Tag Archives: expat

day thirty five

14 Sep

1. yoga, yoga, yoga!

no, unfortunately i didn’t actually go to yoga today, but i found a studio that has classes in english (and it’s the ONLY website [surprisingly] that i’ve seen in english here) and i’ve heard that it’s a great studio.

i’ve been thinking a lot about my job, you know, now that i have one, and though i’m so grateful to have gotten good offers here, i was a bit let down after my first day. i didn’t love it. and, i suppose i knew that, having left barcelona feeling burnt out and uninspired after four years of doing it.

but i’ve also been thinking about the environment that i create for myself and being responsible for my own happiness. yoga makes me happy. it’s that simple. every time i go, i feel so clean and clear and peaceful after. and it’s the one thing that even at my worst moments in the past year, i could get out of bed to do. because i crave that feeling, because yoga is such an excellent workout and also because it connects me with a part of myself that i’ve been really closed off from for years.

i realized suddenly, after thinking of both of these things separately, that if i became a yoga instructor, problem solved! so, today i am grateful for yoga and also for my own realization and new-found sense of direction.

2. new friends

today i went to the welcome back brunch, expecting to just hang with the ladies i’ve already met at thursday coffeetime, but to my surprise there were a few younger gals walking around! they were all newbies to germany as well and seemed really nice and quite into the idea of having a younger member dinner & drinks meet up, which i am excited about. not, of course, that age matters so much in friendship, but it’s still nice to have met some new folks.

me, sashi, elle & lisa

3. all my friends are safe, healthy and happy

this morning, at around 6:30 am (which is EARLY to me), i was woken up by a phone call from my close friend’s husband. and then it hung up. and i lay there, trying to go back to sleep, but there was this little thought wriggling its way from the back of my mind: what if something’s wrong?

now, if there were an emergency, i sincerely doubt he would call me. i am, after all, a continent, an ocean and a couple of countries away, so there isn’t much i could do. but still, there was that doubt. so, of course, i couldn’t sleep.

and about half an hour later, i got a text from her saying that he had just been showing her mom ‘skype’ and had called me on accident and, though it didn’t make me go back to sleep (unfortunately), i was so relieved.

being away from my friends is rather difficult at times. knowing they are where they are, happily living their lives and becoming even more amazing than they already are, makes it just a little bit better. i’m so grateful that i have them in my life. i often wish that they were closer, or i were, but at the same time, i see bits of them everywhere, in every part of my life. and i’m grateful for everything i’ve learned from them.



day thirty

9 Sep

1. other people get nervous around other people

i found this on pinterest and re-pinned it, which means that not only did someone pin it, but they found it where someone else had already posted it and someone other than that created it – that means there are at least three people out there who need to be reminded of this phrase. though i probably could have rationally said beforehand that there are other people who are anxious around “the outside world”, it’s nice to be reminded of it. i am grateful for everyone else out there who is like me.

2. savings account!

that’s right, today i started a savings account. which means we are well on our way to being bona fide adults. and that means that the next time i visit my parents, i won’t have to ask my dad to help me out with some miles for my ticket! we’ll have saved for the trip (you know, again, like “real” people). this also means that the next apartment we get can be unfurnished and we can buy furniture and i can finally have the things i want all around me! and we can have babies and not be stressed about supporting them! we can take vacations!

ok, maybe i’m getting a little carried away. we didn’t put that much money in there, after all… but still, i’m very grateful for the start of our little nest egg.

3. another class!

today when i went into my work (i feel so fancy saying that – again, like a “real” person with a job) to plan my lesson for monday, they gave me another class! so now i am a working teacher with TWO classes. impressed? i thought so.

as a side note, i completely forgot to ask when the class starts so i have no idea what time to show up. still impressed? 😦

day thirteen

23 Aug

1. sketching

this is a horrible picture and i apologize for that, but i took it from my phone and frankly, it’s kind of hard to take a good photo of a light pencil sketch. but that’s not really the point, as i’m not posting it as an amazing example of my “art”, i’m just so thankful to myself (for a change) to be sketching again.

i always used to sketch, the same as i always used to write, and when i was around fifteen, i sort of forgot who i was in my mad dash to become anyone else possible and i stopped doing all the things that were so essential to me, so it’s so important to be starting those again, over fifteen years later.

today, i both sketched and wrote and while it wasn’t a great day in other ways (i didn’t exercise and i ate too much pasta), it’s a start. it does seem that everything i’m doing is leading towards my being happy in future, hopefully. doing things like sketching make it feel even more possible.

(please ignore the hands – i just ignored that they were there. baby steps.)

2. looking for a new wohnung

while our apartment has been wonderful and clean (which, after barcelona, was a huge plus), i’m ready to move and i know my husband is happy here, so i’m grateful that he’s willing to move as well. i’ve started looking into different apartments around the city and sent out a lot of emails today. some of them are furnished, and some not. it’s hard to search for an apartment when you don’t really know how long you’ll be in a city. there’s a big part of me that wants to buy my own furniture and paint the walls and really make it my own, but what if we just move in a year or so? too difficult to say, so i’ve just decided to look around and what will be, will be. i’m just going to assume (as an optimist would) that the right place will present itself.

