Sunday, September 9, 2007

Surviving the First Week

Some things just really seem bizarre when you're not used to seeing them. There are several of these vending machines scattered randomly throughout the towns. You're driving or walking down the road and you see a vending machine that sells cigarettes, gum, candy, or toys. Mostly, you see cigarette machines, but it seems so odd to me that these things are sitting in the middle of an isolated residential area rather than being associated with a shop or business.

We've now officially been here for one week. In some ways, the week has flown by. We've been busy almost every day searching for homes, cars, etc. In other ways, it seems so much longer than a week already because we've gotten little accomplished. Tomorrow Gerard will technically start his first day at ESO, but we are still trying to do a few things early in the morning. For starters, we are going to drive back to that car dealer and try to get the Toyota Picnic we've been eyeing, provided everything pans out with the test drive, etc. We're still researching the rules on car insurance, license plates, and registration, though, as we're unsure if we'll legally be able to drive the car off the lot should be purchase it. We're also trying to contact the real estate agents regarding the house in Neufahrn to let them know we are interested and will be dropping off an application. The idea of having a place to live in short order is appealing, even if this is not our ideal living situation. But... I also don't want to get my hopes up that things will work out. As I've mentioned, the whole foreigners thing seems to be a put off to some rental agencies.

We drove into Neufahrn again today. There was supposed to be a Potato Festival (which we never found). Instead, we drove back to the site of our prospective house and listened for air traffic and train noise. Neufahrn is close to the airport (about 14 kilometers/almost 9 miles) and the house is relatively close to the tracks for the S-bahn. We heard a few planes and trains go by, but Gerard seems to think it wasn't that unbearable so he's okay with the noise. We were also outside listening, so it's possible that the house would muffle much of the sound.
While in Neufahrn, we decided to walk around the area near the house and came across a small shopping plaza. Though it's Sunday and most businesses are closed, we were able to find a few cafes and bakeries that were open. We stopped in a bakery for a croissant and coffee and began chatting with the server. He was a young lad around 18 years old. We questioned him about moving to Neufahrn area. Just like the waiter we had spoken with a few nights before, he promptly said that we should not move to Neufahrn. When I asked why, he said that there were too many criminals. Again, I prodded (being me, after all) and asked what he meant by that. Was there a lot of crime on the streets? House break-ins? Should I worry about safety? Or was he trying to use a different term? Upon further investigation, we discovered he was trying to state that he felt many teenagers were hoodlums, a bit aggressive at times and rude. Of course I questioned further and of course, it came out that the people to which he was referring were of course "Turkish." He basically said that for young children it was no problem and there were no safety issues, etc., but for some German teenage boys who were not big and tough themselves, they would have trouble with some of the Turkish teenage boys. Hmmm... again, I'm getting the sense that there is a huge bias against Turks here. Neufahrn appears to be 20% Turkish and just as in Los Angeles or any other place in the world, the predominant immigrant population may be looked on with a bit of disdain by some. I'm not sure that this is a reason to "not move" into the Neufahrn area. Lord knows there are plenty of other reasons far more obnoxious about living out in the sticks OTHER than living amongst an immigrant population, especially considering that *I* am essentially an immigrant myself.
We spent the late afternoon visiting with one of Gerard's colleagues who lives closer into Munich (Schwabing, to be exact). He has two boys (ages 3 and 5), and Gerrit enjoyed playing with them and their toys. I think he's getting a bit bored of the few toys I brought for him. (Although David would be shocked to hear this considering all the luggage we brought) I didn't actually bring many toys for Gerrit to play with immediately, so I know he'll be happy when our air shipment arrives. There is a big blue bin of toys waiting for him. Gerrit has been adjusting pretty well, but of course he's been sleeping with us every night, and he is upset if he awakes and we are not there. I think once we are more settled and he has his own bed and familiar things around him, he will be much more comfortable. He has started to pick up the phone and say "Hello" rather than just sitting and listening. He still doesn't carry on a major conversation with people, but it's a start. He is also saying "please" and "thank you" when he asks for things. He usually still needs prompting for "please" but "thank you's" seem to come quite naturally for him. It's super cute to hear his little voice as he expands his vocabulary.
I'm a bit uneasy about tomorrow as Gerard will likely be gone for a good portion of the day. I'm hoping to print a detailed city map of Garching so that I can go exploring with Gerrit and the dogs a bit. There is supposed to be a forest of sorts nearby where the dogs can be off-leash. I hope to also find a park with some activities for Gerrit. If I'm feeling super brave, I may try venturing into Munich with Gerrit. I want to find some things for him to do tomorrow since he's been such a trooper putting up with all of the errands we need to run each day. We drag him everywhere and even though I know he is bored at times, he really doesn't complain... much.


At September 9, 2007 at 6:23 PM , Blogger Wendi said...

i want to see a pic of this car you are looking to get - it sounds interesting. hope tomorrow goes well!

At September 10, 2007 at 5:34 AM , Blogger Greg said...

Congrats on surviving your first week! A few comments:

(1) Yeah, there has been a bit of backlash against the Turks in Germany for a while now.

(2) The hadr core Muncheners willraise an eyebrow if you lump them in with the Schwabisch...

At September 10, 2007 at 8:13 AM , Blogger Sonja said...

Hi Stephanie,

What a wonderful way to update us on your travels! The website is great!

I emailed my good friends in Schwabing. I asked her about Neufarn and it's not a dangerous area. I forwarded her email to you. Please call them. Their English is perfect and they can help you out if you have questions.



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