International schools: going local or not

Of the many considerations and decisions we have to make as expats, ones regarding education for our kids can be amongst the most challenging. What’s available where we are has made the decision for us whenever we came to that juncture. While we were still living in San Diego, our oldest was going to attend a German immersion charter school in San Diego. San Diego doesn’t otherwise have a Deutsche Schule but amazingly has the Albert Einstein Academies, the aforementioned immersion charter school.

Since we moved back to Germany before our daughter matriculated, she’s had another year of Kindergarten for us to consider the path to set on. We currently live more than an hour away from the next large city, Stuttgart, which now has three international schools. My husband and I didn’t feel that for this stage of the game (grade school) there was any reason that anybody had to make the big sacrifice of commuting in order for her to attend an international school. There is also a relatively new (about eight years old) international school in a smaller city closer to us that we keep in mind as an option for the future, but we’ve been made wary by stories from other expat families with older kids. Basically, the quality of teaching as well as administrative organization is not the greatest, especially for the older and newer grades since in a lot of cases, the school is still figuring things out.

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Re-expatriating

We’ve returned to the Fatherland after the grueling process of packing up and moving a household of a family of five. We drove six hours from San Diego to Las Vegas listening to Die Zaueberfloete non-stop. We saturated in ueber-Americana for three days on The Strip. We flew eleven hours from Vegas to Frankfurt. We we drove three hours from Frankfurt to the tiny dwelling called Haeusles outside of Mitwitz which is nestled in Frankenwald (the Forest of Franconia) for a few weeks of decompression. Continue reading

Moving Back to Germany

I have an announcement to make. We are moving back to Germany next month. The timing of the move was a bit of a surprise, but it was always in the realm of possibility. We were away for two years, and as I’ve started the arduous process of organizing another overseas move now with three small kids, these are my passing Germany Way thoughts on the move: Continue reading

Losing Language

It was inevitable. Our German was bound to get worse upon departure. The first year, mine seemed to remain intact. I was still feeling pretty German, and I spoke German almost daily with our German preschool teachers, with other German-speaking parents, and with our German babysitter. Sometimes even with my German husband. We’re in the second year though, and after spending the Christmas holidays with my non-German speaking family, I finally felt that the Yanks had won. Throw on top of that, a struggle to integrate a third language (Korean), and the quality of Deutsch in this house has worsened. Continue reading

“Almanya” in San Diego

San Diego kicked off its first German Film Festival, German Currents in 2011. It seemed to be a long time coming considering that there are an estimated 100,000 Germans living in the San Diego metro area and Orange County.

The festival opened with the screening of Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland, a movie written by two Turkish German sisters, Yasemin and Nesrin Şamdereli, about a Turkish immigrant family’s literal and figurative trip back to Turkey. The family’s patriarch, Hüseyin, leaves his hometown in a village near Anatolia during the initial Gastarbeiter wave of Turkish immigration in the ‘60s in order to earn what was considered big money working in a German factory, which he sends back to support his family. Although originally unplanned, the whole family, made up of his wife, Fatma, and their first three children, eventually join their father and move to their new home in Berlin. Hüseyin and Fatma soon thereafter welcome their fourth child who is their only child born in Germany. Continue reading

Strengthening my German Core

One of my earliest challenges of post-partum life in America was searching for an equivalent of Rückbildungsgymnastik here in America or post-partum pelvic floor training. (There’s no easy translation.) The likes of Stroller Strides and specialized pre- and post-natal personal trainers who could help burn all of that baby fat were easy enough to find, and while I wouldn’t mind losing the 3-month bulge which might raise an eyebrow of “is she or isn’t she” to a stranger, the only similarity that these exercises share to Rückbildungsgymnastik is the post-partum descriptor.  Continue reading

The First Twelve Months

I’ve been enjoying getting to know my new baby during these first three months of his life. I organized a Mommy & Me Yoga/Baby Massage class at our local yoga studio here in San Diego to give myself that regular undistracted one-on-one time with baby Lenny. During the massage portion, I enjoy warm memories of taking a baby massage class with my first born while we were still living in southern Germany.

One of the other main benefits to taking a baby class is getting to know some of the other mothers. After each class we find ourselves at the local cafe exchanging stories about our same aged babies and getting to know each other better. This aspect of motherhood is pretty critical to my own well-being as a mother. On one of these recent occasions, I was enjoying a conversation with one of these fellow mothers and was suddenly struck with a pang of guilt as she told me about a mutual friend of ours who would be going back to work soon, three-months postpartum. It was a new feeling, a new world feeling. Continue reading

Living the German Way Part III

I was disappointed to read that my fellow blogger, Sarah Fürstenberger, was leaving our ranks as German Way Co-blogger for the time being. She and I had become friends while recording the same chapter in life as American expats living in Germany through this blog. Coincidentally, she and I also left Germany at the same time this past summer.

Although I was sad to no longer be able to keep up with her American/German family’s new Irish life through her blog posts, I could also understand her sentiment that her heart wasn’t in blogging about the German Way anymore. Often, when my week rolled around to blog, I felt at a loss as to what to blog about. It’s been about eight months since we left Germany, and our lives have significantly changed: our daughters, though still bilingual, speak mostly English now, we start to shiver at 60 degrees F (16 degrees C), our consumption of paper products jumped exponentially when we became members of Costco, and we barely buy or eat cold cuts (Aufschnitt) anymore.

I realized though that despite the dilution of our German-ness, there were beliefs and pursuits of the German Way of Life that I was still committed to. First and foremost on that list has been finding a pediatrician that suited a more typical German parenting philosophy: encouraging play-based learning for under six-year-olds, fostering independence, and choosing the natural alternatives when possible. Continue reading