Monthly Archives: January 2015

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Indepedence

Watching your child can be the hardest thing of all

January 22, 2015
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When we decided to move to Germany we were planning to make this a forever move – unless of course things didn’t work out in which case we would “cross that bridge when we come to it” as my mother always said.  That is, we were jumping in with all our 6 feet. That’s why we considered a fully German kindergarten for Bella in order that she fully integrates and learns German as fast as she can. That way when it comes to schooling we had both the options of International School where she would be taught in English or the German schools which may stand her in better stead for a German university. After all, she will have lived most of her life here and want to stay here forever.

We went to see an International Pre-school locally too which was great. The children were encouraged to speak English and in many ways it seemed just like a very much smaller version of the nursery Bella attended at home. In fact, she was so comfortable she went off to play with the children immediately and didn’t want to leave.  It was a hard decision for us, as sending her here would have been the easiest thing all round. In the long run though, with 2 non-German speaking parents, I’m not sure it would have helped her integration. Her English was already more advanced than the other children who were mostly English as a 2nd language and just learning colours, etc. so we didn’t feel that it would have helped her English either.

And so a couple of weeks ago Bella started her German kindergarten. Everyone says how easy children adjust – especially at that age – but I don’t think they realise quite how stressful it is for them too. Yes, I’m absolutely sure we chose the right kindergarten and that Bella will adjust to her new German life – but this will take time. Right now Bella is lost without being able to talk to the other children yet she is a child who seeks company and yearns to communicate with others. She’s lonely, desperate to play with the others and get involved. This means she does try to play with the other children and on the outside she looks like she’s adjusting well, but in her head there is a lot going on. For us, we have moved country – for Bella her whole world has been replaced by a new one, just as she was making sense of the old one. As a parent this makes me sad – how do you explain to a 3 year old that this will be a good thing for her future when all she cares about is NOW. At a time when she’s also exerting her independence it’s hard for a mum to watch and allow space for the child to work things out too. Of course all I can do is be here for her and help her in her difficult journey –her new life. Thinking about that makes me realise that actually that’s what being a Mum is all about. That’s what my mum (still) does for me – sometimes when you feel helpless its just about being there.

Forest

10 good things

January 9, 2015
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I realise I haven’t written about the great things here.

1) We are 30 minutes away from the mountains and lakes – that means beautiful walks in Spring, Summer and Autumn and ski-ing in the winter – we are planning our first ski-ing next month and I am excited. I’m also excited to introduce Bella to ski-ing.

2) We live opposite a forest – it really is so beautiful here – 12Km of forest on our doorstep. There’s a tarmac road through for bikes and walkers or you can just tramp among the trees. For a photographer, it’s an amazing subject,  for a toddler, it’s lots of fun, for an amateur twitcher it’s a haven.

3) We live 5 minutes away from the S-bahn which takes 25 minute stop the heart of Munich – a great city with shopping, biergartens, strange people in strange Bavarian dress, the English Garden – a huge park in the centre of Munich.

4) The food is actually quite nice – good hearty food with nothing scary or too weird. Munich obviously has some great restaurants serving all kinds of cuisine too.

5) The beer – although I no longer drink much, the beer is actually quite refreshing and its not frowned upon for women to drink beer too. There are a huge variety of beers and it would be rude not to try one on the odd special occasion.

6) The zoo – Munich zoo much be one of my favourite zoos – it’s set out in a way that little people can see everything, using low barriers and the use of moats and clever landscaping rather than large fences to keep the animals in. I’ve been told when it snows you can go and stroke the penguins so I am waiting for our next barrel-load of snow to appear. This is also good for a keen photographer. The other great thing about th zoo is the baby polar bears!

7) The cycle paths. Not that I was a keen cyclist but the paths here are separate to the road and often through picturesque trees or by the River. They are wide enough to use child trailers (and many do) and you see all ages of people on bikes. It’s a popular way to get around and it seems to keep the older generation fit and healthy.

8) The bread – why on earth in England we eat such dull square bread when here it is the norm to buy fresh loaves and eat real crusty bread – although more hassle when making sandwiches it’s yummy – and there are so many varieties to choose from.

9) The basements – houses come with huge basements with a hobby room and lots of room for keeping laundry out of sight.

