There are good days, really good one's but there are also bad days. There are things that I really like but also things that I'm having a hard time with.
From past experiences, I know that it will take at least six months until one might have a vaguely answer to that question. In a lot of cases more than a year. For us it will definitely still take a while because here is the thing: we don't have a rhythm yet. The kids are still home (preschool will only start in September), I STILL don't have a car (picture this, Alabama friends! 5 weeks without a car! ;) and I don't have a plan on what to do with my life... at least not yet.
When you are an expat/expat partner the rhythm of life is defined more quickly. Usually you will get your things much faster (at least in the US) and you know what you're role is going to be. Either you will be the one working or, very often, the accompanying partner will stay home.
But when you move to a place for good, you have to find your rhythm and you are mostly on your own. My kids are now a little over two and four and I feel the itch to work again. But after being home for a little over four years I find it hard to define what I want to do in terms of my career. And then there is all this negative talk that you hear... "It's almost impossible to find a decent part-time job."/ "You have two kids, no one will want to hire you."... YES, it's most likely very realistic but I want to focus on the positive side of life and I believe that if you really want something, you will make it happen.
So overall I can say, we definitely all still need more time to settle in, but I think we are overall adjusting well so far. Some things simply take more time....
Let's focus on the ten most positive things, the things that we really like about Germany in the meantime :)
- PRETZELS - there is a bakery around every corner and we are lucky to have one with the most amazing pretzels in a 5-minute walking distance
- WALKING - I love that we can walk to places, like the playground, grocery store, bakery, a few restaurants and a store that caries all these amazing magazines that I missed in the last years. After all that driving in Alabama it's a really nice change. I still miss having a car right now! ;)
- SANDBOXES - the kids simply love them and since there are almost no sandboxes in the US, it's a new thing for them. We bought some stuff to play with and they are happily baking sand cakes.
- DM - kind of a Walgreen's / Rite-Aid type store but minus the prescription drugs and with lots of yummy products for your skin, kids and food items. Also, a small play area for the kids. I simply love DM!
- PROXIMITY - Germany borders nine countries: Austria (HOME!), Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. Lots of potential for longer road trips or shorter weekend trips!
- PROXIMITY - Part 2: As mentioned, Austria, my home country, is suddenly in driving distance. More time back home with family and friends. One of the best things ever!
- TASTE - it's true, food tastes better here. Almost everything. I don't know what it is but from butter to strawberries to tomatoes and cucumbers, All taste better! And it's way cheaper too!
- GEMUETLICHKEIT - you can order a cup of coffee and sit, chat, read the newspaper. The server is not going to put the check on your table. No one will bother you. You can just relax. European Gemuetlichkeit.
- BEING OUTSIDE - after having spent two years in Alabama, I cannot tell you how amazing it is to have the windows open all day long, hang your laundry outside and let the kids play outside as much as possible. All things that you could never do in Alabama because of the heat, bugs, etc. We really missed that and enjoy it a lot.
- OLD & NEW FRIENDS - we are lucky to know a bunch of great people here. Almost all of them have been expats in the US as well, so they know how we feel and understand us. And we are lucky to have joined a small international children's group here in Stuttgart and have met some really nice, multinational families that have quickly become new friends.