It’s the final countdown.. da da da daaaaaaa din da din da din!

I sure hope you got the music reference. If not, you can listen to it here, because I have been singing that in my head for the last week. 7 days, 6 days, 5 days.. It still seemed so far off. It wasn’t. But it still hadn’t really hit me. The jitters and the stress hit me, but the fact that I am moving across the world, still had not made its appearance. Tonight, however; it has. Tonight my bags are packed and my room is all cleaned out. Tonight, I am savoring every bit of home I can because….

In less than 24 hours, I will be on my way to Germany. In less than 24 hours, I will say goodbye to everyone and everything I know and be on my way to the unknown. On my way to German people, German food, German culture and all but everything American and everything I am used to. In less than 24 hours, I will be on a flight (scared shitless) and on my way. The final countdown, is over. It’s here. Germany is here.

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Chef Klaus Bier Stube

As much of a mess that the trip to the Chriskindlemarket Chicago turned out to be, our reservations at Chef Klaus Bier Stube were the complete opposite. My family made these reservations as a goodbye since I was leaving for Germany in 5 days. Naturally, I had to check them out on Facebook and online before arriving and I found nothing but good reviews, managing 4.4 out of 5 starts so I had high expectations. Ranking as the best German restaurants to eat at near Chicago, IL we couldn’t wait to arrive.

Chef Klaus Bier Stube is located in Frankfurt, IL and is open year round for business. We had never been here before, but it was everything we had hoped for and more. It was the most welcoming, charming, festive and just perfectly accurate German restaurant.. and the food was incredible! We enjoyed Oysters Rockafellar for an appetizer, served on the half shell topped with a Bavarian creamed spinach and Bacon and they were AMAZING. For our meal we split several entrees. The Weisswurst was smooth and subtle just as it should be, all we were missing was eating it at 6am with a warm Weissbier. We also tried the Rouladen, which is a sliced beef sirloin, rubbed in mustard and wrapped around a dill pickle. I originally heard of this dish on Food Network, so naturally I had to try it as it was the most unique item I could find. Surprisingly, the taste of the dill pickle gets almost completely cooked out through cooking, so it wasn’t at all what I expected. It was perfectly spiced and super juicy though, so you bet I ate every bit of it. I managed to try the Leberkndelsuppe or, liver dumpling soup which I would recommend for anyone looking for something different, authentic and light. We finished off with a few Augstiner beers, Radlers and Apple Pie shots right after we devoured the entire Apfelstrudel. Although a little pricey upon first viewing the menu, it was worth every dime once the food arrived. This is the most authentic German cuisine I have found and the owner is so interactive and amazing with every guest who enters. Enjoy the true Germany environment with loud music, plenty of Augstiner Beer and a warm, inviting family welcome when you walk in the door.

Germany: Chicago Style!

Well hello! Here I am again taking forever for another post, but, I promise.. I will get better at this whole thing as time goes on and I am finally settled in Germany. (I hope) So, this is me apologizing.. I am sorry, this last week has been just crazy. I have been busy gathering all kinds of last minute items for my trip, packing (then unpacking and repacking), finalizing plans with everyone at home, attempting to not leave anyone out of my goodbye’s and trying to work a full time job. Which, is still working out great.. I am still on cloud nine from last weeks little work inspiration story.

I did find time however; to make it to Germany. Well, sort of. Last Wednesday, my mom surprised me with this little invitation. Inside, were reservations for an all German Bier Stube on Saturday, and that same day I found out that Chicago holds its own Christkindlmarket! Seriously, how cool is this?!

As I counted down the days to Saturday, I talked to my host family again and they were so eager for my little Germany day here in the States. I was too, to be honest. I couldn’t wait to see what these markets everyone talks about are all about. And I was so excited to try the German food! If only…

What I learned about the Christkindlmarket Chicago.

