This past Saturday we drove to Wolfsburg (a little over two hours away) to look at a couple of potential cars. After looking at two disappointing cars (one had an oil leak problem and the other had a transmission problem), we found a great 2009 VW Golf that was under budget! The color wouldn’t have been our first pick, but it had everything we wanted (automatic, heated seats, parking distance control) plus some extras (sunroof and steering wheel controls). Now we just need to add on a roof rack for Morgan and we’ll be good to go.
Driving back home we stopped in Hannover for a late lunch and walked around for just a few minutes. We would have loved to see more of the town but it was extreemly cold and very windy. We’ll get back there before too long though!
Over the past week we got about 6 inches of snow, the schools in town were even closed on Monday (pretty unheard of around here)! Now we are left with brownish grey sludge/snow on most of the sidewalks and parking is pretty tricky because there are huge piles of icy snow on the side of the roads. Last weekend we bought a Siemens fridge off of Ebay, thankfully we still have the huge Skoda rental car that it fit in the back of. We started our German lessons this week, our teacher Antje is really nice and patient. She is an art and architectural history professor at the University of Osnabruck, so I’m hoping when we are farther into our lessons she can recommend some churches/buildings we should check out while we are here. Yesterday we met with an insurance broker to start the process of getting car insurance set up since we are going to look at a couple of cars this weekend. Both are VW’s, so at least we’ll look German when we are driving around. They are both in a town on the other side of Hannover, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to look around Hannover a little on the way back.
This week we also worked on our application for International House Hunters. Morgan has been emailing back and forth with a guy from the show since we came over for our visit in September and last week he sent on over the application and told us to fill it out. I’ve got the first draft done, so now Morgan just needs to look through and see if there is anything I’ve forgotten. Tons of people fill out applications, so we’ll see what happens! I’ve been a little torn about it, I’m afraid we’ll look like dorks on TV, but I figure if we do get picked I just need to go with it… definitely a once in a life time chance!
One thing that I love about Germany is that people are always offering you tee und kaffee.. waiting at your gate at the airport in Frankfurt? – free coffee/tee/cappuccino machine to use; meeting with your account manager at the bank, taking a German lesson, meeting with an insurance broker – every time you are offered a hot drink. I think we’re going to get spoiled!
Below are a few pictures from the past few days.
Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay in getting the blog updated, with some initial trouble with our internet network and focusing on getting settled in, I’m just now getting around to writing my first post. At this point we’ve been here two weeks and we’ve been having pretty good luck so far… I was pretty positive our luggage wasn’t going to arrive with us on the trip over (we had two layovers and the turnaround at Dulles was pretty quick). Somehow all of our bags made it safely and after the airport police in Frankfurt examined Morgan’s server hard drives (which he hand carried on the plane) to make sure they weren’t a bomb or stolen, we were free to head to our gate. We were able to move into our temporary apartment the day we arrived, it is a nice, compact (50 square meters), furnished apartment. We have about a 20 minute walk to city center from here, which really hasn’t been too bad and makes parking much easier.
Last week we were able to get registered with the government, so now Morgan has his visa (he got his right away since he is considered an EU citizen due to his Dutch passport) and I have applied for mine. Since we are married, I automatically get one as well which is HUGE because I’ve heard it is pretty close to impossible for most American wives to get a visa to allow them to work here if their husband is also an American here on a contract. Now I just have to learn German….
