Sunday, February 1, 2009

Strangers in a Strange Land…Jan 18

The title should be the name of this blog! We are on day 5 of our German adventure. I just returned from a walk around our neighborhood in Ludwigsburg. It’s a rainy, cold day and we were exhausted, so today was a hang out in the apartment day. It’s Sunday, too, and literally, everything is closed. Restaurants and leisure centers are the only things that seem to do business. There is an indoor pool and an indoor skating rink right down the road and the places were packed, so I guess that is what people do on a dreary day like today. 

We are settling in OK. I think Oskar is still struggling with city life. We are starting to develop a routine of taking him down to pee. Our apartment is on the 4th floor so it is kind of a hassle, plus there is so much snow still on the ground that he isn’t quite sure where to go when he’s out there. I think I was scolded by our neighbor yesterday.  Our building has 7 apartments in it, two on each floor and our on the top. When we first arrived here on Thursday there was an old man peering out of the 2nd story window as we loaded our stuff in. His wife is equally as nosy and it so happened that Oskar pooped on the stairs as I was bringing him down to do his business. I thought I picked up all of it, but as we left the apartment an hour or so later I saw a turd right on the first step outside this lady’s door. I picked it up, assuming no harm done. The next morning when I was coming up the stairs after another Oskar session, she had the door open and said something to me (she is German so I couldn’t tell if she was yelling or not), pointing to the dog and saying the one word I understood “hund” (dog). I did the whole “Sprechen sie English”? But she waved me off and closed her door. So I am not sure if she was saying something about the crap on her step or the dog is cute, there’s supposed to be no dogs in this building, or what. I saw her today when I was outside and I waved to her. She waved back, so I guess we are on good terms. 

Our apartment is nice! We are happy and comfortable here. It is in a modern apartment block…there are 6-8 other buildings surrounding us that look exactly the same.. There is a courtyard in the middle that has a playground and large grassy area, which will be nice in the spring. It’s covered in snow right now though. It is fully furnished, pots pans, everything but more than 1 roll of toilet paper. There are bed sheets and cleaning supplies. The slanted ceilings have been an occasional nuisance, but we are getting used to them. The oddest thing is the shower is installed under one of the slants, so there is hardly any room to's not a shower I will be hanging out in. Mayzie has adapted well to her room…the single bed in there dwarfs her and we brought her comforter with us, so she has been comfortable.  We even have cable TV, although only 2 English stations, CNN and MTV. Too bad, because it looks like there are some quality German shows on…one day maybe. So we have relied on crappy news and reality shows. They show subtitles so maybe we can pick up some German…when talking is going on, I can’t pick up anything. We got our DVD player hooked up and our portable Bose system. Can’t get a wireless connection going for the computer, so we will have to spend the money for a connection. We found out how to do it, but we need a German bank account before it is possible. I am meeting with Bettina tomorrow to go the immigration office to get registered and to open up a bank account and then to a meeting with my new colleagues at High End Engineering in Stuttgart. I still have no idea when I will begin work, but should find out more tomorrow. 

Bettina turned out almost like I imagined her—an energetic, young lady. She is so helpful, it really is amazing. On Friday, we went into Stuttgart and into a T-mobile shop to find out about internet and phones and such—we need a German bank account for the phones too. Jenna had her US cell phone on her and with a German SIM card, it worked, so I paid 15 Euro for some minutes on it. I called Bettina to test it out and she gave me a bunch more info about trivial stuff. It feels good to have a reliable connection over here. 

The language thing has been a challenge, but everyday we are gaining confidence. Nearly every encounter has been awkward. We can say something in German but as soon as the answer comes, we have no idea what they are saying so we revert to sign language and English. Younger people inevitably know English, but older people seem to not. We went out to Ikea when we had the car still and it took two cashiers to realize that they do not take Visa or MasterCard…only cash?! Crazy. Getting on the local bus here in Ludwigsburg was also awkward as hell. There is an awesome vegetable market in the town square on Saturdays. It is our goal to be able to order some veggies by next Saturday. WE CAN DO IT! Just have to be calm and confident. I hate expecting people to know English, but at this point its all we got. We’ve been focused on learning more, so it will come soon enough. 

Ludwigsburg is great---we are like 20 minute walk from the train station and 10-15 from the town center. There are 2 large grocery stores 5-8 mins walk away and a large forest 2 mins away. Parks are everywhere—it’s just too cold and wet right now. Can’t wait for spring…bikes, beer gardens, and greenery. 

Sorry this is so long. Jenna said I should stop…people wont read this much haha

Oh yeah…it’s true, German beers are cheaper than water! 75 cents for a 1/2 liter of good beer, $1 for a 1.5 liter water in the grocery stores….. HAPPY!


DarrenDriven said...

Jenna is wrong, some morons will read everything you write. Haha...

Troy said...

"she is German so I couldn’t tell if she was yelling or not"

Nice. And you were the typical American leaving poop on doorsteps.