Friday, March 13, 2009

The Honeymoon is Over

Our friend Annett's husband works for a company that hands out a Moving to Stuttgart guide for their foreign workers, so she copied it for us. Very useful, like 2 months ago! Anyways, there is a section in there about "Preparing For Reality: Making the Best of Your Culture Shock". Until I read this, I always thought I was immune to culture shock, but I am showing classic signs:

Culture shock usually hits expatriates after a phase of initial euphoria and is followed by a phase of gradual adjustment and a stable state of adaptation or biculturalism. In the initial honeymoon stage, newcomers are happy delaing with daily life and local people. Similarities between the host and home country are highlighted. Life is great. There follows a stage of irritability and hostility. This is a period of relative bewilderment and disenchantment. Gradually your focus shifts from the similarities to the differences. No longer intriguing, these differences may suddenly seem enormous and troubling. You might find yourself blowing up at small, seemingly insignificant deviations from your own personal norm. The honeymoon is over. You have reached the stage of culture shock.

We gave up high paying jobs, an awesome house, a stable environment for Mayzie, and relative ease and comfort for our move to Germany. When things don't go smoothly, or we are worrying about money, these things are easily highlighted versus how we are living now. I know it isnt fair to do this, but it is natural to lean towards these thoughts. I often feel guilty for dragging Jenna and Mayzie (especially Jenna) out of our comfort zone and into a situation where most things that are super easy and convenient at home are a struggle. This is the stage we are in right now. I know it will pass. 

Some days are really good. Today was a good day. Yesterday we signed the papers for our new apartment, and we have the keys, so we are going to start moving some things over there next week. We have been buying lots of cheap furniture on ebay, so I have to coordinate a rental truck so we can pick it all up. It's surprisingly affordable to furnish a house if you dont mind used stuff, which we do not. So we are happy about that. We are scheduled to be out of our current apartment on March 31. We toured a kindergarten nearest to our new place and it was awesome. Huge playgrounds, a very european/german building--you know, modern, smart, classy, I guess. The lady spoke english and it is a 4 minute walk to our apartment. They have 2 open spots so Mayzie will start April 1! It is 81 euro a month which I think is affordable, that is monday to friday 7:30am (yeah right--Mayzie, you are in for a culture shock of your own!) to 1:30pm. She can actually show up until 10am, so Mayzie's 9am (at least) wake up time might not have to be adjusted too much. The focus of kindergartens over here is not academic--its more about playing and crafts and such. But thats OK. She was so excited about the school and going to school---I know she will do great. She knows "Danke" and "Stuttgart" and "apfelzaft" like they are her normal words now. 
Our tenants are in our house in Portland now (a single mom with 3 kids). Through our rental agency company asking for Jenna's social security number, we found out that the tenants are Section 8, meaning that the government is helping them pay the rent, like 70% of it. So we were a little concerned about that, but it seems like its a good thing since we know that the rent will be paid every month. We have been on Skype with Jenna's parents and my mom, so that makes it a bit easier too.

Got Mayzie a bitchin new bike for 5 euro. Decked it out with a bell and a basket in front. She is stoked beyond words....

It's kind of hilly around our apartment, but our new place is nice and flat so she can ride like the wind there. Plus, it's still cold and rainy here so not good bike weather, although my rides (even in the rain)  to my class at night are great. It's what I love about Europe...the cobblestones and the huge market square here in Ludwigsburg...the bike is the perfect vehichle for exploring.

Keep on keepin on....

PS. Somehow (I guess because of my IP address) the computer knows that we are in Germany, so spell check thinks I have every word misspelled because it's in English. So please excuse the mistakes, I have no computer watching my back, keeping me straight. mkjndjncjincijni!


DarrenDriven said...

I might not comment on every post, but I read them all! I am fascinated by the little details. Keep up the diligent posting!

Anonymous said...

I just read your whole blog, from start to finish, in one sitting! Inspirational dude, you are my idol. I bet you can imagine how much I'd freak out about being in the sort of vague limbo you allude to in some of these posts, but your will is iron and you just deal with it. Sweet. Makes me want to blog! And how the hell do I get one of those self-cleaning toilets in my apartment? -Tyson