Frohe Weihnachten!

Where I live, that means Merry Christmas! And Merry is has been.

Germany has treated me so well my first two weeks. I have seen so much, tasted so much, learned so much and just experienced this astonishing culture in such magnificent ways, that I haven’t caught any of you up on anything, I’m sorry.  I sure say that a lot, but I’m still living through my own eyes more than through the eyes of my camera, you understand, right?

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If Germany has taught me two things so far it’s this:

1. The stereotype that Germans are bitter is a bunch of crap. 

3. Everything is different. Nothing is the same.

I mean, a few things are the same. People are still people, the roads are still roads and the sun rises and falls everyday. But the people are Germans! And I did 100 mph on the AutoBahn! And the sun rises and falls over those bright green rolling hills. The culture, traditions and just all around lifestyles just seem so enlightening and bright to me. The houses are painted all shades of pastels, the castles are covered in intricate designs and I still feel like I am looking at pictures.

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This last week has been Christmas filled, I managed to make it to both Munich and (my hometown) Dorfen’s Christkindlmarkt, which (I promise) I will post for you tomorrow, one with a fellow expat.. yay! Christmas Eve was celebrated and the gifts have been opened. I even managed to make it to a Church here in Germany, and while the thought is what counts, I understood nothing. Happy Birthday, baby Jesus is what I meant and I’m sure the Germans all understand. ;)

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I haven’t truly been homesick until today, of course, because it’s Christmas and I am 4600 miles away. But, as I’m being all boo-hooey over not being home for Christmas and locking myself up to watch Christmas movies all day in my room, I went upstairs to get some tea. The second I walked into the kitchen, Sophia, only 8 months old screamed, smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen and started crawling as fast as she could to me. Soon after, Eva informed me that she does not want me to feel homesick and they have planned a trip to a near medieval castle for tomorrow.

Moments like this make me so, so glad that I am here. Moments like this make me realize that as much as I miss the people at home, this is where I am meant to be right now. This is exactly where I belong on Christmas. Merry Christmas, with love, from Germany.

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My first 24 hours..

So, I’m here and I made it alive and still in one piece, which is really good. (I’m exhausted and still have Jetlag… booo) Anyways, here’s what my life has been the last day or so…

EXHAUSTED.

Leaving sucked. Seriously, it sucked. I was last minute packing and trying to say goodbye to ten people in five hours. Friends, family.. you name it. But it happened, and I even got to say goodbye to the one person I didn’t want to walk away from most. (awwww….)

Sooooo…

Germany, what can I say? First impressions are everything, and even though I am still jetlag ridden and it’s late, I want to post this while the feelings are still fresh. So, the flight. It was long, of course, but I can’t say I am very impressed with SAS Airline’s seat designs. They were the smallest seats I think I have ever flown in, I couldnt get comfortable and thus got no sleep. I did, however; get to see the stars while we were flying over the Alantic. Let me tell you, you have not truly seen the stars until you have seen them over the dark, deep ocean, from 39,000 feet in the air. It was incredible and I stared and stared until I finally felt sleepy. (Fail, never fell asleep.) I did doze off for what seemed to be about 45 minutes and when I awoke, it was light out. That is where I screwed up.  I should have never looked. Instantly my body clock was messed up and I kept trying to tell myself to stop asking questions. It was day now, no matter what time it was back home. The good news: I was next to a perfectly nice old man from Denmark who then helped me navigate Copenhagen airport.. which was very easy to navigate but seemed to never end. I landed in terminal F and had to depart from terminal A. I will say, Denmark has got the US beat ten times over in airports. Why? There was a Victoria’s Secret, Burberry, Apple, Starbucks, Charging stations and pretty much any other top notch store you can imagine strung throughout the airport. It felt like walking through a mall. A very expensive mall. Plus, I boarded my second plane like Mr. President. How freakin’ cute.

