Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Country

     Happy New Year, Everyone!  Our family isn't really big on celebrating the New Year.  We generally stay home, put our kids to bed on time (they are 4 and 8), and watch a movie or something until midnight.  After saying "Happy New Year" to each other, we go to bed. Not very exciting, to say the least. 
     This year was no different.  We were fully prepared to let 2010 pass on as we let every other year.  As midnight approached, we began to hear the pop and crackle of fireworks.  When midnight was reached, it was as if the entire country let loose.  We opened our kitchen blinds to see what was going on.  Our entire neighborhood was in the street, drinking champagne, setting off fireworks, and celebrating.  The excitement was palpable.
    We decided to wake the children.  Olivia's room, on the front of the house, was like a front row seat to an amazing show.  Living on the edge of town, we could see the the skyline, lit up again and again, as what seemed like the entire town and neighboring towns setting off fireworks.  It was dazzling.  I have never seen such a display of celebration, even in the US on the 4th of July.  And this wasn't a community sponsored show, it was just regular people showing their joy at the coming of a new year.  People celebrating the the happiness of the past year, and demonstrating their hope of good things in this new one.
    When the fireworks began to slow, we put the kids back to bed.  I am glad that we let them experience something that they would not see in the United States.  I know that I had never seen anything like it.  It gives me an appreciation for the exuberance of the people that are currently sharing their country and culture with us. 
    Welcome, 2011.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Change of Lifestyle

  As a nurse, I tend to notice a lot about the people around me.  I love to observe.  A marked observation that I have made as a health care professional is that in the month that I have been in Germany, I have not seen a single morbidly obese person.  Not one!  A little overweight here and there, and the occasional beer belly, but not the obvious obesity that you see on a daily basis in the US.  I think that says a lot about American culture, and it is not a compliment.
  I have discovered that here in Germany, health and wellness are highly valued.  Children are taught to live a healthy lifestyle in school.  They are encouraged in an active lifestyle.  People here take the time to relax and rejuvenate.  In contrast, they don't spend all their spare time relaxing.  People get out!  There is a lot of walking done here.  I, like many others, walk to local bakery and grocery store when I need something.  If you want to go farther, you walk to the train station.  Want to get to the store or train station faster?  You ride your bike.  I have seen many people that are probably in their 80s riding their bikes to get around.  People that age wouldn't go near a bike in the US. 
  Germans spend a lot of time outdoors.  If they cant be outdoors, then the windows are open.  It can be 34 degrees outside and my neighbor will have her bedroom door open and her bedding airing on the balcony.  Gardening is a popular pastime.  They take it very seriously. 
  From a healthcare perspective, I believe that overall the German populace is much healthier than the American people.  People here are also much more holistic in their approach to health care.  Accupuncture and chiropractic medicine are much more readily accepted here than in the US.  Herbal remedies are also more frequently used.
   I feel healthier just being here. :)

Where's the toaster?

  Ever wonder what it would be like to live without modern conveniences?  Try moving to a country where none of your appliances work.  A 110v appliance just doesn't work in a 220v outlet.
   My family recently moved to Germany.  We realized that things would be different, but it was a little more drastic than we thought.  When you rent a home in Germany, the previous tenants take everything - including the kitchen sink!  We had no counters, cabinets, or stove in the kitchen.  Not all the rooms had light fixtures.  Those go with whomever put them in.
  The past couple weeks have been interesting.  We went to IKEA and bought a kitchen.  Now you may picture cabinetry and such being put in place easily.  Think again!  Everything comes disassembled in box for  home assembly. The stove top didn't even come with a cord.  Needless to say, it has taken us a while to get out kitchen together and it is still not quite done.
  We are slowly acquiring other things - such as a toaster, coffee pot, washer, dryer.  Thankfully the previous tenants sold us there refridgerator and microwave.  It is an adventure.  We are currently putting together a bedroom set, which is a big project as well. 
  This doesn't leave us a lot of time for sightseeing, or blogging, but I will give this a whirl.