Monthly Archives: July 2013

People Are People. Everywhere.

Being an expat can sometimes be lonely. I often times find myself searching for ways to meet new people, find new groups and seek out people in similar situations. Upon this search one day, I came across an article about expat parents raising their children in a foreign place. While reading this article, I discovered I was familiar with the two expat bloggers they referenced. This made me more curious so I began searching about the site. I found that the Young Germany has a lot to offer, including their own blog. If you check it out, you will see that yours truly has been featured as a guest on their site today. You can see my post here or below.

People Are People. Everywhere.

As featured on Young Germany

7.1 billion. Let that soak in for a minute as you contemplate just how large this number actually is. According to the United States Census Bureau (2012), as documented in Wikipedia, that number is the total population on Earth. It’s almost overwhelming when you think of it in that manner. To top it off, those 7.1 billion people are spread out over 193-196 (depending on your source) countries. With each person being unique, each country having its own culture, it would be safe to assume that we are all very different. It is therefore understandable that when traveling to a foreign country some people may have this fear or uneasiness that the people will be so different that there are no similarities. This is a hard feeling to describe and I know it exists because I have felt it myself.

This is my second time living in Germany so you would think that this fear would have been non-existent upon my return; however, it wasn’t. Granted, it was less than before, but the overwhelming process of adjusting to a new culture can make even the most outgoing of people a potential hermit. But the more you go out and interact with people in your new country, the more you realize we really aren’t that different. Sure, we have different foods and cultural norms, but our inner core is still that of a human being.

My husband and I were out running errands one day and people were driving too slow or too fast, cutting you off, flying through parking lots, parking like they are still in driving school and I said to him,“I guess nothing changes no matter where you live; you still have idiots everywhere“. That’s when it hit me, people are people everywhere. We all make mistakes. We all have feelings and emotions. We all have goals and dreams. We are all out trying to survive and enjoy life. So why should I be so nervous about interacting with these people? They are no different than I am and more than likely, they are just as nervous about interacting with me. Many times, this is the exact reason why a German who knows English won’t speak it which is again, no different than this American who is learning German but afraid to speak it.

Fear. Excitement. Love. Hate. Happiness. Sadness. Knowledge. Ignorance. It’s all the same regardless of where you live. So, don’t be nervous and get out there and enjoy the differences while relishing the similarities! Happy travels!

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Beat The Heat Saturday

M and I woke up Saturday morning, unlike the rest of the country, dreading the high temperatures we knew we were in store for yesterday. The past few weeks have been hot but not as hot as it was supposed to be today (around 105F) and then add the humidity and you can just throw comfort out the window. I had to wonder: Has living in the States spoiled us? Have we become dependent on luxuries such as air conditioning? And why don’t I remember it being this hot here when I lived in Germany previously? Maybe because it wasn’t!

So, instead of staying inside our heat-laden roof apartment, we decide to go to what M referred to as a “pond party”. It was a nice large area by the vineyards of his uncle’s hotel, mostly surrounded by large trees, with a decent sized pond. Apparently the party was all weekend so when we arrived Saturday afternoon, people were recovering from the night before! :) Little M ran around, loving feeling his feet in the grass and exploring all the new sights and surroundings. Big M was having a beer and visiting and for me? Well, I was mostly feeling more hot and wondering why I was outside. Bah humbug summer! But the atmosphere was nice and when the breeze would blow, it wasn’t so bad. Before I knew it, it was time for lunch and I have to admit, I was surprised. Of course there were the typical Bratwurst and Brotchen, but this expat was more than just a little confused when she saw bowls of soup being served. But we all sat down and ate, what I soon discovered to be, Goulash. And wow, it was good. In case you have never had it, this dish is full of tender meat, potatoes, onions, red peppers and zucchini.

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I still couldn’t believe I was eating soup, but who could turn down something so good? However, the heat continued to rise so we decided to go for a drive and enjoy the AC in the car. As we drive around, I see everyone out and about; walking, riding bikes and motorcycles, enjoying the sun. Seriously people? IT IS HOT OUTSIDE?!

We ended up in Bernkastel and decided to go for an ice cream. Germans love their ice cream so much that they have “Eis Cafes”. It’s a beautiful thing…..trust me. Just check out this menu and that’s only first page! I can’t believe it took me this long to experience it!

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We sat down at a cute little table and enjoyed an amazing treat. Our waitress was super friendly, even speaking English to me (although not necessary) and bringing extra wafer cookies for Little M.

Krokantbecher

Krokantbecher

From my seat this is a view of the shopping area to my left

From my seat this is a view of the shopping area to my left

You even have the option for Italian "Eis" across the street

You even have the option for Italian “Eis” across the street

The goodness was soon over and we decided to head back home. For a day I thought I was going to hate, it turned out to be pretty sweet. ;-)

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I’m On Facebook!

