at an English teaching school, International Kindergarten or University, I decided that I wanted to teach English privately but still have the knowledge and skills that a certificate offered. Also, my destination was set to Switzerland, and getting a visa in Switz proved to be just out right hard.

I did everything I possible could have. I tried applying here and had people trying to figure out things there but in the end it just wouldn’t work. Switzerland is known to be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and while me not getting the visa seemed to be a negative situation at the time, for the country itself Switzerland really has their shit together. Switzerland will not give a working visa to someone that is not of EU citizen status unless the employer can actually prove that there is absolutely no one within Switzerland that is capable and willing to do said job. That being said, there are thousands of Swiss that want and are more than capable of teaching English. You also have to prove that if you haven’t “found” a perfect candidate, that you have posted said job on government monitored websites for a minimum of 6 months and that the person coming to fill your position has extensive degrees and funding to stay in Switzerland.

In the end, it didn’t happen. BUT THAT’S OKAY.

I am a firm believer that life will put you where you are meant to be, and at that time I just wasn’t meant to be in Switzerland. Where was I meant to be? Where was I pulled to. Why did I pick Switzerland? I picked Switzerland because it was close to GERMANY. Germany was where my heart was, I was just trying to convince my head of other wise.

Life, always, 100% of the time will guide your heart. Life will also hand you lemons.

Throw the lemons out.

TEFL, TESOL, TESL, CELTA

Alright, so my blog has been pretty vacant but I promise big things are coming. Obviously, by the name of this post, you might have a slight hint as to what is coming but shhhh.. it’s not official and the title of this is merely a perk of what I will really be doing. If you do not know what these are, perhaps you won’t be able to help me. But I think a lot of the traffic involved in this blog will be of some help.I have spent hours researching and I can’t seem to get a clear answer, so I figured someone knows someone who knows someone with one of these Certifications and can help me. In advance, thanks guys :)

So, my question to you is this TEFL, TESOL, TESL or CELTA.

My understanding is follows:

TEFL– Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Applies where English is not the primary language, supposedly the highest degree of worldwide compatibility. Cheapest Course and Cheapest Certification from what I can see. Available both online and in course form.

TESL- Teaching English as a Second Language. Applies in areas which English is considered a primary language. Example, Teach English to foreign students within the United States. To qualify, educators must speak English as their native language. 

TESOL- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. In Canadian and American terminology, a TESOL certificate may apply as either a TESL or TEFL certificate; however, the designation is subject to restrictions based on country. No uniform designation exists across different areas. Outside of North America, TESOL often replaces the term TEFL. (That is from this website, which has been the clearest answers I have found thus far.)

CELTA– Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults run by Cambridge University. 4 intensive weeks and $3000-$4000. Yeah, that is not happening, however it is one of the available options and seems to only be the very best in the UK. (Again, this is from my research, if that is wrong please let me know.) 

This website has broken down the TESOL vs CELTA. 

TEFL and TESL are both intriguing to me because the TEFL seems most widely recognized next to the CELTA, however the TESL seems better in the US, ya know.. after my adventures. 

It seems to me that all of the courses are offered both online and in person. TEFL seems to be the cheapest, but why? Does anyone have any idea if anyone with only a TEFL has had issues or successes in finding employment with that certification alone? Or have they gotten the TESOL, since apparently TESOL sometimes replaces the TEFL. This is where it gets confusing. I would hate to waste money on one cert, to find out I need another. 

So, now I need your help. Pleaaaaaasseeeeee :) 

comments and concerns and advice and jokes are all welcome.

 

Back in the Saddle again..

It’s been a year
It’s crazy to think how time changes. Even crazier to think I haven’t wrote in almost a year. I think about writing all the time, I come up with what to say and usually write it in my head before I go to bed but then I end up busy and can never put it back into words. WOOPS! Today I was inspired. Today is 1 year since my accident.

The last year has been crazy. Really, that’s the only word for it. After flying home and abruptly realizing how much I loved Germany, life was officially in the fast lane. I went back to my full time job, had custody of three kids, bought a new car, started and ended friendships, lost 25 pounds, lost my grandmother, gained faith and strength.

But I always missed Germany.

I have come to realize just how lucky I was, how absolutely amazing the entire experience and even though I had a few hiccups, I would recommend it to every single young female (or male) to do the same thing. It really is life changing. The world is huge, go see it and I promise you won’t return the same person you left as.

Finally, my traveling has sparked back up. Since December, I have been in Florida for 10 days, Sanibel Island and it was beautiffffuull! We rented JetSkiis and found wild dolphins, spent days on end laying on white sandy beaches and breathed in all the salt water air I could. I’m totally and will forever be a beach girl.

I took a quick unexpected trip to see my best friend in North Carolina when my flights all got cancelled which worked out to be a blessing in disguise. Ash and I haven’t been together in way too many years and though it was a quick visit, it was so perfect.

Last but definitely not least, I finally went and stayed in New York City which TOTALLY stole my heart, I can’t wait to go back.

All three trips were perfect.

I hope to get back to my blog and write. I can’t promise that it will all be travel based, Au pair based or Germany based.. Although I can’t wait to get back to all three of those things.

