Thursday, October 4, 2007

The First Month

As of yesterday, we have officially been in Germany for one month. Because of all the things we have had to do so far, it doesn't seem like it's been that long. At this point, I think it's only fitting to reflect on all we have accomplished since arriving here.

First and foremost, Gerard started his job at ESO. He will ultimately be responsible for making sure that an instrument called PRIMA works properly. What does PRIMA stand for, you ask? Phase-Referenced Interferometry for Microarcsecond Astrometry.... yeah, let's just use the acronym, shall we? ESO has a telescope in Chile that has been specifically designed to use the technique of interferometry to measure the angular separations between stars quite accurately. This instrument will help in planet detection and is only one of its kind. NASA tried to build a similar instrument but ran into problems with lawsuits that prevented its completion. At this point, Gerard has been learning about the system and what needs to be done to complete it. He is looking for ways to make unique contributions toward its operational success. It is taking a long time for Gerard to get settled there (he still does not have a functional desktop), but as things progress, he sees this job as an exciting and interesting challenge.

There are several other accomplishments worth acknowledging. In just over four weeks time we have managed to rent a house, buy a car, register it, and get license plates, set up a gynecologist for me and register at the hospital for the birth, hire a midwife for before and after the birth (not during), set up bank accounts and credit cards, get temporary cell phones, set up our home phone and internet service, establish some potential friendships, check out a few preschools and playgroups, put lights up around our house, assemble and mount a ton of IKEA furniture, start German classes, and fill out a ton of paperwork in the process. Though our list is still quite long (and we know I'm a perpetual "list maker"), at least things are slowly but surely getting checked off.

We saw a vet for the dogs today and got them EU passports, so we can now travel over most of Europe with our dogs. We have an appointment with a Tagesmutter (Day Mother) for Gerrit for tomorrow, and a pediatrician appointment for him next week. I am also scheduled to meet with the principal of the Bavarian International School next week. Not sure what, if anything, I'll be doing in that department soon, but I figure it's best to at least establish initial contacts at this point.

We still have yet to get any sort of television set up and Gerard has been researching several options for that. I've been fighting spending a ton of money on a T.V., but Gerard has my blessing to buy a flat-screen as long as it is U.S. compatible and can come back with us. This, of course, means he will likely put even more effort into researching the type of T.V. he wants now that he knows he can get a flat-screen.

I took Gerrit to an English Playgroup in Ismaning this morning. This is a group that Liesel told me about. It was quite fun. Gerrit still doesn't really play with a ton of other kids and spends a lot of time playing by himself, but he really enjoyed the singing and stories... and of course, the toys that are different than his own. Afterwards, I managed to figure out how to take the train back to Neufahrn. Since I was closer to the airport, it took much less time to just hop on a train headed to the airport and then transfer to another line which took me to Neufahrn. My only other option would have been to go to Munich and then back out again, but that would have taken me at least three times as long. This was a major feat for me. I believe that I have been blessed with my mother's (lack of) sense of direction, only perhaps just slightly better. (Hope you're not upset if you're reading this, mom.) So doing anything with public transport in a foreign country where I don't speak the language is a freaky experience for me. Just figuring out which ticket I needed took a bit of work. At least I can claim victory on this little task. On our way home, Gerrit and I even managed to stop by the library when it was actually open (it has super weird hours). We got a library card and looked around a bit, and left just in time to get showered with rain during the rest of our walk home.

Not sure if I mentioned this, but you can take your dogs and bikes, etc.on the train with you. In some cases your dog is free, but at most you pay a child's fare. There are also fares for your bikes. With all the walking, public transport, and basic way of life, I think this town was made for my dad. He'll probably really enjoy it here if he is ever able to visit.

Our Wyoming Drivers Licenses also showed up today, so now I can try learning the rules of the road here and practice driving before we switch them to German licenses. We can drive with our U.S. licenses initially but will have to convert them within either six months or a year (pregnancy brain prevents me from remembering which at this point).

I also re-read some of my posts to see if my attitude has changed at all about being here. Sad to say, but not really at this point. I think it's going to take some time for me to "be happy" about this whole thing. My resentment has been cooling off, and I am putting a lot of effort into trying to get things set up here, find things to do with Gerrit and the baby, and make connections with people. All in all, I guess I'm not as bitter as I once was, but I still wish I was near family and friends. I am really trying to put forth effort in my German class, but learning languages is rather difficult for me. It irritates me when I meet certain people and they basically say, "You're in Germany so you need to speak German." What I really need to learn in German in short order is the following response, "Look, I just got here, I'm having a baby, I just started classes.... so BACK OFF!"
Gerrit loves to help walk his dogs
Jake and Niki wait patiently while Gerrit swings


At October 4, 2007 at 10:12 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Miss you bunches, too! I'm not planning on forgiving Gerard for taking you so far away until he flies me out there so our babies can play and we can knosh.

Of course, this scenario depends heavily on Gerard caring about one of your friend's forgiveness in the first place . . .

At October 15, 2007 at 5:52 AM , Blogger Greg said...

"Look, I just got here, I'm having a baby, I just started classes.... so BACK OFF!"

Welll...I don't know about that, but a nice comment under your breath of "leck mich" or "leck mich am asch" might carry the same message...


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