What Life is Like Now in Germany
I realized I haven’t shared very much about what life is actually like out here right now.
Sooooo…how about an update!
Just to remind you: we moved to Germany in June, 2020—during the Covid-19 pandemic, and things have been….different.
What our “Culture Shock” Looked Like
Thankfully, this isn’t our first time moving and living overseas, and I think that helped a lot with our expectations and culture shock.
I’m also extremely thankful we had to quarantine for two weeks the minute we arrived in Germany. Those two weeks helped us adjust to the new time zone. Plus, we had ample time to relax and enjoy just being a family again.
(If you’re new here, my husband was deployed from May 2019 until May 2020, and we moved less than a month after he returned home.)
When we moved to Italy, almost a decade ago, I distinctly remember feeling like a mermaid out of water, gasping for air while trying to stand on two wobbly legs.
It took a solid six months before we felt “settled.”
This time everything moved at a pretty even pace and I can safely say we feel settled now, four months later (I actually would’ve said that last month, too).
We knew what to expect when it came to house hunting, and that things run on European/German time and not on America’s fast expectations.
We knew that fast food would be at a minimum and we’d be cooking more often at home.
Before we arrived we also heard that it could take forever and a day to get reliable Internet…which we’re still waiting for. They say we might get it sometime next month. Maybe.
And we also came in knowing that in order to feel settled we’d need to start exploring our area as soon as possible.
It’s so easy to stay home and feel “stuck” after moving to a new country, and especially during a pandemic when you’re encouraged to stay home.
The hard part is taking those first steps and getting to know your new place.
Which leads me to this pandemic. Whew boy. It’s thrown a giant wrench into our plans.
From the time we arrived until now, we had to wear masks inside places in Germany (stores, grocery shopping, etc.).
And since we live on the border of the Netherlands and Germany, we’d go into the Netherlands often.
Up until last week, you did not have to wear a mask in NL. However, as of the middle of October, 2020, regulations changed. Now you do have to wear a mask when you’re in NL.
On top of that, since we’re military, our regulations come from both the country (Germany) and the military (my husband’s specific commander), and his final say (for right now) is that we can’t go to the Netherlands anymore unless we’re going to the commissary (which is located in NL) or to pick up/drop off our kids from school (also located in NL).
This is a huge bummer since I prefer to shop in the Netherlands—there is a large city near us with a great market and great stores, but now that’s off limits.
Speaking of School
The girls both go to a DODEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) school, and they attend in person full time. As of October 2020 it has not been closed for any cases of Covid, which is pretty remarkable.
There is a very high standard of protocols in place to keep them safe, and it starts at home.
We have a check list to look out for on every morning before they leave (temp check, symptoms check, etc.), and then they have a stringent mask-wearing rule from the time they get on the bus in the morning until they get off the bus in the afternoon.
Masks are worn all day unless they’re eating (lunch is served in their classrooms) or if they’re having a designated “mask break,” which happens one-three times a day. They wear them in class and during recess.
There is one-way traffic at the school from the time they get off bus, and they all keep distance (as best they can) when they’re in the school.
Honestly, the kids haven’t complained a single time about anything. Maybe they’re too young to know any different, or maybe kids are more adaptable and resilient than we give them credit for.
Either way, they’re happy to be in school and making friends.
Traveling Around Europe
The absolute biggest downside to being in Europe during a pandemic is the lack of travel happening.
This may sound dramatic, but it hurts my soul that we’re here and can’t explore and travel freely. Especially since my husband’s accumulated a lot of leave over the past 12+ months.
‘Rona has put a serious damper on traveling.
*Please, please, please know how that we realize how blessed we are to live in Germany and literally have castles 15 minutes from our home. We’re not taking this for granted at all…just sharing that it’s hard to not skip over to Italy. These restrictions are hard when Europe is literally at our fingertips.
After we got out of quarantine, we made a slightly spontaneous trip to the Netherlands. We avoided the popular places and checked out Gouda and some windmills.
It was delightful and soothed my wanderlust for a little bit.
We wanted to go somewhere before the kids started school since we weren’t sure if we’d get an opportunity to travel again.
Since we can’t even go back into the Netherlands, I’m even more happy that we took that trip a few months ago.
Traveling Around Germany
The kids are currently on fall break, and our original plan was to explore the Black Forest south of here. But, Covid cases started rising, so we nixed that idea.
We ended up going to a place about four hours east of here called Wernigerode that has very low cases reported (at the time of me writing this and during our visit) .
It was a remarkable trip, and I’ll be sharing more about it soon!
Even though I have a feeling things will be shutting down in the near future, I’m really thankful we found a safe place to check out.
Since the numbers of cases are changing every day, I don’t know when it’ll be safe to travel again, but we’re very, very, very eager to go places, and to have family and friends visit us.
We’re banking on A LOT of hopeful travel in 2022. Two years isn’t too far away, right?
Being Social and Finding Friends
When you live overseas, your military friends quickly become your family, and I’m extremely thankful that we have friends out here already.
It doesn’t even matter that we haven’t seen most of these families in years; you end up picking up right where you left off, you stick together, and help each other out.
We’ve been extremely blessed with several people here being awesome and welcoming. We’re all relatively new and in the same global pandemic PCS craziness, so we’re all in this together.
There are some groups meeting here and there, and I’ve been trying to attend some, but to be honest: when you’ve been a hermit for the past seven months, it’s hard to break out of that shell.
I’m slowly trying to regain my desire to be social again.
In a Nutshell
That’s pretty much it for an update. We’re all doing well, and still enjoying life out here.
Things could be different/better, of course, but we’re rolling with the punches and making do with whatever comes our way.
’tis the life of a military family, right?
If I didn’t mention something that you’re curious about, or if you have a burning question about something, feel free to ask in the comments!
Don’t ever leave Grandma Scharf off your posts ’cause I love reading them! Since I won’t be traveling any more, these are wonderful ways for me to keep up and to learn new stuff. Thank you for including me!
So much going on and constantly changing! Sounds a lot like here. I’m being hopeful that you’ll get to travel to your heart’s content in 2021.