10) The opportunity for Bella – it seems like such a great place to raise children, with lots of outdoor play and safe environments. In my opinion with all the health and safety now in the UK, children aren’t left with much room to be children, to make their own mistakes (not always under supervision) help each other and find their own answers to challenges. Here there is less constant supervision and children can interact without feeling like their parents are constantly watching. Obviously we are still new here and I may be wrong but in some ways it harks back to how life was when I was growing up and I believe sometimes the fastest way to learn is by experiencing, not being stopped from doing things and being told to be careful. I wonder if my child’s overcautious nature comes from me worrying sh might hurt herself and constantly warning her. Now she has more freedom to explore. And of course, for Bella the opportunity to grow up with 2 languages, mixing with people from all over the world (she already has played with children from Australia, Canada, Alaska, England, Germany, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Holland, Kazakhstan to name a few), and learning to embrace change with confidence,

What’s teddy bear in German? Teddy bear!

January 9, 2015
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Okay so we’re still in Europe and moving to Germany can’t be that different to England, right? And anyway – EVERYONE speaks English in Munich… don’t they?

My daughter loves asking people what teddy bear is in German. She finds it hilarious, but actually I think it gives her some comfort that not her whole world is being turned upside down – some things are just the same as home(England). However, she’s also embraced the differences like I never expected. She absolutely loves explaining to English people what her new German words are – blue: blau, pink: rosa, counting to 10 – and especially correcting them if they get it wrong (I think maybe there’s some teacher in her!) , while she still remains fussy about some foods she’s had in England such as carrots and tomatoes, she shows much enthusiasm for trying new foods here, sampling sauerkraut, weisswurst, all kids of smoked meats and fish and even has eaten duck. My theory on her general love for food is that she sees her father loving trying new foods and doesn’t want to miss out. Watching her enjoy her new life here so much has really made the move much easier for us all.

However, there are many differences here to England that we had not anticipated, and being a technologist I think the biggest surprise for me was the banking here. Firstly I never realised that free banking was almost unique to the UK. In most places, including Germany, you have to pay for your banking so the days of having multiple accounts and being able to manage money across them are numbered for us. Secondly, your debit cards have no long number across the front and therefore cannot be used for online banking, and if you want a credit card obviously you have to pay extra to have one. So my current understanding (although it’s early days for me here) is that a lot of the time if you do online shopping you pay when it arrives or do a bank transfer. Of course, some online stores do accept paypal. I’ve not yet seen any contactless payment systems in shops here, nor heard of mobile SMS banking such as recently launched in the UK (like Barclays Ping-it). Reading a post regarding tech companies in Germany it seems that those doing innovative e-commerce maybe German but operating in other territories such as Asia or Holland. I’m unsure yet as to whether this unsophisticated approach to banking is because of tighter fraud and security or strict legislation around the finance industry. I do know that I really miss my Ocado deliveries I was used to in the UK. As I begin my language lessons next month and therefore can start to read more German, I hope to discover more about the technology world here and how and why it differs from London when it’s less than 1000KM away. Legislation, innovation or a resistance to change? And is it Bavaria that’s behind or the whole of Germany? Certainly there have been a number of grants aimed at tech companies in Berlin.

 

Snow in the garden trees

A bright new dawn – 2015 begins

January 9, 2015
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Well it’s the new year and time for a new start. The last month has seen our little girl turn 3, our parents’  first visits to Bavaria, our first Christmas in Munich, and lots of snow (probably the first snow Bella will ever remember seeing – certainly playing in.)  Now the snow’s melting and Bella started (German) Kindergarten this week which gives me time to write this.

A new year begs a time for reflection on our life here. So how is it different here to home. I think the biggest struggle most definitely has to be the language barrier – it means getting help when you’re confused or talking to somebody when you’re feeling lonely isn’t easy. Certainly in the first month or two when we had sparse internet access, nor a phone line or mobile reception (first world problems, eh?!) the isolation was at times unbearable. I don’t remember ever a time in my 40 years when I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call my mum for company. There were moments when I wanted to return to the comfort of ‘yellow door’ (the name my little one gives to our old house in England) where life was set and predictable. However, when that barrier was removed (when others spoke English or even understood sign language) I found the people here to be very friendly and helpful. I loved our life back home, but here we seem to have the best of both worlds – the city and the countryside only 25minutes apart. I do plan on returning to work and am hoping that the much shorter commute will allow me more time to be a mother, a wife, a colleague and a friend, giving me everything I want in my life right now.

Next month I begin my German class which I am very much looking forward to. It feels that it will open doors for me in our life here.

 

 

 

 

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