It’s nice to begin to settle–settling is an often underappreciated activity. It’s nice to settle into your favorite chair; it’s nice to settle in to a soft, warm bed before a well-deserved rest; and it’s certainly wonderful to settle into a new home, albeit thousands of miles from your last one.
So far, Schmargendorf has treated us fine with its captivating views and convenient shopping layout. With our ever improving German, we’ve navigated the worlds of finance, electronics, retail, postal services and public transportation with little trouble and few casualties. And today brought my first full day of life in German.
Of course we always make the best of our situation, whatever life may hand us, but this experience so far has been a pleasure. Our apartment is well-sized, with a gorgeous balcony. We’ve opened it to other Bosch fellows as we’ve all conquered difficulties like the prepaid “Internet Stick” for surfing the web, and figuring out the best options for phones.
Scheduling has me beginning school at about 9a. Everyone must speak only German once in the school, and classes are held strictly to that rule. Normally classes end at about 1 for me, though today I had a longer one-on-one session with a tutor. From 9a until 5p I spoke and listened to primarily only German, with of course a few shared words in English during short breaks. Once home, the TV is mostly in German, and the lessons of the day still ring in the mind’s tired space.
I’m already feeling more successful as a young professional working and living in another country with another language, though I know bad days will come. In my and others’ experience foreign living often comes with an ebb and flow pattern.
Sometimes you’re at the top of your game, and other times the world seems aimed against you.
With three months of this intensive language emphasis though, I’m sure I’ll advance…at least a little bit.
Settling is comfortable though there are difficulties. It seems our laissez faire attitude about grocery shopping doesn’t fit in here. Whereas we might cruise a store and chat along the way, many folks take a rugby approach to battling through aisles. Fortunately I look like a rugby player, but my wife does not.
Secondly we’ve often been “cut” in lines. That is folks seem to think whatever business we have is less important than theirs. Many times since our arrival has someone said something like “Oh, I just need one thing, so I’m going first, thanks.” Before I can fully translate the sentence it seems we’re demoted in whatever line we were standing. Hopefully our time as “locals” will help us get with the program.
This opportunity is fantastic, and I can honestly say I have no real complaints. I look forward to being a radio journalist abroad, and meeting and working with new and fascinating people. And most importantly, I look forward to nurturing my family in a vibrant, dynamic experience.