Last week we were also able to spend the day with our relocation agent (hired by ZF to help us get settled in) she showed us 4 apartments and helped us set up a bank account at Deutsche Bank. The last apartment we looked at we LOVED, but we were a little dismayed to hear there were several people who had already applied for the apartment before us and there were more people scheduled to come look at it after us. We filled out an application (they wanted to know things like nationality, marital status, age, if you play a musical instrument, etc – a bunch of things you can’t ask about in the US) after talking with the current tenants and they said they would talk with the landlords in a few days and they would let us know if we go the apartment. Monday we were so happy to hear that they had picked us (more of our good luck!). Since there was a couple still living in the apartment, I didn’t take pictures inside when we visited, but we’ll put some up once we get the keys – the first weekend of February. It is on the third floor of a house (most houses in the city are set up with an apartment on each floor, you have to go out towards the suburbs to get single family homes) that was built around 1930. There is a nice size kitchen that was just redone 6 months ago (it has a gas stovetop- Morgan is so excited!) and is big enough to have our dining table in it. Off the kitchen is a small pantry type room that has a door to our balcony (we really, really wanted some outdoor space). Other than the kitchen and one bathroom there are 4 rooms, one we’ll set up as a den, one will be our bedroom that has a pretty big room off of it that the current renters have set up as a HUGE walk in closet so we’ll keep it set up that way (especially b/c our California king bed will take up most of the bedroom, I think one of our dressers will end up in the closet), and the last room will be the guest bedroom/office. We also get to have a closet in the stairwell and a room in the basement for storage (which will get Morgan’s mountain bike out of the apartment – yay! 🙂 ). The backyard of the house is also a shared space, which is nice because with a lot of the houses the person on the first floor gets it exclusively – aka they don’t have to let you use it. Yesterday our landlords (two sisters inherited the house from their parents) and our relocation agent came to our current apartment so we could look over the lease and get their banking information to set up our deposit account. Once the lawyer at the relocation company gives the lease the ok, we’ll sign it and set up the deposit account, then the apartment will officially be ours! I can’t wait to get moved in and get the apartment set up.
One other piece of good luck – all 7 boxes that were airfreighted arrived and in one piece. I was a little worried we’d never see them again since the boxes were MIA for about a week. Now we just need to have the container delivered and keep our fingers crossed our furniture isn’t damaged!
Next up we’ll be looking for a car. The company only covers a rental car for 6 weeks, so by early February we need to know what car we are getting. Since I can’t drive a manual, our options are a little limited over here so we’re on the hunt. Our rental car is a Skoda Superb(veryyyy long station wagon), we’ll be looking for something a little shorter considering how often you have to parallel park here.
In addition to taking care of these housekeeping type things, we’ve been going out to eat and out for drinks with some of Morgan’s colleagues from work, including Philip who we’ve known for a few years since he did an internship in the US (and who came back to the state just for our wedding!). Some of my favorite places for a drink so far have been Bottled (was cozy and had a good atmosphere) and Grüner Jäger (Green Hunter) – here it is popular to order a special that translated is “a threesome” – you get a shot, a beer, and a beef steak and grilled pepper sandwich for like 7€.. a really good deal! Last night we went to Bad Essen (about 30 minutes away) to eat dinner with one of Morgan’s colleagues (who is an America) and his fiancée (who is German). We headed to Bad Essen a little early to walk around while it was still daylight (it gets dark around 17:00 here (yeah, welcome to my life. Darn that military time! ) It is a cute little town and we got to walk around the farmers market while it snowed. Overall yesterday was a really nice day.
Sorry for the long post, just wanted to catch everyone up on the past couple of weeks. From now on I’ll do my best to post more regularly!
I’m going to add some pictures from out time here so far, but back date them to the date they occurred so it doesn’t get too confusing.
A few pictures from our trip to Bad Essen to have dinner with Derek and Mari. Bad Essen is a nice little village about 30 minutes from Osnabrück. Looking forward to going back when we have a little more time to look around!
We walked to city center (about a 20/25 minute walk) and spent the afternoon looking around the shops. On the way we stoped in a cheese shop to pick up something for the Raclette dinner at Philips . Below are some pictures of our walk around town and what our dinner looked like!
The Raclette dinner was a lot of fun. Philip has a raclette machine (a grill type thing). The top is a grill/stone that you can cook meat on. Underneath this there is another layer where you can place your little pan and the heating element above it cooks it as well. You line your individual pan with slices of potato and then pile on as many topings as you want, then you put a slice of cheese on top and wait for it to be cooked/melty and delicious. Thanks to Philip and Imka for putting it together!
Morgan took his birthday off so we could go apartment hunting, set up an account at Deutsche Bank, etc. Here are a few pictures from two of the apartments we looked at (I wasn’t able to take pictures of the apartment we ended up getting, the previous renters were still living there) – both of these had great locations in City Center, but were waayyyy over our budget (around €900 per month, we were looking for more like €650). After house hunting, we went out for a drink to celebrate Morgan’s birthday 🙂
** If you hold your mouse over the picture, it says the title. The captions (if any) show up underneath the picture.
As promised, here are some pictures of our temporary apartment! It is rather small (50 sqr meters) with one bath room, one bedroom, a kitchen, and a living room/dining room. It came furnished (including linens, silverware, plates, etc), which made it really easy for us.