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  • Writer's pictureLogan Rose

How Are You Settling In?

It’s a question I’ve been asked over and over again, and I don’t mind it one bit. I’m glad that my loved ones are interested in my life. Still, it’s a question that’s difficult to answer.

The short answer is that I’m not settling in – yet.

We still haven’t found a permanent apartment, and our temporary contract ends in a couple of weeks, so we will have to move to another short-term setup. Although I’ve adjusted to some of the rhythms of life here, they change every day.

On Monday, for example, I got into a routine for work, but yesterday morning, we went to see an apartment (that ended up being out of our price range), and it threw off my whole day.

I also feel like I can’t re-start my teaching practice or search for new writing clients without my home office setup, so that’s been a bit of a bummer.

I know that these are small things when it comes down to it, that I’ve actually been working lots, and that no matter what happens, we won’t be homeless. But I can’t help but think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs (from Wikimedia)

By this theory of psychological wellness, we are missing some level of safety and security. Of course, this means other areas are suffering.

I’ve struggled to get into a flow with work, Sam and I have had some petty arguments, and don’t even get me started on my creative writing life.

I also haven’t been able to make friends yet, so it’s been a bit lonely (especially with the lover’s spats and Sam going off to work every day).

Fortunately, I’ve been keeping up with friends on social media, but as we all know, social media creates its own kind of loneliness (and wastes way too much time, lol).

Overall, I’m trying to be gentle with myself (and with my partner) as we continue to adjust to our new lives here.

I’m also trying not to forget the positives, and there are loads of those.

Moving to a New Country Is Really Exciting

Germany is beautiful, and Heidelberg, specifically, is one of the most gorgeous – and romantic – cities I’ve ever been in.

We’re in a valley surrounded by forests, mountains, and trails. Our current apartment is right next to a waterfall, and we are right in between a castle and a river. It literally doesn’t get better than that.

We also see wildlife every day (mostly birds, toads, and bats), and we can get gelato for €2 anytime we want. I have daffodils on the dining room table, and there are wildflowers absolutely everywhere.

Also, Sam keeps asking me if I’m a witch because we see a toad or two every night, and I recently rescued a bat with the help of BUND Heidleberg.

Rescuing a Bat in Heidelberg, Germany

As far as the bat story goes, we found a bat that looked worse for wear on the sidewalk outside of our apartment. I poked it to check if it was alive, and it was!

We brought the bat up to the apartment, warmed it up, and gave it some water. Then, it started moving around, so we tried to release it.

Turns out, the little guy was too tired to fly away, so we kept him overnight and bought him some mealworms in the morning. I had to feed him by hand, but he perked up a lot after eating – just in time for the BUND representative to take him away for proper care.

I emailed for an update today, so I will keep you guys in the loop, but rescuing a bat was definitely not on my Heidelberg Bingo card. What a fun, sweet little adventure.

Life Here Is a Lot Easier

One other thing I have to acknowledge is that life in Germany is much easier than it was in the United States. I know part of that is moving from the big city of Los Angeles to the significantly smaller city of Heidelberg, but a lot of it is cultural, too.

Here, necessities are affordable, and luxuries are expensive. Back in Los Angeles, it making a nice meal at home and going out to a restaurant cost about the same amount. Food has gotten so expensive in LA that my friend, Adanna, has opted for meal kits instead of grocery shopping because groceries cost too much. That’s actually crazy.

Meanwhile, every time we go to the grocery store in Heidelberg, it costs about €30 or €40 to fill two reusable bags. These two bags contain a weeks’ worth of breakfasts, a few lunches, and five or six meals for dinner.

Put simply, the cost of living is so much more manageable here than it was in LA.

We can also walk everywhere, which is better for our bodies – and we don’t have to deal with all the expenses associated with a car.

If we are tired or pressed for time, there’s also an affordable, functional public transit system, which is awesome.

In addition to being more affordable, life here revolves less around work. Germans work no more than 40 hours a week, they always take lunch, and if people are out sick or on vacation, everyone else just adjusts.

This has been a bit inconvenient, as my laptop needs a repair, and the two Apple technicians in Heidelberg are either sick or on vacation, but I’m happy to know everyone here has time to care for themselves.

Sam’s also been enjoying the environment at work, and there’s no issue if he needs to go in late or leave early to look at an apartment. The administrative team at EMBL has also offered to help us with our search and has temporary, affordable accommodations for visiting fellows and new employees.

It really is a breath of fresh air that work is not the most important thing– and that people tend to look after one another here.

But German Is Really Hard!

I think the biggest challenge for me has been moving to Germany with no basis in German.

I know I’m practicing the language all the time, and I’m diligent with my Duolingo, but there’s so much I don’t know.

As a result, I mostly feel lost and afraid when it comes to social interactions.

Most of the people here speak English, and they are really kind. A friend of a friend, Anna, introduced us to a great café and took us on a walking tour around the city just out of the goodness of her heart. Most shopkeepers are willing to practice with us and teach us key phrases, or they just speak English so we can all survive the transaction.

Unfortunately, some people are not so nice about it – we’ve had a lady snap at us for speaking English at a Chinese restaurant (this one has layers), and a landlord told us not to bother applying for an apartment if we didn’t speak German.

Besides that, I always just feel bad when I don’t understand what’s being said to me or I fail to use German properly.

I also can’t eavesdrop very easily, and I’m still nervous to approach or chat with people I might otherwise have a nice conversation with.

Being so lost in translation can be quite isolating, and I often feel overwhelmed.

Ultimately, I know the only cure is time, and I’m trying to give that to myself and build this new life layer-by-layer

Have You Ever Moved Abroad?

I wrote this blog because I wanted to share my experience with all of you – thank you for reading!

I’m also hoping my blog will find its way to anyone who needs it, whether they are moving to a new country or just building a new life.

Also, if you’ve ever moved abroad, I will accept any wisdom or advice you have to offer – whether it’s tips on learning a new language or advice to help combat isolation.

You can always reach out to me via my contact form, on Instagram, or at loganrosereadsandwrites at gmail dot com.

Thank you again for reading my thoughts and musings! I hope you’re settling in nicely to the week.

I’m trying to get back to weekly posts, so I’ll pop in again soon!

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