3. kaufpark cashier

i see this woman almost every time i am shopping at kaufpark, my local grocery store. i remember her because she looks seriously like allison janney. she’s very nice (at least, i think so, not being able to understand anything she says) and she’s always smiling and seems to remember shoppers and chat with them. today, as i was checking out, she asked me where i got my peaches, or what type of peaches i had or something about my peaches. i, of course, have no idea what she was saying because i don’t even know the word for peach.

but, she asked the question, and then looked up at me and smiled so sincerely and said (again, just guessing here) never mind and looked up the code and entered it in, smiling at me again. she seemed particularly aware of my being uncomfortable at not understanding her and instead of judging me, as many have both here and in barcelona, she was very sweet and kind. and beyond that, she remembered me. it wasn’t that she asked me and i said the only thing i can say: ich spreche kein deutsch, she recognized me and knew who i was.

even though we can’t have any sort of conversation, it’s nice to feel part of a community where my local supermarket cashier knows me by sight.

day eight

18 Aug


1. therapy

 while it should be pointed out that it hasn’t completely changed my life yet, when i went today, i was having a bad day. i almost canceled and just didn’t feel like leaving the house at all. i’m not entirely sure if i’m feeling very hopeful, but when i left, i felt a sense of calm and like i’d figured something out that still hasn’t quite dawned on me yet. i’ve decided to take that positively.

2. “tropical” thunderstorms

i’m not sure if one can say “tropical” when speaking about germany, but suddenly this evening, the sky opened up and started to pour loudly and hotly and then the lightening struck, making the dusk sky even grayer than it was, with tinges of yellow edging the clouds. it was a beautiful moment, and just what i needed.

3. ibuprofen

while it may seem a silly thing to be grateful for, i get headaches and even migraines (though i don’t have one now and frankly, ibuprofen does nothing for them) and i really appreciate that ibuprofen is basically the same in every language, making it easy to have no matter what country i’m in. i have a headache now and have just taken ibuprofen and am about to get into bed and read until my headache goes away. it’s nice to trust that something will work and i will actually feel better and then be able to fall asleep.


day seven

17 Aug


1. my mom

 i don’t know what i’d do without my mother. just talking to her for an hour just makes me feel completely different – loved, cared for, respected, and best, a part of something. aside from james, it’s so easy to feel so isolated and lonely here in this country where i know no one and don’t speak the language and that feeling of belonging is so important and my mother is just my favorite person to talk to. and god bless skype.

2. veggie burgers

although i’ve definitely been spoiled by the plethora of vegetarian food, restaurants and consciousness of california, i am so grateful that i can still buy yummy veggie burgers here in germany. i’ve even found a few different brands and can choose my favorite! today we had some very good (but very, very small) veggie burgers with lots and lots of pickles. yum.

3. the bank lady at sparkasse

i’ve never known a bank to call and ask for us to come in and make sure we’re ok with our service and see if we have any questions. they called james last week and scheduled an appointment with this lady (she was so wonderful and yet still i don’t know her name) for this afternoon. she spoke english quite well and was so helpful. she explained all of our options in terms of savings accounts and credit cards, but her advice was, go home and think about it. james, who has worked at various banks, came out laughing, surprised she hadn’t tried to sell us anything. but she really seemed honestly concerned that we get the right program for us and i really appreciate that. especially because i really did have a lot of questions. she answered every single one. customer service at its best (something that was definitely lacking in barcelona).


day six

16 Aug


1. couch to 5k

having a program like this one actually helps me stick with it. this morning, i got up at 8 (which might be normal to some people, but is unfortunately not for me) and went for a run before going to cologne. last night as i went to sleep, i wasn’t sure i was going to make it, and i might not have if i weren’t on a set program that i have to do three times a week. i appreciate that someone designed this program for idiots like me and that someone else made a free app out of it for my phone so that i don’t have to time myself or buy one of those fancy watches.

2. book exchange

though normally i’m very anti these sorts of events (who actually wants to give away books? i just don’t understand.), i figure the more things that get me out of the house and talking to real live people, the better. and, of course, it’s better than any event without books. when i arrived and sat down, i saw, conveniently placed just in front of me, a book that i’d been wanting to read for awhile now. i’ve read two others in the series, and i really enjoy them. i had just been thinking that i needed a new “easy” (as in, the type of book i wouldn’t have read or admitted to reading ten years ago – luckily now i don’t care) book and now i’ve got one that i’m excited about!

3. finding my way around cologne

i’m very grateful for my smart phone because it gets me around my new city, albeit not very well. i have no idea why this city is so confusing! today, however, i made it to the starbucks on breite straße for the book exchange all by myself and felt just for a second like i was really starting to understand a little bit about the way the city was laid out, which is a nice feeling.


day one

11 Aug


1. the american women’s club in cologne

not only would i not know anyone here in cologne (or in all of germany, really) if it weren’t for them, but in general i have never felt so readily accepted into a community before. every time i have coffee with someone or meet up for a book discussion, i really feel that everyone is looking out for everyone else. when we went to the fourth of july barbecue, people sought me out to welcome me and introduce themselves to james (my husband). i was amazed!

today, i left the house feeling icky and blah – for no reason. i sort of forced myself to go to the coffee meeting and because they are such varied and interesting women, i found that i was completely brought out of myself, which is just what i needed.

2. asian wok restaurants

i seriously love noodles (rice noodles especially) and about three years ago, these “take away” style wok restaurants started opening up all over barcelona and they are here as well. some days, i don’t know what i’d do without some tofu and noodles all drenched in a fabulous coconut curry or sweet chili sauce. comfort food at its best.

3. playing hooky

james chatted me earlier saying that he just wasn’t feeling up to german class today and as we are flying to england early tomorrow morning and still need to pack, maybe we just shouldn’t go. a little part of me knows we should be good adults and go, after all, we live in this country and really should be on top of learning the language so we can communicate with people and stuff, but sometimes it is the best thing in the world to ignore that adult part and just relax. now, i’m sitting on my couch (having just finished my noodles that i got on the way home) and i don’t have anywhere to be all evening. fabulous.