1. Do not go on a weekend. That’s it. I learned one thing.

Seriously, this was absolutely horrible. I thought this was going to be an awesome adventure to get me prep’d for the real deal. Wrong. I was reminded of why I never go to anything that could even minutely be described or associated with a “tourist activity” in downtown Chicago. When you live so close and visit so often, you almost forget this is a top destination for vacationers from all over the world. You forget, that is, until you find  your self sucked into the abiss of said attraction. Welcome to Christkindlmarket Chicago. After walking the complete opposite direction 10 blocks, and having to find our way back, we found our selves leaving almost as fast as we arrived. There were so many people, we could not move. I don’t think the word ‘crowded’ even fits this place. I’m talking your boobs awkwardly rubbing the old man in front  of you while his wife is shoved up your butt, kind of packed. The lines were so long we could not even begin to think about waiting in them for some schnitzel  (But let’s be honest, I went for the Gluewein anyways!) I didn’t get the Gluewein either. The line was even longer than the schnitzel. I actually found myself saying, well.. growling “Screw it! I will just wait for the real deal,” and trying to get through the crowd just so we could leave. Who would have thought so many Chicago-ans even knew about this market? Apparently, they all did. All but this one.

Well, I did get some pictures to share, and it sure did (almost) look like the rest of yours. Except the fact that it was nestled between skyscrapers and screaming taxis.

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Germany was actually the complete opposite direction. How ironic!

 

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I think they have the concept down?

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Oh Chicago, how I will miss you so.

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It wasn’t a total wash. My friend and I shared many laughs over the experience and at least added it to our “never attempt again list” Plus.. we ended up making it back in time for a perfect little reservation at the Bier Stube…

Life lessons…

We all get them. Weather good or bad, every single one of us has hit that moment where we know we have just been taught a lesson. That, ‘okay, I’m listening’ moment strikes up at least a time or two before we realize that maybe we should have learned the last time this happened. Weather it be leaving without preparing, sharing more than you should, borrowing something you shouldn’t have, or even just not being as polite as we should have been.. You have been there. I have been there. We have all been there and I particularly went there again today.

For those who don’t know, I leave for Germany in only one week and three days. WOAH. This last week has been nothing but stress. Will I have enough money? What if something happens? I’m going to miss my mom so much. I’m going to miss my cats. I can’t do this. I can do this. I will do this. Will I get the luggage on Black Friday? Okay, I got the luggage. Does it weigh too much? What if I forget something? Make up! I must stock up on anything American that Germany may not have.. including my favorite brand of makeup. (Dream matte mouse, for those curious) Is my purse big enough? I must buy a new purse. or three.

Anyways, back to the point. I work on commission. I set businesses up with the ability to accept credit cards. I do not get paid hourly or by how many calls I make. I get paid per account I sign up, chase down, stalk and get accepted. I average about 4 accounts a week. This month, the owners presented a bonus to all sales account managers. Get 20 accounts and get a $1000 check at the end of the month. Totally feesable.. right? Work extra hard and it will happen. Wrong. Thanksgiving week is a killer in this business. No one will even touch anything regarding a business the week of Thanksgiving. America just shuts down for a week. Unless we are talking about a retail store, in that case, they never shut down. The week of Thanksgiving set me to 8 apps for the month of November. That meant I needed 12 apps in the last week. Not happening.

When I got to work Monday, the bonus was mentioned. I said right then and there, “It’s not happening.” They said it was possible. I doubted them. Four apps a week was my average, nine apps a week was the company’s record for a single agent, and I needed 13  to confirm the bonus. It was unheard of and impossible. This is how the week went. Continue reading

Here’s to us, expats…

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Apple Inc.

I know your out there…

So, as some of you know (& some of you don’t) I am super new to this whole blogging world. New as in, I still watch my stats and I still answer every comment made and I still press that little “Publish” button before I entirely edit.  I still can not figure out how to make it look exactly the way I want. I still don’t have a button and my twitter page shares with my personal one. Oh well. And, I still feel the need to come up with blog post ideas daily. Well, almost daily. When I first started this blog it was a lot harder after my first two novel length posts to come up with something new, but now that Germany is creeping up out of no where on me, and my nerves are soaring through the roof, its getting easier and easier to find things to blog about and I hope that this post gets me some awesome results! Stats, Stats, Stats. Just kidding (kind of).

