February 13, 2013

A Year Abroad!

We have lived in our home in Grafenwoehr now for a whole year!  When we moved in to our house, I was 9 months pregnant, and rushing to unpack/set up all our rooms before Lily was born. A year later and we STILL have rooms that have paint only halfway done, boxes unpacked, and organization issues. Sigh. I must put up pictures of the house and give you all a home tour. It really is quite a neat house, old, quirky, but charming too. This is the front door. We hardly use it because the parking spots we have lead to the back door easier.

I've been thinking lately about so many of the things we will miss when we move in a few years. Right now the plan is to move back in two years, but who knows... There are so many wonderful things about living in Europe, especially Germany. I really love Cooper's Kindergarten. Cooper's teachers really encourage him to speak German at school, and he is getting much better. They do "sport" a few times a week, go for hikes in the woods on Fridays, and have so many fun celebrations/parties throughout the year where they prepare dances/songs/skits for the parents to enjoy. The lunches he gets make me envious, served by a local Metzgerei. His favorite is a warm milk rice dish with applies and cinnamon. I really look forward to the day when Lily can go with him to the Kindergarten.
I also love the availability of fresh food. We literally have over 6 bakeries right here in Grafenwoehr, and their are farmer markets in all the towns. Although I must say, they aren't as great as the ones in France, they are still quite wonderful.

As for cultural differences, some of the biggest differences I see are in appearance and work ethic. Everyone dresses up to go out of their house. I always feel like such a slob if I go even to the grocery or bakery with a sweatshirt on or my climbing pants. Not done... Totally can pick out Americans by the clothes they wear out and shoes. You never see Germans wearing sneakers, unless they are the fancy indoor soccer looking type.

When it comes to work, all the Germans I work with are hard workers. However, they do not have a set number of sick days. They can take a paid day anytime. If they take 2 days or more, they have to show a doctor slip. Doctors give slips all the time for stuff that our Doctors would not. Therefore, the numbers of sick days they take is pretty darn high. Plus they get tons of holidays and 30 days leave every year. What I wish we would adopt? German maternity leave.  Maternity leave is amazing here. Women can take an entire year off receiving 60-80% of their former pay, and retain rights back to their jobs for three years.  I'm green with envy.

While we're living over here, are their any things you all would like hear about? If you lived abroad before, any interesting things/differences you discovered?

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