Living in Germany thus far has been very different, but nonetheless a learning experience so that equals fun! John and I are always enjoying and exploring our new city, something new at every corner it feels like. With that, let’s start with our homely yet inflated suburb of Rodenkirchen. The scenery is spectacularly diverse. Rodenkirchen and mostly all of Kӧln is decorated with multicolor buildings that double as shop fronts which their owners take great pride in. Owners are constantly cleaning the fronts of their shops (if it’s not raining), on their hands and knees making sure it sparkles like they just opened for business. I love that, it’s something you don’t see in the US. Along with that the rickety cobblestone streets, dated landmarks like the churches, lush green forestry with expansive parks fit for the outdoorsy and of course the vast Rhine River are just a few of the things we see and encounter every day which I think is just heavenly. Plus, everything we need is a five minute walk away: grocery, boutiques, décor, florists, bakery, bank, café, etc. Truly amazing; talk about instant gratification. One thing that makes Rodenkirchen unique is that it’s filled with older folks, we’d say about 50 years and older which is nice because the week nights are particularly quiet, but on the weekends there’s almost nothing to do so we’ll sometimes go into the city. Barbarossaplatz, Friesenplatz and Neumarkt are little suburbs/tram stops that are about a 15 minute drive or tram ride away, but they have a younger crowd and things are open later which helps the youthful night owl in us if we ever feel the need. However, we love that we live in Rodenkirchen because we like to keep to ourselves and we love getting to know the people that work in the places we go. So Rodenkirchen is fabulous!
Now in our apartment things are super different from home. We don’t have air conditioning so we keep our giant window in the kitchen cracked and our balcony door open. Since we’ve been here it’s been getting increasingly colder so we shut the balcony door now and turn on our heaters. They’re those heaters that are built in against walls that you have to turn a knob on the side to get it to work-old school but we love it! Our fridge and freezer are built into one and is the size of a dorm fridge so we can’t keep too much stored, so that means a lot of trips for fresh foods. Then, we are also without a dishwasher. Oh yeah, we hand wash all of our dishes every day. In fact, my morning routine consists of waking up, washing my face, brushing my teeth, doing the dishes, making coffee and playing solitaire with a real deck of cards. Granny status I know. However, it reminds me of my great grandma who used to play solitaire in the morning so I like that. Anyways, another thing we don’t have in our flat is a clothes washer and dryer so we must use the apartment’s community washers and dryers. We typically do all of our laundry on Sunday or Monday during the day when it’s not too busy. I didn’t realize how lucky we were back home with all of our appliances and their size at our disposal whenever we needed. It’s the little things that make this experience so valuable. I’ve really learned how to be domestic that’s for sure.
For shits and gigs, here are the some other differences that I’ve found throughout our time here:
The stop lights. They change from red to yellow to green when you are to go versus yellow to red to stop; it’s like you’re getting ready to drag race the cars next to you. Also, like in Paris everyone here either drives a Mercedes, Audi, BMW or Volkswagen. If you’re a big baller Lamborghini, Maserati or Ferrari. They’re not as rare here as they are in Dallas that’s for sure. My eyes get wider than the Rhein whenever I see a murdered out Lambo and hear its roar…YAAAS.
Bikes on bikes on bikes! There are so many cyclists here it’s incredible. When we drive or when I jog the Rhein, we must be mindful and considerate of our fellow bikers that seem to rule the streets which is sometimes a pain in the ass but it’s the life here.
Deodorants are typically aerosols. Luckily John found his original Old Spice roll-on. As for me, I have to spray my pits which is weird, especially since I almost spray-burn myself every time. But hey, it gets the job done and I don’t stink so it’s worth it.
The language of course has been the biggest challenge because we both came here not knowing one word of German, but we’ve been learning because we have no choice and its fun. We can read food menus pretty good now, but we still can’t hold a conversation with people. However, we are understanding a lot more and we pick up new words and phrases each day just from asking around or hearing it being said. FYI-I love languages. I minored in Spanish and thought about majoring in Linguistics, but I didn’t so any chance that I have at learning and speaking a new language is awesome for me. That’s my kind of fun! Yes I know I’m a dork. Plus, John and I get a good laugh at some of the words like ausfahrt which means exit…I’ll leave you guys to your imaginations for that. Haha.
Beer or kӧlsch is dirt cheap. For a six pack the most you will pay is 5 euro…that’s a college kid’s dream come true. Put it this way, it pays to drink beer because it’s cheaper than the water. In fact, one of our favorite local restaurants, Quetsch, which overlooks the river and is a five minute walk from our flat, tallies the beers that you drink on a cardboard coaster. And you don’t have to ask for another beer because they just keep bringing them until you’re ready to pay or say nein. In most of the restaurants and cafes they serve the beer in .2 or .3 liter glasses-the perfect amount that stays cold but goes down so quick. From our experience, all we have to do to get beer is ask for ein kolsch (one beer) and they bring their beer on tap. Awesome. Also each restaurant has a specific beer brand that they serve, for example in Kӧln they have a lot of breweries: Gaffel, Reissdorf, Gilden, Sion, etc. and each restaurant has one of those brands that they advertise on their signs outside the restaurant, so when you go in and ask for kӧlsch (unless you’re wanting to be particular) they’ll bring you a .2 liter glass of cold beer. Paradise.
Dogs are ridiculously obedient and almost never have a leash. It’s the craziest sight that I’ve ever seen. They stay right next to the owner like they have meaty bacon treats in their pockets. And almost every restaurant is dog-friendly. Yes, dogs are allowed to dine with their owners; they’re better well-behaved than some kids I’ve seen and that’s a fact.
With all the differences we’ve encountered we’ve truly learned how to embrace and adopt the German culture as well as find more love in ourselves-together and individually.
In this new life, John and I realized very quickly that we have to talk to each other about every little thing whether it bothers us or not. Because we only have each other. We communicate our feelings more than we ever have before. Sometimes we get upset and frustrated with things, but then we recognize that regardless of where we are and how different things can be we have to find the love and appreciate one another along with everything this world has given us. Our relationship grows stronger every day because of this experience. We are incredibly fortunate for everything this life has given us. Our families get the biggest applause because without them and their endless provision none of this would mean what it means. We both do everything that we do for a bigger purpose than ourselves. Call me cheesy, lame or whatever, but I believe that John and I are destined. Everyday there are little things here and there that validate this. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. Read my journals from when I was eight years old, he’s everything I wrote about and more. Each and every moment of every day I see why we’re together and why we will be for a very long time. We’re not in it because we think we look good together and can post about it using hashtags, we’re in it because we have genuinely found love in each other. My parents always told me that true and real love is supposed to uplift you, and your loved one is supposed to grow with you and be on the same path as you to better yourself in life as a couple and an individual. I’m lucky to say that I’ve found that person in John. We’ve both been through our fair share of life dilemmas but every right or wrong turn has led us together and we connect on that commonality. Every day I wake up more gracious than the next because things like this, this opportunity and this love, don’t just happen. It happens when two strong, independent people stop looking and stumble upon each other. They notice that two heads are better than one; two hearts and lives collide to create one beautiful, bountiful life filled with love and strength. And every day I am thankful; we are thankful.