Dies and Das

Being a foreigner once again here in Ireland, after finally not feeling very foreign in Germany, is a new adventure. I finally learned the little cultural tricks in Germany, like not putting my hand out for change at the bakery, but waiting for them to place it on the little tray on the counter, and even the big ones, like closing doors out of habit in every room in the house. And now it all begins again…

Warning: This blog may be a bit rambly; I’ve spent all day delving through moving boxes, directing people and lugging furniture.

I’ve managed the driving bit, at least as far as the smaller roads around our little country town are concerned, but I think I will never be able to employ my excellent Autobahn passing skills in this country. First of all, people just don’t drive that fast. Second, I would be passing the right! I now no longer have to be bothered with the fact that my car has no power, because there’s no way of getting anywhere fast anyway. As our German visitor Sven remarked yesterday after spending 4 hours in the car trying to get somewhere around 100 miles, “Just when you think you are on a straight and speed up, you hit some secret, invisible giant pothole and have to put on the brakes!”.

I’ve successfully found the Lidl and the Aldi, and was happy to find some products that they have in Germany that I hadn’t expected. I thought Noah would have to survive without his beloved Fruchtzwerge, but alas, they have the Lidl version of them, albeit under some funny name. They even have Milchbrötchen (called milk rolls). But there are no Schupfnudeln to be found, and most certainly no Maultaschen. I guess they will have to change their kid food staples and move on. Nutella is luckily still available everywhere. And Lidl is most definitely not as cheap here as it is in Germany. I’ve never spent more than €100 at Lidl, but I broke that number the first Saturday I was here, and the cart wasn’t even full!

The kids start Kindergarten tomorrow, or Creche as it is called here. Livi will be in the Montessori group and Noah with the other toddlers. They were quite thrilled with the chickens in the backyard that they can feed, and glad to see that their gumboots will get some good use, but there are no houseshoes required and no hooks with the picture on it. Livi will already be learning numbers and letters at 3-years-old, which is really more like it is in the US. I don’t know if they still do Stuhlkreis, but if not, I’m Noah will continue to re-enact it for us at home. Circle time exists all over the world, doesn’t it?

What a change from Germany, in so many ways. The biggest change for me is that people are much more helpful to strangers or those they just met. People talk to you in the supermarket and on the bus and on the street. I missed that after so many years in Germany. I was still the one who talked to strangers, but came across as just another chatty American, I suppose. Let’s see how my German husband likes all this “closeness”. No more Du and Sie, no more last names, no more frantic guessing whether the person you were talking to was older or younger so you could offer them the Du. Fresh challenges await…