Life in Germany: The Learning Curve

57 Alps from Hilltop in Aufkirchen

(View of the Alps from our village in Bavaria.)

Jim and I live on two continents. We live in Germany much of the time where we work for Europe Young Life. When not in Germany or traveling around that part of the world for work, we visit our family and friends in Texas. And somewhere in the midst of all this traveling and living, I write. After four years of residing in Germany, there are still so many things yet to learn. Sadly, German is something I’ll always be learning. It’s a bit more complicated than say, Spanish.

58 Berg Kitchen Before

(The BEFORE shot of our kitchen. This is how they come. This is why IKEA exists people.)

There are some really funny/fun things I’ve learned since moving there. I’d like to share a few with you. The first thing we did when arriving in Bavaria was look for an apartment. As providence would have it we found one the first day. Something you should know about many German apartments, they do not come with light fixtures, closets, or a kitchen. Really. So we spent days and days in IKEA designing and ordering a kitchen, light fixtures, and Shranks (closets). This would have been a lot more fun if we knew German. All part of the “living overseas” adventure. (Side note: we are currently moving away from Munich to the Black Forest. This means we have to take our light fixtures and yes, kitchen with us. Really.

59 Berg IKEA Kitchen

(The AFTER picture of our kitchen. I love this kitchen! European appliances are awesome.)

Something you should know about our move is that my husband grew up in LA, and I grew up in Texas. We’d neither one lived where it snowed. When we arrived in February of 2008, the ground was covered in snow and it remained until Easter. Jim discovered he loves living where it’s cold. I, on the other hand, discovered I love wearing winter clothes: warm wooly sweaters, hats, scarves, gloves, boots. In April, when the snow began to melt the item in the below picture appeared. It had evidently been buried all winter in a ditch near the parking lot of the local hardware store.

60 Octopus Salat

As I stepped out of our car and saw the jar i realized why it had been left there. I imagined a child was sitting in the back seat of their car, digging through the grocery bag and saw that their mother had purchased this for dinner. They grabbed it and quickly tossed it out the window, pretending to be playing with the window button. I mean really, OCTOPUS SALAD. Who eats this? I know, I know. Some of you are saying, “I love Octopus Salad!” Fine, to each his/her own then.

Speaking of throwing things out. Let’s look at another common scenario. You buy a pack of gum at the grocery and on your way out you open the package, pull out a piece and pop it in your mouth. Now you’re standing there holding the wrapper and wondering, “What do I do now?” See below picture for further instructions.

61 German Gum Wrapper

(Am I the only person who thinks this is really funny?)

Okay, enough about kitchens and food. Let’s talk about animals. The Germans have a special love of animals, which I for one, appreciate. Dogs all live indoors, unless you live on a farm and even then, I’m sure they come and go. They all go to obedience school and because of this are welcomed in stores and restaurants, and anywhere else they fancy, except grocery markets, where they are carefully tethered outside the door along with the baby-strollers, babies still in them. Markets are very small and not conducive to dogs or strollers. We live in a small village just south of Munich by a beautiful Alpine lake, the Starnberger See. The next two pictures deal with living in the country and animals.

62 Funny Dog Sign

This first picture is posted in front of the field next to our apartment. I could translate it for you, but I don’t think there’s any need really. You get the picture? Literally.

Now just in case you’re wondering why the dog can’t well…you know in the field. It says it’s because they grow things for human consumption there. The only thing I’ve ever seen grown in that field, besides wild flowers, is grass they cut for hay. However, we do appreciate the sign. Especially in the summer.

Okay, I’m going to wrap this up. I have so much more to share but I’ll do it in small bites here and there. So as not to offend my dear German friends, I DO realize I could easily be writing about anywhere in the US with funny photos to boot. (In fact, I have a picture just waiting in the wings right now. I took it across the street from our Texas apartment. It’ll appear in my blog in the near future. I promise.)

29 Frog Crossing German Sign

This last photo is the perfect one to end with. I know you’re asking what can this mean? FROGS! Before I tell you, take a moment and guess. Then, be sure and let me know in the comments what you’re guess was. This could be fun.

Like I said, we live by a beautiful lake. We can’t actually see the lake from our apartment. It’s across the road and down the hill. If we could see it we would have to pay a lot more money for the apartment. It’s very close though. We can walk to the lake in about three minutes. Anyway, because of the water there are a couple of weeks every spring when the frogs leave the woods and make their pilgrimage to the lake to deposit their eggs. They do this in great numbers. The above sign is put up temporarily to remind you to BE CAREFUL and WATCH OUT for frogs. In fact, they put up little green mesh fencing along both sides of the road to keep them from crossing on their own. (This photo was taken just before the wee fences went up.) Then a chosen person from the village checks them often and hand carries the frogs to the other side to safely hop on their way.  This happens all over Germany. I’d like to say at this point, I swerve for all animals in the road, so I love this tradition. And there it is! I don’t know what else to say about this. Are you smiling?

6 thoughts on “Life in Germany: The Learning Curve

    • Oh my, no! We always tried to catch them and take them back outside. Although, once someone told me they eat tiny bugs and SPIDERS, I decided I didn’t mind them in my house. I don’t think I could ever swat them, not judging here, Jan. I just think they would squoosh. Eww.

  1. I have to smile because I too swerve for frogs, squirls,chipmonks,birds,deer,and all other furry woodland creatures. our dogs not only live inside but they sleep on the bed,couch, and my chair(!) They go on vacation with us and stay in dog friendly hotels and run down the dog friendy beaches.I made the decision of getting a minivan because it was more comfortable and roomy for them when we have all 5, 3 of ours and 2 of Marshalls. I can relate sister!

    • Jim, I really miss our dogs! They originally belonged to our kids who were off in college. But they became mine. When we moved to Germany we gave them to the boys(and Tab). We are too transient to have a pet. This makes me very sad indeed.

  2. Terri. . I shared your blog link with Thornton because he is double majoring in political science and German and will be living in Germany next year. When I told him I had known your family my whole life he asked how old you were because “the girl in the picture is about twenty.” :)

    • First of all, Lauri, I’m not sure what picture Thornton was looking at but I’ll take the compliment! Let us know where he’ll be living. We have friends all over the country. We’ll be moved from Munich to the Black Forest soon. He’s always welcome to visit!

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