August 26, 2015

German Swag 101: Week 1

O.M.G. (Oh. My. Germany.)

It's been a crazy week of moving in, unpacking, and rearranging. I only had one small task besides the normal moving things-to-do: GET A JOB.

Welcome to Vilsbiburg!
But before getting down to business, let's document all the funny things I noticed when I first arrived. Even after 4.5 years in Europe, this American still feels the differences, and even more so now after adding France to my long list of "where I'm from."

I parked the rental car with all of our stuff and got out to survey the surroundings. Marc wouldn't be home for another twenty minutes, and he didn't know I'd decided to surprise him with an earlier-than-expected arrival.

The neighbor (named Hans, what else?) had trimmed the shrubs that day. My first impression of Vilsbiburg was: This place smells like Christmas.

That simple smell of evergreen is probably the most welcomed and comforted I've ever felt when arriving in a new place.

The grocery store is always a new experience, but imagine my relief when I saw that most of the packaging labels have French translations.

The night weather is a bit out of control. It will be the nicest day, mid-70s, sunny with a breeze, then comes darkness - and with darkness, intense winds, rain, thunderstorms, you name it. We've already been told that it mostly will snow at night. Stay inside after dark!

The autobahn is somewhere far along the insanity chart. Even the normal streets are a bit crazy, especially since sidewalks aren't necessarily on both - or either - side of the street sometimes! In France, I never felt like I was in danger as a pedestrian. If I ever get hit by a car, it will be in Germany.

But at least there is ice cream and gelato everywhere.

The church bells ring at ungodly hours. I don't even know how many churches are chiming in, but I do know that I was wide awake at 4AM to the sound of bells!!! They ring all day long at whatever intervals they please, and now it's just a matter of getting the ringing to fade into the background noise.

What's with all the bees? Did they eat all the mosquitoes? They swirl around us as we eat outside, then they fly in and out of our third story windows all day. They don't seem to want to sting us, but, still, bees aren't exactly pets.

What about the whole learning German thing?

I've been working on numbers 1-10. Basic greetings (I can't spell any of them yet, but something that sounds like "ciervos" and "vesgets"), random adjectives (again, if you know the spelling, please correct: "neu" for new, "rote" for red), and some vocabulary ("Wasser" for water, and that's all that has really mattered to me this week, anyway).

The excellent news is that I've been invited to be a part of German lessons that run three days a week! My first lesson is tomorrow, and I should hopefully know a lot more by the end of an hour and a half!

At the festival in nearby Landshut.
How did I get invited to German lessons?

I made the volleyball team!!!

It was all very spontaneous and surprising, as Vilsbiburg's second division team (they also have a first division, very professional, very exhausting two-practices-per-day schedule team) actually needed a setter!

It reminded me a lot of my freshman year at Master's, when my coach met with me about a month into the season and said, "You're a lot better than I thought you were going to be."

(Some people could be upset at this statement, but I've always believed it to be a whole lot more fun to receive than, "You're not as good as we thought you were.")

My new team is like a college team loaded with freshmen - the majority are literally 18 years old. I'm five years older than the next oldest player. I love it. There is also a Swiss player qui parle fran├žais! Everything keeps falling into place.

Vilsbiburg's second team is designed to develop the youth players for future professional careers, but they do need random older players to anchor the group, and that's where I fit in just right.

A really enormous thank you goes out to any and all of you who took the time to pray for me, encourage me, or even help me find my footing here. God has taken care of us and brought us to yet another beautiful place, and we are excited to share it with you.

But we'll only share the food if you come to visit!
How do I feel after week one?

Sehr gut. Or at least very happy, hopeful, and thankful.