Even Princesses Have Rough Days

Yesterday was a rough one…emotionally.

Yesterday was the first time I experienced a real sense of culture shock.

It doesn’t help that Carson has a cold and therefore is extremely grumpy, irritable and not sleeping well. It also doesn’t help that Jeff and I finally got our “Cultural Training” about how to live in Germany. During the training we were told that culture shock is like a roller coaster with highs and lows. Yesterday was definitely my low.

One of the things on my “To Do” List was to find a pediatrician for Carson. I was provided with the name, phone number and location of an English speaking pediatrician by two of our cultural specialists. Luckily for us, the doctor was less than a five minute walk away. As I wasn’t able to dial the German phone number (yes, I have since figured it out. Apparently one needs to drop a zero in the area code after dialing the country code.), we paid the good doctor a visit.

Talk about a failure! After waiting for half an hour, the receptionist didn’t speak any English*. Thankfully a mother of one of the patients waiting did. She helped translate. I was told that this particular pediatrician was not seeing new patients. When asked if there were any other English speaking pediatricians in the area, the receptionist just shrugged her shoulders. While I stayed composed, this wonderful mother, the same one who had helped me before, saw that I was upset and was able to provide me with the name, phone number and address of another English speaking pediatrician.

Defeated, Carson and I went home. After Instagram messaging with a friend from home, I got the courage to call the newly recommended pediatrician. Again, the receptionist didn’t speak English* but she tried. Success! Not only was this pediatrician taking new patients but I was able to set up Carson’s one year check up (the U6 as it’s known in Germany).

Most days are great. They are, for the most part, easy. Yesterday was not. I need to remind myself that while this has been an amazingly wonderful, once in a lifetime experience so far, I’ll have rough days too.

*Side note-I know I reside in Germany and German/Deutsch is the language spoken. With that being said, many people speak English. If they don’t speak English perfectly they say they only speak a little but in reality, they are mostly fluent and can carry a conversation. My German language instructor has told me that anyone under the age of 35 has probably had five or more years of English in school.

A New Town for Belle

Little town, it’s a quiet village

Every day like the one before….

Our new town isn’t exactly little…according to Wikipedia, it’s the fourth largest city in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state. Population is around 589,000 which is small in comparison to Chicago’s 2,716, 450 the USA’s third most populous city.  Our new town is charming, especially our neighborhood. It reminds me, a little, of our former Lakeview, Lakeshore East and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods in Chicago. We are within walking distance to a plethora of little specialty shops, delicious cafes & restaurants, a variety of grocery stores and the gym. This is extremely helpful as we are a one car household and Jeff uses it to get to work. There is also an amazing transit system (trains, buses, and trams) that gets us to the hauptbahnhof (main train station) quickly and fairly easily.

Since moving, my career title has changed from teacher to stay-at-home mom. There were times that I thought teaching was difficult but I at least got weeknights, weekends, and even holidays off. The job of stay-at-home mom is intense, as I’m sure many can attest to, as sometimes my boss can be a bit mercurial.

Each morning after Jeff leaves for work, I casually start my day with coffee and quietly tiptoe around the house as not to wake Sleeping Beauty. After some alone time, I get the baby up, fed and we head to the gym. The gym is absolutely wonderful! There is a kinder care room, classes, and even a coffee bar! The classes are mostly taught in German but I’m great at monkey see, monkey do. The best part of the whole experience is that Carson loves the kinder care teachers and watching/playing with all the kids.








After the gym, we head to a nearby cafe for some lattes and a bite to eat. I luckily met other English speakers at the gym and sometimes they, as well as our Pilates instructor, join us for coffee and conversation.


There goes the baker with his tray, like always

The same old bread and rolls to sell…

Living in Germany is like living in a Hallmark Christmas movie…or the 90s. I hang out at the mall regularly and the entire town is decked out in holiday lights, greenery, and I walk through the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) regularly. Nobody has a gluten allergy and everything has full-fat! In fact there is at least one, if not two, bakeries on each block (not an exaggeration). All items are freshly baked each day and are so delicious that I forget daily that I pledged the night before to go gluten free (not the best option with all of the deliciousness surrounding me). If it weren’t for me walking everywhere I need to go, even IKEA, I would have gained weight in the two months we’ve been here.


Our grocery stores are small, about a quarter of the size of grocery stores in the states, but still seem to have everything we need. The difference is that instead of having a multitude of choices for one product, you only get two or three. We also shop at least three times a week as opposed to our usual one time per week in the states. There are no “organic” signs on any produce because its ALL organic, not to mention extremely reasonably priced, but that also means it goes bad quickly. We’ve learned quickly that you need to use what you buy within a few days. We’ve also learned quickly that spices don’t exactly taste the same. I never knew I would be so happy to see my American spices while unpacking.

There are a few downsides to living back in the 90’s like people smoking everywhere, paying for most things with cash, tanning bed salons (including the free bed at the gym), everything is mailed through the Deutsche Post (cash card in one envelope, bank pin in another, telephone pin in another, and online pin in yet another), and almost everything outside the Hauptbanhof is closed on Sundays.

Look there she goes, that girl is strange no question…

I didn’t realize this until my Mother In-Law pointed it out but I get stared at…a lot…and unfortunately its not because I’m the most beautiful person in the room. I get stared at because another stay-at-home mommy and I are booking our way through the pedestrian walkway, taking the train with ease, doing mom things and speaking English loudly to each other (yeah, loud Americans…its a thing!). It is not that we are getting disapproving stares, more so stares out of curiosity. In fact, we’ve had people stop us so they could introduce themselves practice speaking English (more on that in another post).