"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Six Month Review

We've now been in Germany for half a year. Two months in Marburg, and now four months in Heidelberg. And what a great six months they have been!

Before coming here I was looking forward to a year of adventures in the German landscape, language, and people. I wanted to dive into the German culture headfirst and hoped to emerge invigorated.

During the past several months I think we have strived our best to do just that. We have toured and tramped around the area, taking in the rich history, the diverse architecture and the quaint countryside. In spite of no formal language training, I have surprised myself at the amount of German words and phrases I have picked up--of course, I still find myself in awkward situations on a daily basis on account of my German limitations, but I've learned to take it all in stride. We have found small ways to get connected into the community here--our church, the students in the Father's department of study, other people at the University Guesthouse, other Americans transplated here. In many ways, it is surprising how comfortable and at home we have come to feel in this place.

When people ask how we like living here, the first thing that immediately comes to our minds is how friendly and welcoming we have found the people to be. It could just be my little sidekick Penelope--I mean, who can resist that sweet face?--but other Americans we've met over here have said the same thing. People here seem to be more thoughtful and considerate than in the States. In part, these are simply social conventions. Like if an elderly lady gets on the bus and you are not old, you stand up and offer her your seat. Everyone understands this, and they actually do it.

I have already started to think about the things that I am going to miss once we move back to the States. The first thing I think of is the ability to walk everywhere I need to go. Now the thirty minute walk to the grocery store doesn't even seem like a big deal (unless it's raining or freezing of course). I love walking along the streets past the old buildings, or in the park along the river, or down the bustling Hauptstrasse. I love being in the fresh air, getting some exercise, watching all the sights of the city as I pass by.

The other thing I will miss is the time I get to spend with Penelope. At first, the transition from working full-time to not working at all was difficult. My mind was constantly on my former students and co-workers, and I felt so unproductive and useless. Now I have come to appreciate this different rhythm of life and realize that I should be cherishing every moment I have home with my daughter. I enjoy all the little interactions we get to have together and being by her side to witness every milestone. I will be ready to go back to work when the time comes, but for now I am content.

Here are some other things we have come to love about Germany:

-plenty of green spaces that everyone in the community actually uses

-widely availble and efficient publice transportation

-cheap wine and huge beers (we rarely have to spend more than 3 euros for a bottle of wine)

-all the random festivals and celebrations in the cities

-fascinating history wherever you go

But of course we miss our friends and family back home (and countless other American comforts).

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