A quick post for now, but I’ll be back, I promise!

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,500 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

13 things I will surely miss

1. Thomy mustard and Stratialla Yogurt and Kase Spatzle

Why these three inventions don’t exist in the US is beyond me, but they don’t. Thomy mustard, is a spicy mustard used for, if you are me, everything. I put it on Bretzen, bread, sandwiches  pizza.. you name it.

Straitialla Yogurt, but not just any stratialla yogurt. It has to be the organic kind that isn’t loaded with sugar. Think vanilla yogurt with flakes of chocolate in it. Or the Dairy Queen Chocolate Chip Shake, and make it healthy. Mixed with Musuli it beats any milkshake. FREAKING, YUM.

Kase Spatzle. Eva  makes this homemade and I already know that no matter what, it will never be the same. I won’t have the true mountain cheeses, or the Swiss cheese from Austria. But I’ll try. Eva is so sweet and got me the Spatzle Hobel to make it. Here I come, Paula Dean.

2. History talks with Eva

I have never been a history buff. I think I slept through more history classes than I was awake for in high school and the only reason I know about German history is because I like to read and read the diary of Anne Frank. Okay, so I am not that bad, but close. Eva is a history teacher and she is just filled with knowledge about this country. Everything from the kings and queens to the holocaust and reform. We just sit for hours and I soak in all the knowledge she has. I’ll miss that. I will miss learning every single day. I love to learn. And even when its not with Eva, there is no way that you can live as an expat and not learn something literally every single day. Why? Because nothing is normal. Nothing is what you know. Everything is different and your brain is constantly challenged. I am going to miss that challenge.

3. Good Beer

Before arriving in Germany, I could go an entire night drinking Bud Light and be a completely happy camper. 

I am dreading going back to budlight. The watered down, low volume and bitter taste of Budlight. Oh how I loved it. But have you ever had a snake bite? Because its Guniess and Cider and it is  liquid euphoria. I never, ever want to drink anything but a snake bite and I am 90% sure it just won’t be the same at home. …sigh.

Local beer everywhere you go. Dorfen actually brews its own beer. So does Erding. Passing. Munich. and every other town, city and village here. And most of them are pretty damn good. 

4. The Bayern Ticket

IE: The best invention ever for someone living in Bavaria. The Bayern Ticket is a train pass, good for a full day for all travel within the state of Bavaria. It includes Regional trains, all S and U Bahns and most buses  The best part? You can add people onto it. It costs 22 Euros for the first person and 4 additional for each person, up to five. Taylor, Helena and I split it and it’s 10 Euros each. That makes seeing a ton of stuff in Germany super cheap. Neuschweinstein Castle (which I still haven’t put on here, sorry…), Salzburg, Austria and pretty much anything you want to see regarding an awesome castle or awesome landscape. I love Bavaria. I will always, always, always love Bavaria.

5. Castles and Churches

As stated above, Germany is known for its castles and churches. No words can describe the pure beauty and childhood happiness that can emerge from staring up at Neuschweinstein. No words can even explain the intricate design of the Salzburg Cathedral. Simply, no words. Complete and utter beauty.

6. Green Rolling Hills

The landscape. Here is Germany, the hills roll and roll and then turn to snow covered mountains  The buildings and houses are painted every shade of pastel with curved roofs and perfect story book fronts. I will miss that. I will miss every bit of the beauty here.

7. The language barrier

I know, I never thought I would say this and as much of a pain in the ass as it was, it can also be intriging and fun. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing fun about the dispatcher for the medics I called not understand a word of English. But it can be fun, when you are eating a meal or walking around and you pick up on a conversation and actually understand it. I came here not knowing a single word of German, and I’m leaving able to pick up on 85% of conversations. It happens with Emilia all the time, she will say something in German, I respond and then realize that I fully understood her. But what I think is even better, is her knowledge of English. Emilia was 3 when I arrived and didn’t know a single word of English. Just the other night, she came down to inform me dinner was ready and said “Hand-lay, Abend essen ist fertig.” Which means, “Hanley, dinner is ready.” So I looked at her and I said Emilia, how do you say this in English? She stopped, thought and said… essen is READY! The look on both of our faces just lights up and I hug her so tight. Teaching such a small child another language has been so rewarding. And THAT IS COOL.

8. Taylor and Helena

While here, I have met two of the funnest, loving, outgoing and crazy females. Taylor and Helena have made this experience everything it is. The girls nights, getting stuck in a city with no way home, laughing at a language mess up, feeling awkward all the time, missing home, being in the same place, in the same state of mind, together. Leaving Taylor and Helena is going to be the worst, worst feeling of this whole thing. See you ladies again soon, promise!

9. Being economical

Here is the thing, point blank. Americans are wasteful. We throw away garbage without a second though, leave the water running and the lights on. And while I realize that not all Americans do this 90% do without a second thought about it. Heck, I did it! But in Germany, I have sorted all trash, recycled, saved, and been completely economical. I will miss that. I will miss having to do that and it being a habit. 

