My husband’s company sent us to Germany in January of 2010. With a newborn in tow and an almost 2-year-old, we struggled through the first couple months of getting settled into Northwest Germany in a small town called Alfter right outside of Bonn. Six months later my husband’s project was cancelled and he eventually separated from the company that same year. We were given the choice to go back “home” but we gave Germany a shot and moved down to Munich the following year. After two wonderful years in Munich with our two boys, the pending birth of our daughter made us re-evaluate our situation and we made the very difficult decision to return to the U.S.
Moving to another country to live for an unknown amount of time can be intimidating. I knew nothing about Germany beyond World War II history and the Berlin Wall and the only German I spoke was “Ja” and “Nein” (yes and no). But through my time there, I created some amazing friendships, had some wonderful adventures with my children (often without my husband but sometimes with), and learned a lot about myself. I had to navigate ordinary family life, doctor’s visits, school selections, and creating a social circle in a foreign tongue. Thankfully, a lot of Germans speak English, but just as Americans want immigants or expats to their country to speak English on American soil, I felt it was only fair that I should do my best to speak German out in public.
I hope I can share some of my experiences with anyone else who is currently an expat or considering trying life out living abroad. It can be a challenge, but I still consider my 3 years in Germany some of the best of my life!