Today marks one year of living as an expat in Germany. On October 12, 2018, Cody and I stepped off a plane into the cool crisp air in Munich, Germany. As time is with all things, it feels like it was forever ago but also hard to believe it has already been one year of living here.
We’re learning a lot and doing our best to create a marriage and life we see for ourselves. We are also doing our best to travel and see as much of Europe as possible! This post will serve as an update on what life looks like in Germany one year later.
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Home is Home
One of my all-time favorite books is “Home is Where My People Are” by Sophie Hudson. Essentially it is a series of stories chronicling the different places she’s lived and lessons she’s learned- the ultimate lesson being that a home isn’t in a physical home but rather wherever you are with your people.
This has been hard because when it comes to “our people,” we pretty much only have each other. We do have friends and I am SO grateful for the people who have welcomed us with open arms, but we still really miss our families and the nearness we had to them back in Texas. (And is why we are so grateful when people come to visit us!!!)
Upon moving, I aimed to do monthly updates about life here and the things we were learning. That clearly didn’t happen because once we got settled, life happened and it left a lot less time for blogging. (See lessons learned for more info on this! 😉 )
Now I am happy to say our house is 99.9% complete. There is one more decoration I’d like to put up in the Kitchen, but I can’t figure out exactly what I want, so the wall stays bare :).
I put together an updated tour of our home (you can also see a tour of it from when we first moved in and I sent a video of it to my family) but we really hope you’ll come and visit us instead! 😉
This past weekend we traveled home from our Vienna/Budapest trip and I spent more time than I care to admit updating my Story Highlights on Instagram. There were a lot of stories I found pre-move (like all the packing craziness) and when we first moved in.
Calling Germany Home
Looking back is always really cool for me, to see the ways God worked in ways I didn’t even know. And to just remember.
Life has become almost “normal” here that I forgot for almost a month our only chair (at the time) was posted up in the kitchen because literally, nothing was in the living room so I didn’t want to be alone in there when I sat in the chair reading.
Or the fact that for the first two weeks we used the neighbor’s camping chairs and our side table (now our blanket basket) as our dinner table.
One of my favorite moments to reflect on is when we went to a Gin tasting class here a few weeks back.
It’s not really about the Gin tasting class at all. But at the place where it was held- Rehorik and 190 Degrees. This is the coffee shop that we sleepily walked into when we arrived in Germany on our Orientation Trip last August.
We made it to the hotel after a 12+ hour trans Atlantic flight, figuring out the rental car situation, and driving in a foreign country. We were hungry and exhausted. So we walked out of our hotel with Google Maps in our hand and not the faintest idea of where we were going.
We stumbled into this little cafe that sold cheese and coffee.
Now it’s the place we get coffee beans from each week and where we took the Gin tasting class. It’s tiny and inconsequential, but I love those little moments.
A Typical Day of Life in Germany
Once things got settled and our house was put together, life really started to settle into a routine. This is actually something I craved back in the U.S. and really looked forward to taking advantage of once moving here.
A Day in my Life as an Expat in Germany
Our daily life typically looks like us both waking up around 6:30 or so. Cody gets ready for the day while I get coffee, lunch, and dogs taken care of.
I send Cody off to work and try to spend a couple of hours reading, journaling, doing yoga, taking the dogs on a walk, or working on my photography/blogging- essentially, taking time to do things that fill me up.
This has been a really sweet time for me and I honestly feel guilty about it most days. Partially because without Cody I wouldn’t be able to spend this time investing in myself. Also because I think of my teaching days and my teaching friends.
I feel torn in this, too, because for so long I worked hard as a teacher and gave up a lot of things that brought me joy because my schedule just didn’t allow for it. Now I am getting to relax a bit. But then I feel guilty because I think about my Cohort 19 Teacher Fellow friends who are still working hard teaching and I just think “why me? why did I get this opportunity?”
It’s something God and I are still working on 😉
However, once I wrap up my morning time, my days are filled with me working on my business, The Simply Organized Teacher. I probably spend 5-6 hours, on average, a day working on it. My ultimate dream is to grow it into a business that replaces my teaching income.
When we move back I want to be able to continue with the flexibility I have now and I plan to do that by creating a profitable business. I’m on my way and planning to make it there by the end of 2020!
Since June I have spent a lot of my time (like 200 hours’ worth of time!) in German lessons. I am doing my best to learn the language through Intensive German lessons. Each class lasts for 20 days, 4 hours straight each day. It IS intense.
Evenings at the Jackson home are a lot less busy than they were in Texas. Although I still struggle with the need to get my never-ending to-do list done, causing me to stay busy until nine at night, I am working towards having more relaxed evenings.
A Typical Week for Us
Once a week I tutor some German kiddos in English and I do enjoy getting out of the house as well as earning some extra income on the side!
Every once in awhile Cody will do “home office” and work from home. It’s so much easier than in Texas and I *usually* enjoy having the company around.
I also spend a lot more of my time at the grocery store than I ever did in the U.S. We usually go once a week, together, to the store for our big buy to get us through the week. We, then, have two to three quick trips throughout the week because bike baskets don’t hold quite as many groceries as Ford Edges.
Our weekends are also a lot more lax simply because we have a lot less to do. No yard to mow, no family to visit, etc. We try to spend time at the park with the dogs at least once during the weekend and Cody has recently taken up smoking barbeque on Sundays.
We have also done A LOT of traveling. It didn’t really feel like it at first, and it felt like we got a “late start” since we didn’t go on our first trip til April of this year.
Since then, though, we have traveled almost every month. You can check out all our travels here!
So far, we both agree our favorite trip has been our trip to Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam.
Lessons We’ve Learned as Expats in Germany
We have learned some lessons. Our dog sitter recently asked us to complete a survey for her on expat life. I might include our answers in a future blog post because I think they are very insightful!
Until then, here are the lessons we’ve learned since being here.
- One lesson I’ve learned is that moving abroad doesn’t fix things. I have this need for perfection and I was hoping by getting a “fresh start” here in Germany, that would go away. It, in fact, did not.
- Life is still busy. Despite what one would think (living abroad, not “working” a typical job) that my life is super easy and carefree. And, it is! But, see #1 above. I am a perfectionist and feel the need to get a lot accomplished to the best possible degree that I can. This leaves me in the exact same spot I was in Texas- always adding things to my to-do list and never taking things off.
- Learning a language is HARD and confusing and I have a ton of newfound respect for my former students (2 in particular) who moved from Mexico into my second grade, English only, classroom
- How to feel a little less awkward when standing in a group of people who are all speaking a different language in work and social situations
- Overplanning vacations can be just as challenging as under-planning
- The importance of having a partner that you can trust in, confide in and be your friend because that’s all we had for the first few months.
- Cody calls this is “honorable mention”- how much I took for granted the conveniences of the American life (like knowing where to find things in the grocery store, how to say “I’m just looking” when you go shopping, etc.)
We don’t know what’s next for us. Cody’s company has recently had a huge carve-out and is also facing some not great economic times. That leads us to believe it is highly likely we will be returning to the U.S. next October (2020).
However, there are some other places we have on our radar as potential “next steps.”
We feel pulled in both places. There is a big part of us that loves Europe and wants to stay just a bit longer and see more places.
But then we also really do miss home, our friends, and are already thinking about our plans for when we do return.
All that to say, we are holding it with open hands. One day we want to stay, the next day we think we’ll be ready to return. Until then, we wait and see what God has in store for us.
Until next time,