Throwback Thursday: Repatriation day plus one year.

A lot of my friends do this thing on Facebook called Throwback Thursday, where you post a really old photograph of yourself, but I realized a few days ago that this Thursday would be the first of October.  It’s been precisely one year since I left Germany to start my life over here in South Florida.

In that time:

  • I spent just over four months living in my brother’s spare bedroom which was also his office after my return.  I’m still very grateful for his hospitality-  by staying there, I was able to find an apartment on my own terms.  When I moved to Germany, I had to live in a hotel for three weeks while I searched for my apartment.  This was significantly more relaxed.
  • Soon after my arrival, I inexplicably won a Bose SoundLink Mini in a contest from my web hosting provider.  Thanks, DreamHost!
  • On my first weekend back, I attended the wedding of a man I’ve known for more than twenty years now.
    I brought Amelie as my date.   I first met Amelie a few years ago, and we officially became a couple during my last year in Germany.  This was the first time we went to a wedding together.  Amelie wore a Valentino dress, and she looked awesome.
    valentino  wedding2
  • I reacquainted myself with Tijuana Flats.  Amelie introduced me to Shake Shack.
  • I relearned the convenience of grocery shopping whenever the heck I feel like it instead of having to do it before 8pm on weekdays.
  • About a month after my return, I purchased a car.   My previous car was sold when I moved to Germany, so I was starting from scratch.  After much deliberation, I decided on a Mazda 3 hatchback.  This decision proved beneficial later, when Amelie and I bought all new furniture for my apartment at Ikea.  The storage in this hatchback is insane.
  • Amelie and I have gone to many, many concerts since my return, including some long time favorites of mine (Information Society, Kraftwerk, Weird Al Yankovic) and some favorites of hers (My Morning Jacket, Barenaked Ladies, Paramore, Pixies) as well.
    Kraftwerk Information Society
  • During the late January trip to California to see Information Society, Amelie and I briefly visited with my old friend Miri in the Sacramento area.  Less than six months later, Miri took her own life.  That sucks.
  • Back to fun stuff!  Amelie and I have also been to six theme parks in South Florida since my return-  all four Florida Disney parks, and both of the Universal Studios parks.  We are now Disney annual pass holders, because it’s so close!
  • On the fifth month, I moved into my own apartment, a one bedroom affair boasting 617 square feet of space.  It’s 150% the size of my apartment in Regensburg, yet somehow feels smaller.  This can probably be accounted for by the actual kitchen, which does eat up a bit of space.   Totally worth it, though.
  • I spent five weeks in Japan for work, and I’m only about a quarter of the way through posting those photographs.  This was the 27th country outside of the US that I have visited.
  • Work also sent me to Utah for a week.  It’s not as fascinating as Japan, but it’s still pretty darn scenic.
  • Edit: I didn’t realize this until I hit publish, but this is the 350th post on this blog.  I thought that was momentous enough to warrant a post-publish edit!

So the running total for this last twelve months:  One wedding, one funeral, one new country, three out of state trips, and lots of concerts and shows.  I wanted to write a great deal more, but one thing that I’ve noticed in the last year is that time goes much, much faster here.  I often feel like I don’t have enough time to write everything that I want to write.  In Germany, it felt like I had a great deal more time to write and so forth.

This doesn’t mean I’m not having fun, though.    While I was scrolling through my phone’s camera roll for this post, I noticed two things:  First, that I’ve taken better than five thousand photos in the past year, just on my phone.  That’s not even including the ones on the big camera that I take traveling.   I take a LOT of photographs.  I think I may have an addiction.  Second:  In a huge percentage of the pictures, I’m with this girl, and I’m smiling like a fiend:


That’s because I have a great time with her. She’s the Bonnie to my Clyde, and I love her to bits.  I don’t usually talk about her much here in great detail, but anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while has seen her name and her picture lots of times.

Last October, I came back to Florida.  It wasn’t until I was with Amelie again that I was truly home.


So what have you been up to for the last twelve months?

First thoughts on readjusting to life in Florida

I’ve been back in the US for roughly a week and a half now, and the re-entry has been pretty smooth for the most part.  There have been a few tricky things, however.

The currency – After three years with the Euro (and that wonderful €2 coin,) I’ve been having a difficult time readjusting back to the Dollar.  Especially the coins.   The paper money is confusing though-  with the Euro, every denomination is a different size and color.  All of the paper money here is the same size and color, whether it’s a $1 or a $100.  I’ve already flubbed at least one cash transaction.  Speaking of which….