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Well, I decided to make this blog more readily available and perhaps more easy to follow for some, by creating a Facebook page. Please stop by and “Like” me and share with your friends! And, to liven it up a bit, yours truly has been given the opportunity to be a guest blogger for a German/English publication!! Updates to follow!

Cheers!

Goodbye, H

photo 2I feel it’s important to start off with the fact that I am not good at letting go or saying goodbye to anyone that has become a part of my life. I have tried to maintain friendships despite betrayals, through miles of distance, divorces, and usually without equal reciprocation. Why? I have no idea anymore. It is just not healthy and beyond that, it gives the impression I don’t respect myself. Maybe I didn’t, but I do now. M has helped open eyes to a lot of things about myself and what I really am capable of doing. Our relationship has shown me that people really do treat you, the way you allow them to. You really can hold people accountable and demand to be treated in a certain way.

Let me explain. When M and I first started dating, we were both just coming out of bad relationships. I was in a dark place and determined to stay there alone; not to be miserable, but to be numb. M fought to be with me. Being in that dark place allowed me to be brave because I didn’t want to care anymore (if that makes sense). That being said, it was the first time in my life that I set the standard for how someone would treat me. I didn’t chase him, but in fact tried to push him away. I told him everything about myself; the dark and the light and he did the same. But just when I almost pushed too hard forcing him to walk away, I stopped pushing. I allowed myself to love him. Now, I’m sure that doesn’t speak to healthy in any way but my point is that I set the bar for how I wanted to be treated. I was finally brave enough with someone (despite for the wrong reasons) to say “Hey, this is what I want and who I am. If you’re okay with that, than great. If not, there’s the door”.  I’m sure most of you are thinking, “don’t you always do that” and the answer was no. I was never brave enough to face the rejection of someone saying “thanks but no thanks”. And now, I have the best relationship of my life. He is my husband but he is my absolute best friend and we only grow closer and stronger.

photo 3I decided to learn from this and let go of the toxic people in my life which really boiled down to one person, H. She and I have been friends for almost 30 years. However, I think friends is a pretty loose term and would be better described as she is the puppet master and I the puppet. I have no idea where she ever got this control over me, but a few years ago, I noticed it was there….well, M noticed. She has always been capable of “persuading” me to do things I don’t want to do. She really isn’t a bad person and in fact, some would say she has a heart of gold. But, when it comes to me and her, she is a user and a manipulator. I truly don’t believe she had any malicious intent, but I do believe she is immature and selfish. Aside from the unhealthy issues in our relationship, we were growing apart. She is stuck in 1994 and I have grown up. I don’t want to relive all the crazy things I did every time we go out. I also don’t think our versions of reality are the same. I have goals and dreams and most do not include the local tavern every night of the week. I also despise hypocrisy. Go ahead H, make your life appear one way on Facebook, but I know what lies behind closed doors.

So, yesterday I said goodbye to her; I deleted her from my Facebook as well as her contact information. I originally thought I would hear about it, but I think she knew as well as I did that this was inevitable. We were only maintaining a dying friendship out of obligation to the past. Again, not healthy….and even as I sit here and write about the reasons to say goodbye, I still struggle with the decision. I know it is because I care, that I am compassionate and that I treasure my friendships. However, I need to treasure myself. I was brave enough to pack up my life and relocate to a whole new country, I should learn to be brave enough to love myself.

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Funky Town

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Yep. That pretty much sums up how I have been feeling lately which is also my poor excuse for abandoning my blog and writing. I can’t truly explain why although I know there are reasons. When I ask myself why, I come up with answers, justifications and excuses for this funk I am in, but I think they don’t satisfy me because none of them are really a big deal. So, I feel that the general root of this dark cloud looming over my head for weeks, would simply be culture shock. As much as I would hope to deny it, being as I have lived here before, I can’t. Becoming an expat is hard. Leaving everything you know, everything that is “comfortable” behind is overwhelming. All of sudden, you are submersed in this land that you don’t understand and add language barriers to that to make you feel almost completely defeated. To add to my struggle, having a toddler makes it more difficult for me to just go out there, explore and learn things the hard way. A one year old has ZERO patience for that.

But, at my core, I am an optimist and a dreamer. Never in a million years would I think I would describe myself that way, but this journey has taught me that. I believe in the good more than the bad which is sometimes why reality (i.e. bad times), can take its toll me rendering me helpless but to succumb to the darkness and negativity. I miss myself and my happy, hopeful thoughts.

It finally occurred to me today that instead of running away from writing, I should be doing MORE OF IT! Writing and music have always been the two things to calm me and adjust my attitude right in the moment (aside from M, of course). I need to go back to what defines me and fuels my soul. I need to maintain ME, even though I am somewhere foreign. I know this stuff. This is not new or revolutionary thought here….but somehow I forgot it, lost it or blocked it. Now I remember. Goodbye, Funky Town.

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