Monday, November 14, 2011

Truth of the matter...

Sometimes you just need to give into the reality that life follows you wherever you go.  We live in this beautiful place and are in a position to travel to incredible locations easily and affordably.  The truth of the matter is though, life is still life, and moving to a foreign country is no cake walk no matter how incredibly "cool" it might be.  I've always been a "glass is half full" kind of person, and I really dislike being that person to complain or accept when things aren't going perfectly well.  I have to let you in on a little secret, this move to Germany was not devoid of stressful moments, depressed feelings, and frustration.  We live the high life, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here. That said, sometimes I have to let myself be ok with accepting that not everything is perfect and to admit that I don't have all things under control.  Things are just harder over here.

Life is a funny thing.  We get very accustomed to our American ways and the comforts that we feel in our customs.  When you travel to a foreign place, it's new and exciting and you temporarily adjust to the oddities or discomforts of being in a country that speaks a different language, but you get to go home and fall back into the swing of life in the comforts of the place you know best.  When we moved here, it was definitely new and exciting - it still is - life goes on, however, and I'm not sure I was as prepared for dealing with the punches life can throw at you while living in foreign place.

The language barrier.  Before we moved to Germany, we had already decided we were going to dive right in and learn the language.  Living in Germany is the best way to do this, right?  This is true, I only imagine this has to be the best way to learn and master the language because you are able to practice it every day.  I thought it would come quickly though. I really did.  I wasn't prepared for the immobilizing fear of speaking German or how difficult it would be to understand what people were saying or asking me.  I found myself almost in tears on many occasions just wishing with all my might that I knew German already.  I will say you get much more comfortable in those awkward situations over time, especially when you are willing to learn.  But buying food is one thing - it's not too tough to order a beer or translate a menu.  Set up internet and telephone in your house with a large German company without speaking a lick of German and you have a true challenge on your hands.  Before you know it you're asking a salon for an oil change or a chair manufacturer to dogsit.  That or you have paid a month's salary on a phone bill because the rules were in German.  It's fun to be able to look back on those moments with some comedy and laugh.  We all have our methods of dealing with these situations.  I have lost my ability to be embarrassed or to care too much what anyone thinks of me.  Big R has decided that it's best to let me be the one getting embarrassed and he steps out of the way and let's me take charge with gusto. My German is even more horrific with a shot of gusto, but at least it's horrific with some consistency.  My goal is to have this language nailed by next summer. Lofty goal, you say?  Just watch me...

Let's now throw in a little mix of the military.  Yes. Not sure I have much to say here that I haven't said many times before.  I know the Army has been doing this for a long time. Maybe that is why it seems so incredibly unreal for things to be so difficult.  It's not that people won't tell you what you need to know.  The problem is, you have to know the right question to ask and the right person to ask it.  Enter here story about passports, drivers licenses, and...I'll stop here - I'm feeling my chest tighten, so I'm going to change the subject.

I was embarrassed to admit that I found many of these challenges overwhelming.  Recently I started to notice that it wasn't just me.  Other Army spouses were dealing with many of the same frustrations and having very similar reactions.  Turns out we are all only human, so I suppose that makes it ok for me to admit that a really awesome situation can often be overwhelming as well.  What helps get us through all these stressful situations is each other.  We finally started meeting more people and have made what I think will be some life-long friends.  Not only has the administratively challenged Army provided us with some awesome new buddies, but we had the incredible fortune of having our new neighbors speak English and we have quickly become friends.

So, the truth of the matter is, we have gone through a lot since we moved here. It hasn't been easy, and we are constantly feeling overwhelmed with administrative processes gone awry, jobs that we hate, or customary differences making things that we are accustomed to being simple be ridiculously difficult.  But we are making good friends, adjusting to the customs, and learning German.  When the hard stuff finally becomes customary, you might just have a tough time getting us back. 

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