Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Big Move

I promise I'll get back to the Azerbaijan and Ukraine adventures soon, but for now, some other big news from Germany.

Saturday morning started early and was busy with the latest big adventure - moving! After deciding to take my new job, I was extemely fortunate to also find a place to live in this city which has a seriously aggrivating housing sitution.

After fetching my stuff from my host family's house, we headed into the city to get a bunch of Mario's stuff as well.  Needless to say, the car was completely stuffed!

Hmmmm, we probably could have done a better job of loading stuff in
There was a special surprise waiting for me under the Christmas tree at my host family's house - a saxophone!!! They rented one for me for a little more than half a year because they know how much I love music and that I miss having instruments to play here in Munich. Best Christmas present ever? I think yes!

A not so nice surprise waiting for me at the house was a letter saying that my Christmas package from America is stuck in German customs.  We were going to suck it up and drive the 40 km to where we could pick it up until we realized that it's Saturday and they aren't open. I should be able to send an email stating that it is a gift and the contents of the box and then get the package sent to me.  Let's hope that all works out!

At the house we met my landlord who also lives in the apartment during his 2-3 trips home to Munich each year and came to the conclusion that he is exceedingly nice - he even helped us bring the stuff inside from the car! After we had schlepped everything into the house we took a trip to one of the two grocery stores right at the corner and bought a lot of household essentials.

Mario headed back to Hilpoltstein shortly after, but I decided to stay in Munich so that I could unpack, settle in, and visit some friends in Munich for a few days.  I got to work organizing everything right away because frankly, things not being organized sends me over the edge.  I've already warned Mario that he better be prepared to live with the clean police.

Other side of bedroom and wardrobe
Living room 
Dining room
Saturday night I slept in the new apartment for the first time and by the time I woke up Sunday morning it felt like home. Here's to a new chapter in a cozy new home!

Winter Holidays 2014 - Day 1

Where we were:

Munich Airport
Vienna Airport
Baku Airport and city center!

What we saw:

Baku by night

What we ate:

Your typical airplane pasta meal

Döner en route to the city center

Azeri beers and Ayran for the boys

Memorable moments:

Running through the Vienna airport like mad to catch our connecting flight to Baku

The unaccompanied 11 year old flying to visit his granny for Christmas in Baku. He was clearly bored out of his mind and going crazy with the excitement of flying back to Baku and therefore a bit of an annoyance to the other passengers nearby. I chatted with him for quite a while in Russian, German, and English, but by the end of the flight even I was ready for a break from our new little friend.

The first night views of Baku. They were absolutely breathtaking (literally, as we climbed a bajillion stairs to a high-up viewing point).
Baku Flame Towers
Nighttime city view
The luxury of sleeping in a nice hotel - a big change from our usual hostel or camping style, but every once in a while it's worth it!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Third week on the job - updates and reflections

By the time you read this I will be in Azerbaijan with three of my favorite travel mates. And as if that wasn't cool enough, we'll be stopping in Ukraine on the way home! Kiev here I come!!!! I'm not even sure which country I'm more excited for, but I'm sure neither will disappoint!

In the past three weeks I have found more patience than I ever thought possible. Unlike my coworker who seems to think it's okay to speak to the non-german speakers in English instead of German, I abide by the rule of everyone stays in his or her mother tongue. And of course it's frustrating to say the same thing 100 times and be met with blank stares, but if they understand me the 101st time or the 1001st time, it was still worth it. There are days when I want to shout "just speak German!!!" but so far I've kept my cool.

I've also discovered how awesome it is to have an employee that pays for my gym membership. Such a great stress reliever to be able to go run a few miles after work! I can't wait until the location I go to is finished with it's remodeling and I can check out some of their group exercise classes (and embarrass myself in front of a bunch of German strangers haha).

This past week a teacher from another group has been helping out in my group and it has been oh so refreshing to have someone so positive around for a change. I think I love my job 100x more this week just because she has been there!

The benefits of working here, both at my job specifically and in Germany in general, are amazing. In addition to the gym membership I am fed for free (and really well!) at work and can have coffee, tea, and fruit throughout the day. I am fully insured by one of the public health insurances available here and signing up was just about one of the easiest things I have done. To top it off, I opened the mail to find an 80€ check from my health insurance! Win!

Speaking of health insurance, I'm sure I will need to make use of it before too long considering how much ick and uck is coming out of all the kiddos noses and mouths and what not. Just one of the hazards of the job ;)

Anyhow, three weeks in and I'm still happy as a clam.

I'm off to explore more of Azerbaijan and can't wait to share all the adventures when we get back!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thanksgiving in Germany 2014

This year when Thanksgiving came around I knew that I wanted to cook a special thanksgiving feast for my host family and a couple of dear friends. Since fitting it into the middle of the week was all too hectic, we pushed it to Sunday evening. It also just so happened to be the last day before I started my mew job, so they called it a "Thanksgiving and Thanks Chelsea" dinner - how cute!

I wasn't successful in finding a whole turkey, but I did find turkey legs and that's the best part of the turkey anyway. Also on the menu was mashed potatoes,  green beans, corn, banana bread, and chocolate mousse. We ate way more than our fill, shared lots of laughs, and exchanged some small gifts. My heart couldn't have been happier. 

Being able to share special traditions with the special people in my life here in Germany certainly helps keep the homesickness away! 

The feast

Mimi and I with the special matching USA bears I brought..also, I may have cried a little ;)

Looking at the Mimi and Chelsea photo book together

Sunday, December 7, 2014

First Week on the Job

Five days with some of the most adorable little kiddos you ever did meet and my first week at my new job has come to an end.

The school itself is beautiful and my classroom is spacious and full of light.

Nearly all of the kids understand English and can speak a bit as well, with a few who are quite fluent. And even those who don't yet understand much are eager to learn and great me every day with smiles and hugs none the less.

Sometimes the days have stressful moments, like when I have to keep some of my most mischievous little fellows from carrying out their sneaky plans or have to separate the boys tackling each other during play time for what seems like the hundredth time. But then I feel someone tugging at my leg and look down to see the sweetest little pair of big brown eyes staring up at me. Or a naughty little one comes to me with a sincere apology and a big hug. Or best of all when they are just so excited to speak English to me and I see that I actually can do this job. Those are the moments that make me so glad that I decided to take this job and that reassure me that being a teacher is where my heart really is.