I have had an unbelievable amount of support these past few weeks while I get myself settled into my new home in Germany. All your goodbyes and good lucks meant the world to me. So first off THANK YOU! I wanted to write you all a little follow up on my experience so far here in Germany because a simple “It’s going really well” doesn’t exactly do it justice.
I have been in Germany now for 3 weeks. I live in a city called Bad Homburg. Bad Homburg is home to about 50,000 people. It is about 20 minutes north of Frankfurt.. which is a huge airport for those of you looking to visit ;) To me, the best part about being in a new city and well country for that matter, is exploring. I love exploring and seeing what my city has to offer. Bad Homburg resembles a typical European town.. beautiful churches, parks, and even a castle. It has a little shopping center and every type of restaurant imaginable. OH and did I mention it has TWO ALDIs. I have yet to discover my favorite coffee shop but it’s still early and there’s plenty of time for that.
Living & Language
I am currently living with a family that is a huge part of the basketball program (The general managers to be exact) The Rhein family has taken me in as one of their own. The family consists of Mike, Liz, and their daughter Emma. Isi is also living with the Rhein family. Both Emma and Isi play on the 2nd team in my club but have been helping out on my team as we have had some injuries as of late. Anyways, the five of us make up a full house.. and there’s Spike. Spike is the family dog. Imagine coming to the realization that you can’t even communicate with a dog..
“Spike come here… Sit”….
** Blank stare
Okay. Yup. That’s English. I’ve stuck with simply patting him on the head for the sake of my ego. Even though I can’t communicate with Spike, I haven’t met another person that I haven’t been able to communicate with. Everyone here in Germany speaks English. It was baffling for me when I first arrived. Their English classes begin at the age of 12 here in Germany and its basically a requirement as you move forward with your education. The Rhein family will speak English when I’m apart of the conversation and continue in German when I am not. Regardless, I am always intently listening in the case that one of my level one German words slide into the conversation. My first victory was when a message on the coffee pot popped up telling me to refill the WASSER.
I’ve been to quite a few European countries now and I think that Germany holds the closest resemblance to the United States. The people and lifestyles are relatively similar. Although, I have seen many similarities in culture and way of life, I have also experienced many differences.
Dinner: There is one big difference, probably not even notable to some, they eat dinner LATE. I mean like 10pm is common. Back home, I am fast asleep by 10pm. It has been a big change for me. My first week here I didn’t go to sleep until at least 1am every night. This was partially to do with the time change and the urge to talk with friends and family back home, but also because there are some nights we even practice until 10pm. However, Mike cooks dinner every night (sorry mom) but he might be the best cook I have met. Unique meals and different cuisine than I’m used to. Coming from “college cooking” = meal prep on Sunday and eat the same thing for dinner every night that week… this is quite the change up. So I guess there are pros and cons to late dinners.Grocery Shopping: This difference was of course to be expected. However, like mentioned briefly before Germany is home to ALDI. What more does one need?? It is simple to grocery shop back home because you usually know exactly what you want or where it is exc. Well grocery shopping here has kind of been a mystery. I’m a pretty simple eater but I still looked like a lost puppy dog wandering the grocery store for the first time. Made a few rookie mistakes. Chocolate milk is apparently not the most popular thing here in Germany. I purchased the container that was brown and looked to be chocolate milk. I was later informed that I had bought wheat chocolate milk… similar to almond milk but made with wheat instead. Interesting and not all that bad. My other mistake was buying “milch reis” in mistake for yogurt. Milch reis is a type of rice pudding so you can imagine my surprise when taking my first bite of yogurt and it had chunks of rice in it..Car: Part of my contract was that I would be provided with a car (perfect for my exploring self) However, nowhere in my contract does it mention that the car is going to have an automatic transmission. So a manual car it is. Like I have never even seen a manual car in the United States and now my means of transportation relied on this manual car or my two feet. Yes, I picked my two feet for the first week but I finally received some driving lessons from Mike and the following week I was on my way to driving to the gym by myself. Took a few breaks along the way.. usually unintentionally at stop signs when I proceeded to stall the car.. hehe BUT I have gotten much better since then. In addition to figuring out how to drive a manual car, I have also had to study up on my German road signs and get accustomed to their way of driving. There’s no way around it than to just be point blank.. they are crazy drivers. (I have also learned its a German trait to be blunt and to the point so I’m just embracing the culture)
This has been the biggest difference for me. Basketball back home was a way of life. In college it was your life. We’d practice everyday, we’d have lifting, community events, team functions, exc. It was all consuming. Here, they view sports differently. They don’t associate sports with their education. Their high schools and Universities do not provide sports teams and if you wish to join one you have to seek out a club. I am apart of one of these club programs. The teams offer girls and guys teams of all ages. My team is considered the “professional” team for the club. Usually, the only difference in a professional team and a club team is if the team can afford to hire foreign players. My team consists of players from The United States, Spain,The UK, Bulgaria, and of course Germany. It’s a unique group of players and its exciting to be apart of. My head coach is both German and American so practices are run in English which is extremely beneficial as I was already pretty lost the first week of practices as I tried learning all the plays and offenses.
We have won both games since I have been here. It’s been a great feeling to be back out on the court. Even if it’s a different team, coach, and country.. it’s still basketball and it’s a great feeling. I should note Mike cheers me after my first win as a Falcon. Like literally met me on the court after the game and handed me a beer. I thought I was being tested. But turns out after the game we roll/stretch with a beer in hand. (I hate beer but for some reason it was a tad bit tolerable after a win) so cheers to Germany and their love for beer.
My games are not being streamed live at the moment but they are available after the fact. If you’re interested in getting the link just let me know or I always send it to my parents as well.
Anyways, that’s my first impression of Germany so far! Lots of “firsts” but I am enjoying my free time and thankful that I am able to continue to play basketball for another year :)