So far, there are two things that I have noticed about blogging. Well, three. One.. Blogger bullying. It seriously exists. If you post a post even somewhat similar to another bloggers post (Say, two lines) they freak. And I mean really freak. They will bash you via twitter and tell all their little bloggy friends. I am new to this, please remember so maybe this is just one instance and I was the lucky one to stumble on it, but hey, it happened. Anyways, two and three are the goodies. I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone else in the blogging world is super awesome and everyone wants to be friends. Alex, from ifandsandbutts was my first blog friend and she has linked me up to other blogs and helps me with stupid questions all the time. She is also in Germany and hopefully I will meet her soon enough.

Last but not least, I have noticed that the blogging world is HUGE and a lot more people frequent it than I ever imagined before I started my new found addiction. There are blogs about literally everything. Blogs about people. Blogs about places. Blogs about funny things. Blogs about dogs. Blogs from an old lady’s perspective of the teenage life. It all exists & this last little tidbit is what brought me to this post. Continue reading

Only in America…

While stumbling (or pinning? I think the correct term would be pinning. This is not StumbleUpon I am speak of, after all…) Anyways, while I was feeding my Pinterest addiction tonight, I found this pin and it ties in just perfectly to my last post that I references Americans in. As much as I love this place, if the rest of the world is as crazy as us.. I guess moving so far away won’t be so hard afterall!

My Country ’tis of thee…  Continue reading

Who me? It’s an interview!

 

Hey, look! TheMikebehere trusted me enough to write for his blog. It’s just a simple interview, but you should still go and pay him a visit and read it! Mike is a fellow Aupair in Germany as well, who is already in the middle of it all! I can not wait to join him! You can read it here.

 

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King

 

Pinterest…

I spend hours. I mean hours, and I know I am not the only one on this never-ending website. Pinterest is where I found myself tonight, once again falling into its black hole of endless recipes I will probably never make, crafts I will never get around to, inspiring quotes I will never remember when they are needed and clothes I will never have the budget to afford. But yet, I still find myself sucked into the abyss at least once a week.

Tonight, however; as soon as I went to give in the my never ending addiction I stopped myself. Why? For you! Everyday I think about new posts to post, or new pictures to share but these last few weeks I just have not had any time. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I went to see my niece, Kailyn this weekend and was consumed with her cuteness all weekend (plus, I had no cell service because they live in the middle of nowhere, thank you for having my back, Verizon).

Anyways, I’m sorry. Between my work schedule, my mom buying a brand new car, personal life, preparing to leave, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday my life is totally consumed. But, if there is anything I have really realized this last week, it’s Americans.

Americans. Let that sink in a moment. The red white and blue, “land of opportunity”, be thankful for what you have and then fight for it the very next day… Americans.

Weather you breathe red, white and blue or sing to the tune of something other than ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, Americans are known all around the world.  And if there is anytime of year that American’s truly stand up to the crazy reputation we are known for, it begins with the week of Thanksgiving.

Your grinning. That’s because you know exactly what I am talking about.

By Sunday, grocery stores are packed with mothers from every neck of the woods emptying the shelves for the upcoming feasts on Thursday, which are usually filled with unwanted family members all trying to impress one another while trying to keep peace and to not ending up in an emergency room. Well, not always. But speaking for many Americans in many different situations, that is often the case… and that is just the beginning . Then, we have the real life Hunger Games.  Black Friday.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

Every year I tell myself, “I will never do this again” as I am standing in line for countless hours to save a buck. And yet every year, here I am.

This year, we were so lucky to be among the first 100 people into Kohls. Black Friday is insane. This year, I actually experienced my first fights, injuries and arguments over sales. I waited for three hours, in the 35 degree weather, because they had an awesome sale on luggage. Apparently, so did everyone else. We also got to witness  40 or so full grown adults running up the down escalator.. half falling-the other half trampling the less fortunate. It’s amazing the things a 60 year old grandma will for a cashmere sweater on sale. Anyways, I made it in, I made it out. I am alive and well.