10. Insurance and crazy German organization

Insurance. I am prone to accidents… I’ll admit it, whatever. And here in Germany I had insurance. The burn incident cost well over 10k Euros. Without insurance I would be utterly screwed. 

The German origination actually makes sense. The mandated insurances and the way they run things makes sense. 

11. Chocolate, and I don’t even LIKE chocolate

Oh, my gosh. My entire life I have hated chocolate. About the farthest stretch I would take was chocolate milk. But let me tell you something, the chocolate we have is not chocolate. It’s cocoa and water. The chocolate here is chocolate. My gosh, Americans are deprived.

12. Choco Croissants

This goes right along with the above statement. Creamy, fudge goodness tucked in a buttery croissant is just heaven in your mouth. Nothing, nothing, nothing better. (Also the reason I completely failed at the whole lose weight plan….oops!)

13. This family. 

Last, but not least. In fact, this family is the number one thing I will miss come Monday. 

Eva and Alex have been the most loving, caring, open minded, understanding and welcoming couple I have ever met. They have taught me the value of marriage, the value of a true relationship. They are the definition of true love and they way they support each other in everything is absolutely inspiring. 

The girls. My sweet, little Germany girls. Emilia and I have bonded so much in the last few months, and her giggle is irreplaceable. The way she repeats English and walks around the house “speaking English” can bring a smile to anyones face. It’s complete jabber and doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense, but to her it does. When she tells her friends “This is Hand-lay and she is from Amer-ee-ka” you can see her eyes light up with Pride. 

My Sophia. My sweet, sweet girl. Sophias first birthday is next week and watching her grow and develope the last five months has been such a rewarding expierence. She learned to crawl, hold her bottle, eat real food, sleep through the night, say her first words, pull herself up, take her first steps, giggle her first real giggle…. Between waking her up with the biggest smile I have ever seen, her giggle when you throw her in the air, the way she crawls as fast as a cheetah when I walk in the room…. Gosh, I am going to miss that little girl.

And finally, Antonia. Only one month old and still so tiny and innocent. Even in just a few mere weeks.. and watching her learn to see things, focus and then smile is just heart melting.

 

Germany, as much as I have bitched and complained about the things I miss.. Nothing, nothing will compare to the time I have spent here. I absolutely loved this place. I loved the country, the history, the people and the culture. I left my family at home for a job. And now I am leaving my family here. 

Germany, Eva, Alex, Emilia, Sophia, and Antonia… I will love you forever. See you soon. 

The big news…

Alrighty, so here comes the big news. The shocker. The “WHATT?!”

I’m going home. I am leaving Germany and in just twelve short days will be on a plane to Chicago. Why? Because I need to. I have things to attend to. And trust me, I’m right in my decision. I know I am. Sorry, bloggy friends, this one isn’t quite appropriate for your eyes. There is just something that I need to do, that I can’t do from 4600 miles away.

I love Germany. I love Germany in all its beer, pretzel and ridiculous no sunny weather goodness. The people I have met, the food I have ate, the (one too many) beers I have tried, and the land I have discovered will stay with me forever. This thing has been the best, most enlightening and memorable experience in my life, though I do hope to somehow beat it someday, because.. well, that would just mean and even MORE awesome experience! The people I have met, the discussions I have had with so many different people, from different places… ahhh, I will miss you all.

Just the other day, my friend Dace left Germany after 7 years to return to her home country of Latvia. While sitting at the table in Augstiner’s Taylor and I came to this whole life changing “ah ha” moment that I think every person needs to expierence just once. About thirty people turned out to say goodbye to our beloved Dace.. and the coolest thing happened. At just one table, just one single table, in the middle of a resturant sat…

A Latvian

Three Americans

An Australian

A few Germans

Two Spaniards

Two Brazilians

A Russian

Two Italians

The list goes on and on. That’s just what I can remember from the people I talked to most. So many different cultures, different languages and different personalities all smashed together in one big table. Thrown into the abiss hoping a language barrier doesn’t stand in the way, and guess what? It didn’t. Somebody knows German, who knows Spanish, who can communicate in Russian and then translate it back. It works. It always, always works.

I guess this is a part of being “globalized” Realizing there is more to this world than automatic cars and the USA. More than Jimmy Johns, Chili’s and Chiplote. (But dear heavens, you can guarantee they are my first stops once I arrive in Chitown) There is more than your routine. There is more your everyday. There is a whole lot more. More language. More culture  More food to be tried. More beer to be drank. Cheap wine exists. The German stereotype exists. Spanish people in fact speak English. Brazilians can fool you into being Italian. Australians have some of the funniest jokes. Americans are spoiled ass rotten. Europe is awesome. People are awesome. Expats are awesome.

So, this is it. This is the end of my aupair journey.. here in Germany at least. Will I be back? Absolutely. My time here has been cut short. There is more I want to see. Next summer, I will defiantly be back in Europe and will make my way into good old Munich. New Town Hall, oh how I will miss you. And Kennedy’s. And my friends. Family. Walking around aimesly and being amazed…..   sighhhh

But ya know what? It’s okay. Because..

This world is a big place, and even though this chapter is coming to a close, I am no where near done exploring it.