Friday, February 15, 2013

What a difference a year makes

A year ago we had just arrived in Munich and were frantically trying to get everything sorted out to become residents here. We had to register with the police a few days after arriving, and had to apply for our residence permits (like our visa) a few weeks after arriving. With our limited German skills, this was all very intimidating and difficult. Filling out paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy is pretty unpleasant in your own country, in your own language, so being here really magnified that discomfort.

Yesterday Dylan and I went in to Munich to try and get German drivers licenses. While still not our favorite sort of thing to do by any means, it is so much easier now than just one short year ago! We joked about how last year we would ask people if they spoke english, and they would respond with something like "no, but have a seat, my colleague will be right with you" (in German) and then we would leave dejected, because we had only understood the "No".  I'm not sure that scenario exactly ever happened, but it's not too far off from reality. I can't even tell you how many phone calls I just ended up hanging up on the person because they didn't speak English, and I just didn't have the German skills to communicate anything at all! Now we're able to do most of our communication in some version of German, and I make phone calls all the time. It's not that we're fluent in German by any means, but we know enough to be able to accomplish basic tasks, and that makes life so much easier!

We didn't complete the process of switching our licenses yesterday, because we first had to get an official translation of our Colorado licenses done, and that takes a couple days. But I was able to call the DMV-equivalent and make sure I know what all we need to bring with us, and with any luck we'll be able to complete the process of Monday.

A year of living here hasn't just made communicating easier either. James is in kindergarten now, which means we don't have to take two kids with us every time we do errands, and that honestly makes things a lot easier. David has gotten so used to riding the U-bahn (subway) with me to and from class, that he's hardly any trouble at all so long as he's well fed and rested! Actually he's pretty adorable pointing out the window while we're above ground and naming all the things he sees. "Cah", "bus", "chrain", "Shnow"! He also loves to read books and scribble on paper, so we can get through a half hour on the train without too much trouble at all.

We're also starting to make friends, which makes a huge difference with how settled we feel in general. We've made some good friends through church, and with some of our neighbors and people from James' kindergarten, so it doesn't feel nearly as lonely as it did when we first moved here. I still don't feel even close to as settled, and at home as I felt in Boulder, but it's a lot better than it was. And I guess we lived in Boulder for 7 years, and Colorado our whole lives to get to feeling that well settled! I can really see how God's hand has been on us this last year, and I'm really thankful for how far he has brought us!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


My German class + two little boys have been keeping me so busy, I haven't felt like I've had time to blog. This week I have the week off for Fasching (i.e.. Carnival, Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and all that stuff), so I'm finally getting a break! James still has Kindergarten Wednesday-Friday this week, so David and I are getting to spend lots of time together. It's been cold and snowy outside so most of our time spent together has been indoors. This bad weather reminds me once again how grateful I am for this apartment. A year ago we were still in the terrible blue apartment with the spiral staircase, and days spent inside because of cold weather were just miserable!

My German class has finally started to go pretty well. After about 2 weeks of tears, David decided he was totally happy in his little class, and he leaves me every morning without any fuss at all. I've even stopped sending him in pull-ups, and he'll use the toilet for his teachers. I find the class to move a little slower than would be my preference, but it's actually really good because it means I don't have to do a lot of studying at home, and I don't find myself having a hard time keeping up. I still do try to study at home, but helps to not feel like I have to or risk falling behind.

It's very interesting though, learning a new language. I probably speak the worst, or close to the worst of anyone in my class, my vocabulary isn't very good, and I'm just not that comfortable rattling off sentences. However, when it comes to being able to learn the material we're given, I'm definitely near the top of the class. I usually don't make a lot of mistakes on assignments and tests, and usually get the answers right when the teacher asks a question. Often my classmates don't really seem to understand at all what we're supposed to be learning. And yet, when they're relaxed and chatting with each other, they do really well. I'm hoping that in the long run, this will pay off for me, and I'll eventually be able to speak German fairly well, and have a good concept of the grammar rules. I also think I'll have an easier time taking the test at the end of the course, since in general I seem to have an easier time with tests and assignments. However, in the short run, my general ability to communicate is definitely not as good, and that can be frustrating.

We've made a big decision in the last few weeks. As much as we enjoy riding the subway everywhere and the freedoms that come with that, we really miss our car, and the freedom that comes with being able to drive wherever you want to go. We've decided to pursue buying a used car, with the idea that we can sell it in a few years when we leave without loosing too much money in the process. Tomorrow we're planning to head in to Munich to see about trading our drivers licenses for German ones. As Coloradan's, we're lucky that we get to just trade our licenses rather than having to endure expensive tests and driving classes that people from some states have to deal with.

We've been around the house a lot lately because of snow and cold weather, so we've been doing lots of "projects." Here are some pictures the boys playing with bath-tub paint and homemade play-doh!

Snow on the mailbox!

Bath paints

They had such a ball with this!

James requested orange and "teal" play-doh

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sick day

Staying home from school today and watching cartoons in our jammies.