Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Planning a comeback

Germany has been winning lately. I have been playing hard, but those burly German opponents seem to be gaining on me and making me feel a little grumpy. Maybe it's because Christmas is almost here, or because the things that were keeping me busy and focused (working at the school, my Master's class, my Spanish group, German class) are all wrapping up for the holidays. Or maybe it's the 16 hours of darkness. For whatever reason I am caught in what I have diagnosed as one of those dips in the squiggly graph about culture shock.

It's actually a well-documented phenomenon. I found this on the internet so it must be true. Take a look:
This is not normal for me. I am usually an unreasonably positive person. So if I am feeling like I'm not sure what my role is here or that I miss helping people or that I should have a full-time job (I know, that's crazy),  it must be culture shock.

One helpful thing to think about is how far we have come in the last four months. Literally of course, we have come really far, and survived. I was flipping through my notebook at German class last night and saw the page where I wrote "hello, my name is" and conjugated all the forms of "to be". Now I can form actual (simple) sentences and even know a little of the past tense.

Just four months ago, Brian and I were lying on the aerobed with piles of our clothes in little piles on the floor, watching some historical DVD that he had grabbed from school. We didn't have furniture, or a phone, or internet, or anywhere to sit in our apartment. We were fighting with the moving company. We got lost a lot walking around town.

Now I work a little, I have a few friends, we have furniture, we have discovered more types of sausages than I ever thought existed, and best of all we are, and will be, travelling a lot. I even know how to pronounce vowels with the two little dots over them.

And I started this blog, which has motivated me to keep writing because I have a following of about 70 of my closest friends and relatives. I can see how many of you read each day too, so I am keeping tabs on you. If it were just a journal for my own purposes I probably would have given up by now.

I don't know what will happen in the next four months. I know we will do some travelling. I know that we will have a winter that's not painfully cold. Hopefully my German will keep improving.
Maybe I will find another niche or side job, or I will just do a better job of settling into the ones I have already. Maybe I will get better at enjoying setting my own schedule and having chunks of time to myself, without worrying about being productive. I am reminding myself that things are pretty good here and I need to be patient.
So I will keep on going knowing that the squiggly line will point upwards pretty soon. I am still in the game and planning a comeback.

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About Me

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Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.