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The flight to Copenhagen flew by (literally..haha). The sunrise was absolutely beautiful and just as I started to get comfortable (which was much easier on the smaller plane), the seat belt light went back on and we were decending into Munich. HOLY CRAP. I was finally in Germany. Thank god, my fingers hurt from being crossed so long, hoping everything was right.

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Munich airport was simple, my baggage (all of it) came out quickly and I was on my way. As soon as I walked out of Baggage claim and stopped to look around, I saw Eva approaching me. Sigh… they were real and I was not being sold in the black market. (I really should not joke about that.) Emilia came running up to me, yelling something in German and handed me a rose, a balloon and a huge hug. How freakin’ cute. After meeting, we headed home.

They are so nice and everything I hoped for and imagined. In fact, they are even nicer. My apartment downstairs is just so cute, and so isolated that I love it. As soon as you walk into the house, there are stairs that go both up and down. Which, they spiral in both directions and the railings are rope. How freakin’ cute. (The look. The hardwood floors are not. I fell down the stairs this morning when they were out, and seriously messed up my back. Currently the bottom half is black/red/purple/yellow. JOY. Good thing I brought meds!) Anyways, I was exhausted, so we had dinner. Don’t know what it was, but it was good. I helped get the girls to bed and then I headed to bed myself. I missed home. I miss my mom and my cats.

This morning, jetlag was ten times worse. It’s not helping that I am still keeping touch with everyone back home wondering how my arrival went, that after the kids are asleep I then communicate back home for an hour or two. There are some things and people I just refuse to lose over this trip, so I will just lose sleep. I can sleep when I’m in Chicago (haha).

Today was fantastic, I still missed home. I still questioned everything. The scenery was beautiful but I still hadn’t seen much of the area since it was dark last night. And this.. this ladies and gentlemen.. is where my first impression was made.

Today, we had to pick Emilia up from school (“I don’t need my good camera, we’re just going to run an errand… WRONG). We also had to set me up with a German bank account (that was fun), and sign into the Town Registration Office (Bloggy friends, I don’t know what it’s called..sorry!) Let me tell you a little about Dorfen…..

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There is no way I am not in a movie.

That’s exactly how I feel. The town is just way too freakin’ cute. (As you can tell, I really like this saying since I have been here, it’s all I can think of to describe how I feel at the moment. Sorry, jetlag) Anyways, the buildings are all different colors, all stuck together in a perfect square with only one way in and out. It’s all connected and driving under a little archway is the only way in. The Christmas Market is set up and the booths match the buildings behind them.  Dorfen is just a movie prop, I know it. It’s got to be and they just haven’t told me yet.

The matching Market and Buildings. Why isn't the USA this cute?!!!

The matching Market and Buildings. Why isn’t the USA this cute?!!!

One lane to get in and out of City Centre. Wait your turn or forever hold your peace.

One lane to get in and out of City Centre. Wait your turn or forever hold your peace.

I am not sure if all of Germany is like this or if I just struck gold, but seeing Dorfen today really changed my views from this morning. I was really bummed and almost questioning this. Not now. Now I am so stoked to be here. Now I have started to try to teach Emilia English  Now I am ready to go. I still miss home, of course, and I still miss my mom and my cats.. and I still think I am missing out on things back home.. but I don’t think that will ever go away. I think at this point my best advise would be: the first 24 hours are the hardest. Because now, I am so happy.. so relieved and just so all around ecstatic that I am living in Europe.

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Did you hear that? I am living in Europe.

How freakin’ cute.

I’m baaaacckk…

Only this time, I’m in Germany.

 

I bet you skimmed over that sentence. I’M FINALLY IN GERMANY! All the planning, all the hard work and stressing.. it’s over. The family is everything I expected, I am in love with my little apartment. I am here. I am alive. I am well.

However; jet lag is a sneaky biotch, so I will have to write you the details of my trip tomorrow because right now I can not keep my eyes open. See you all then!

 

-Hanley