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

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

 

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…

32 Days..

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Now that I have all my ducks in a row, and things are finally ready to take off with this whole trip.. I only find myself asking the last and most drug out question of all..  How many days until December 11th? It started off as over 60, so half the time has officially passed (in what seems like a second) and in case you are wondering… as of today, it is 32 days until I leave.

32 days until my life changes and I am thrown into something I can’t wait for and absolutely nothing I know. 32 days until a plane touches down in a wintery Munich with a suitcase full of everything that relates to home jammed into all the pockets. 32 days until I meet these people whom I will soon call family and 32 days until I thrust my life into the unknown and pray that everything blows my expectations away. Too much? Sorry. I’m getting really excited over here. Wouldn’t you be?!

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Munich, Germany

For the last few weeks, I have been like a kid waiting for the Christmas “Big Book” from Toys R Us. I am at that mailbox the second I get home waiting for another key document I need for my travels. Today, finally, I received the last two. First off, my passport! Yeah, Yeah.. I know this should have been my first, but, as you will learn I don’t always do things according to plan or in the order they probably should be done. Thus, it was the last document I chased down. Today it came in the mail and thank the Lord I do not have to show many people that picture. I swear they stretch it. Along with my passport came my boarding pass and Loyalty Bonus card. Just the name of it gets me even more enthralled.

At this point, there is nothing else to wait for and I can just start to count down the days. The elections are done here at home, everyone is stewing down and Christmas is on its way. Well, for me Christmas will come early at home. Yes, that means I will not be home for Christmas. But what else does that mean? I get TWO Christmases! Not so bad after all as all my hard work and dedication will soon pay off as I walk out into German air.

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Bavaria, Germany. Soon to be called home.

Kids..

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

Isn’t it funny, that as we are growing we want only to get older, and once we get there we would give anything to go back? Kids are some of the worlds most fundamental and enlightening beings on this planet. I talked to Emelia just last weekend again via Skype, she is trying SO hard to learn English before I get there. Sophia- well she is fine as long as she has that dang calculator! As soon as I get permission from Alex and Eva, I will post a photo for everyone to see these adorable kids!

I took a few weeks until I actually met Emelia and Sophia, and let me tell you.. I am in total LOVE ever since! I keep asking myself how in the world I got to be so lucky when it came to such cute and open kids. They are both red-headed typical little girls. Emelia is three and curious and I just got the update that Sophia is officially starting to learn to crawl!

Through the craziness of my job, I do find the time to email back and forth with Eva all week, and have done so since we first found each other, but today’s email really tugged at my heart-strings. Here’s an excerpt…

“Emilia is already planning for everyone where to sit in the car and at the table, she  always counts the people in our family and you are already counted, too. She’s really looking forward to see you. It’s very cute when she talking about Hanley who will sit in front of her in the new car and so on….”

How cute?! Ahh, I can’t wait to get there. I just wanted to share that with all the people questioning why I want to do this.

Is this real life?

Here we go, the start to a never ending cycle… “Nummer 1”

Yes, I googled that. I do not know a lich of German. I don’t know how to tell you my name, my age or where I am from. I feel like Kailyn, my two-year old neice. The only word I know how to say is “No.” NICHT! Hey, at least I know how to avoid the things I don’t want……right?

If I had a dime for every time I was asked who, what, when, where or why I am doing this I probably could have payed for my flight three times over. But, again, for your sake and to get things started I will answer one more time.

What is an AuPair?

Always the first question. “Such a weird word.” Google it. Seriously, google is a beautiful thing and it will tell you more than I ever can.

AuPair: A young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or child care in exchange for room and board.

It’s a french word. It means “to be equal” or “to become one.” I join a family. I become a sister, a friend, a confident, a newfound daughter, a mother and a foreigner all in one. I am to be equal to these people I join with for the next year or so. Lucky them! ;)

Let’s get down to it. You are probably still questioning me.

“So you’re like.. a maid, right”  O.o

Not so much. Basically, I move. I leave everything I know and have ever known and I move across the world for the next year or so.  I take everything I own, and I relocate it to Dorfen, Germany and hope that my luggage doesn’t get lost.

I care for two little girls- soon to be three- while their parents are working. I have time off to travel, I take language courses and learn the Germany way. I drink German beer on the weekends. I get spending money and get to travel the world in return. I also get 24/7 access to Skype. For all of my super paranoid family members. Continue reading