Extremely exhausted, cursing everyone out and stumbling home like a zombie at the end of the apocalypse come 5am, I did get my brand new luggage and my traveling outfit. (Which, in case you have lost count that ‘travelling’ is in TWO WEEKS!) Plus, I got to spend some awesome boding time with mom, whom I am going to miss so much. (Excuse the terrible photo quality, This was off my cell phone around 1am.)

All in all, I hope everyone escaped the madness, stayed safe and had a great holiday.. injury and stress free. However, being American, would really be the same if that were true?

“Here’s some advice. Stay alive.”

– Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Some things I’ve noticed…

 

“Patience, he thought. So much of this was patience – waiting, and thinking and doing things right. So much of all this, so much of all living was patience and thinking.” – Gary Paulsen, Hatchet

 

If there is one thing I have really dedicated myself to during this whole adventure thus far, it was making sure that I was sure of everything. Well, as much as I could be. No matter what aspect of my trip I was planning, there was a level of certainty that had to be fulfilled. When searching for flights, I had to have one that offered low or no cost for checked bags. When searching for a German cell phone carrier, I had to have one with unlimited data. When completing all my documents, I had to have everything completed and submitted in a certain way. And most of all, when choosing a family, I spoke with several, but I had to have one that I knew would I would really fit with.

Maybe this is just me, but everyday I read through blogs and forums and I keep stumbling, over and over, on so many potential Au pairs that are jumping on the first family that is interested in hosting them. When starting my family search, I can not even begin to count the number if Skype requests, never ending emails and even calls to my cell phone. Let’s be honest, you simply can not answer everyone and keep it all straight and organized.

Everyone has expectations, and in the first few families I considered joining there was always at least one negative aspect that I was willing to overlook. Weather it was the children’s ages, hours, location or even pay.. there was something (maybe even just a gut feeling) that I was settling for and that is what leads me to this post. If there is one thing I would like to get across it’s this:

Stop settling.

That’s it. There should never be a time when we have to settle for anything less than we wish for. In the one life we have to live, why should we lower than our standards? Whether it be moving across the world or simply choosing a new car.. Why take the chance?

In the beginning there were a few things that I knew I wanted out of this experience  I knew I had to be with a family that spoke English. I will be the first to admit that I love to talk, and being put in an environment where I could not communicate would not suit my personality. Second, I knew I wanted to care for little girls. I am so close to my niece and I just connect with them better. Third, I knew that I did not want to care for older children and I knew that I did not want to be a personal assistant. I wanted to be a care giver for children. Not for adults. And last, Location. I had to be in a position where if something did happen, I could get home safely and quickly, but I also wanted to be able to travel during my time off.

After searching for a few weeks, Eva messaged me and I almost immediately messaged back. Yes, I was in negotiations with another family in Australia, but I knew to keep my options open. I just had this feeling that they were not everything I hoped for. From the bat, there was nothing on Eva’s profile that I had to “accept.” There was nothing that made me take a step back. They were in Europe, and they were in central Europe. That meant I had easy access to my family in England in case of emergency, and easy access to travel pretty much anywhere. Paris. Rome. London. Berlin. You name it and there was a $100 flight to get there. Second, they had two little girls and believed in a strong family life. They offered me an acceptable situation and answered all of my questions. And lastly, they did not just want a care giver, they wanted to add an additional member to their family.

I can not wait to get to Germany. I can’t wait to throw myself into the unknown and learn to love this new world. To be happy and to be perfectly content. To learn everyday and soak in this new culture. To shape my values and to mold my person.

I am so happy I have not settled and I believe any person that is looking into becoming one of ‘us’ should feel the same. The feelings of excitement definitely outweigh the feelings of fear and this experience is already teaching me new things. Its already molding my values and shaping my person and I haven’t even boarded the plane yet…