The credit card usage – I went out to lunch with three of my co-workers, and when it was time to pay, I looked around the table-  each of my colleagues had a credit card out for their check, and I had cash out for mine.  I simply forgot how prevalent credit card usage is here, and how little Americans use cash for many things.  That will take a while to remember.

The deodorant – I forgot that some of my regular use products simply aren’t sold in the United States.  My deodorant is a perfect example of this.  During my time in Germany, I’ve become fond of a Nivea solid stick which is simply not sold in the US.    I’m going to have to choose a new deo when my current stick runs out.

The dishwasher – After three years of hand washing all my dishes, it’s utter bliss to be able to just put them in a machine again.   This one isn’t a problem readjusting, it’s just something I wanted to take note of.

The paycheck – In Germany, I got paid once per month.  Here, it’s twice a month.  Having a significantly shorter time between paychecks makes me feel a little bit like time is passing more quickly.

The elevators – Whenever I get into a lift in Germany, the ground floor is either EG or the numeral zero.  The first floor is up one flight of stairs.  Floor two is what an American would call the third floor.  Fast forward to this weekend, in an elevator-  on two or three separate occasions, we reached the floor marked 1 and I stayed in the elevator thinking I still had one more floor to go.

The sugars – I need to find a new caffeine delivery system, I think.  Three years in Germany where the Cola is made with real sugar has spoiled me.  I seem to have lost my tolerance to high fructose corn syrup – any time I drink a normal US Coke product here, I have terrible heartburn.  This is especially frustrating because these amazing Coke machines are all over the place here, and the flavor mixing is fantastic. (Rasberry Coke, anyone?)  Mexican Coke (made with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup) is available here, but it’s comparatively expensive.

cola1 cola2

The drink ice – Ice isn’t common in drinks in Germany, so I forgot about the behavior of a cup filled more than halfway with ice-  when I tilted the cup forward to drink, the ice shifted position and caused a splash.  This in turn caused a mini tidal wave in the glass, which then proceeded to wet my pants.   Amelie was terribly amused.

The measurements – It’s going to take me a little while to stop thinking in terms of kilometers and Celsius.    All I know for sure is it’s freaking hot outside and sub-arctic in my office.

The air conditioning – In Germany, I had no air conditioning in my home or my office.  I thought I would enjoy returning to the land of AC, especially since the temperatures have been in the 90s much of the time since my return, but I was wrong.  Americans don’t use AC sparingly, they crank it.  In Germany, it’s been around 50F and I consider that almost t-shirt weather.  In my office, I have to wear a hoodie.  Every restaurant I’ve been to is freezing, almost literally.  It’s astonishing that I feel far colder in Florida than I ever did in Germany.

The shopping – I thought the weirdest thing here would be the Sunday grocery shopping, but the thing that is hitting me more strangely is the ability to walk into the grocery store to get pain killers and basic medical needs.    After three years with that only being in an Apotheke, having aspirin at the gas station is just weird.

Expats, what differences have you noticed between your homeland and your current home?

The Repatriation Countdown Checklist

I’m less than thirty weeks from the end of my stay here, less than 200 days from moving back to the United States.  I’ve watched many of my fellow expatriate bloggers go through the process of leaving, and every time one of us approaches the end, there’s a sort of checklist that we go through.  Been to Oktoberfest?  Check.  Taken the usual picture of Neuschwanstein?  Check.  Had a beer on the Zugspitze?  Seen Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate?  Visited Prague?  Check, check, check.

I’m no different.  There’s a slew of things that I feel compelled to finish before I go.  I still have a few Category One stations left to visit.   I have a bunch of cities and countries that I want to see before I leave.    Moving back to the US won’t stop me from visiting and traveling around Europe, but it will slow it down a great deal.

Even so, the Countdown Checklist mode has set in for me too.   I just got back from Hamburg, and between now and my departure in October,  I’m going to take trips to Dresden, Leipzig, Heidelberg (#hbergmeetup!), Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Berlin again, and Furth im Wald to see a giant robot dragon!

I’m also doing some extreme padding of my “countries I’ve visited” resume before I go.  Here’s the places I’ve got solid plans to visit:

  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Bruges, Belgium
  • Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
  • Keukenhof for the Tulip Festival, just outside of Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Krakow, Poland and Auschwitz
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Vienna, Austria (again)
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Vaduz, Liechtenstein

…and that’s all before mid-summer!

For those of you who have moved back home, did you have a Repatriation Countdown Checklist?  Tell me about it in comments.