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Expats– A Day in the Life

Here’s an old post. It makes me even more glad to be done with that phase of the transition! I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that it would indeed get much, much better!
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July 26th

We are finally in our apartment! We had a grueling day on Saturday trying to make it happen, and of course I can’t pass up the opportunity to tell you how it went.

 

We rented a car for the day, and Jeff had to take the bus to go pick it up. It was pouring rain, and as a personal favor to me, he had taken Amelia and her car seat with him. They were soaked by the time they got to the rental place. He drove right away over to the mattress store to pick up the the mattresses we had paid for the day before, but they were closed. They sat in the car for ½ and hour, and finally got the mattresses. Here they make them so that you can roll them up and stuff them into a compact car. We got two twins for us rather than a queen– it’s the European Way. They all barely fit into the car, and Jeff drove them to our apartment. It got real real complicated, with this being his first day driving here, and us living on a pedestrian street, an unfortunate foray onto a one-way street, and mattresses blocking the view. Fortunately, a new German friend was on call and crammed himself into the car with the three mattresses, Jeff and Amelia. He helped him get some parking and then haul them up the 35 stairs up to our apartment. Whew!

 

It was 11 a.m. When Jeff picked me up, and he was already sweating bullets. Luckily, I had been enjoying the rare solitude while cleaning and packing up our hotel room, so at least one of us wasn’t strung out when we hit the autobahn. And it was good I started out cool, because I am a very, very untrusting passenger. I like driving, in part because I don’t ever think other drivers are paying nearly as much attention as I am. So it was a trust exercise– which Jeff and I both passed with flying colors as we sped over to Nuremberg.

 

We got to IKEA pretty quickly, with a vague idea of what we needed and a clear sense of the little cash we had on hand and plenty of resolve to push our way through the crowds. To my delight, Amelia really wanted to go into “Smalland,” even though I explained to her that we couldn’t go with her and there would be tons of children inside. She was so excited, and Jeff and I couldn’t believe our good fortune, shopping on our own!

This good feeling lasted until about 20 minutes later, when the pager we had been given went off. For some reason, Jeff felt sure that something terrible had happened, and went running through the store to get to his probably-bleeding-or-in-hysterics-daughter. When he finally got through the mobs of people and furniture, he found her just watching a movie, bored with all of the options in “Smalland.” Poor guy. Needless to say, shopping got MUCH more complicated after that.

We got the bare minimum that we felt like would make us feel at home, and that we could fit into our VW Golf. On our way to checking out, I realized that the set of dressers and armoires that I really loved but couldn’t afford were on sale, at least 50% off! I snagged a lowboy dresser, and we made our purchases. To my surprise, we had only spent half of the money allotted for this trip! We packed all of the items into our car, and they barely fit. But I still wanted those armoires… So we decided we would have them delivered. Somehow, this decision ended up landing us in various lines for over two hours! All told, we spent six life-sucking hours at that store, but it had to be done, and we were just glad it was over when we left.

 

Our original plan for the day had been to go to IKEA, check out Nuremberg and see if there were any other home stores there to look at, maybe get a meal, who knows? We left IKEA at 6:30 and had a 45 minute drive ahead of us. So, we decided we’d drop things off, go to the grocery store (we still hadn’t been to one, since we didn’t have a car and the bigger ones weren’t walkable with a little one) and go out for dinner.

Having Amelia wet her pants at IKEA while in the shopping cart waiting in line made this a lot more complicated. Once we got to Amberg, we decided to go shopping first, and cram the groceries into our stuffed rental car. It took a long time to find the store we wanted, even though we were right there all along– it was just a shop the people we asked directions from weren’t familiar with! We did our quick shopping of a few basic items, and went to pay. There was a line behind us, and I couldn’t find the bigger bill I’d been counting on! We’d spent all of our cash at IKEA except the amount I was planning to use for shopping! This is, in my book, the worst social situation ever. Somehow, I have always had this fear of not having enough money on hand in front of other people. Anyhow, I have now faced that fear. I had to quickly pick out the items that seemed less vital till we came to a total we could afford. Lame.

 

I know this is getting long, but bear with me. It gets worse.

We were starving for dinner and it was 8:00. We wanted to go out to eat, but needed to take care of Amelia’s very stinky clothing situation. After the unloading process (remember, 35 stairs!) I decided I’d give Amelia a bath while Jeff went to pick up our suitcases from the hotel– we didn’t have any clothes at the apartment yet. So Amelia bathed, and we waited and waited. She just hung out in a sheet (we still don’t have towels) until Jeff finally got back with our luggage. But he had forgotten her suitcase!! At this point it was getting too late to even consider going out to eat. I fed the nude little Amelia some odds and ends while Jeff went back for her things. But… He had locked the car into the parking garage, and couldn’t get back in, so he had to walk to the hotel and back. We finally got her into her Pjs and in bed, but… Her “blankey,” sippy cup and pet zebra, all of which are bedtime essentials, were locked in the car, locked in the parking garage. And this was her first night in her new room– there was MUCH wailing. Jeff and I ate some salad on our stairs, and I went in to lay down with her while Jeff just stood around outside the parking garage waiting for the door to open.

 

In the end Jeff got in, we got the essentials, and slept here. But it was definitely not what I had envisioned!! We still don’t have fitted sheets, towels or anywhere to hang our clothes. We have no shelves or chairs, but our dining table is in a flat box waiting to be assembled. The armoires will be delivered tomorrow. Yesterday (Sunday) went better, and we went with some local new friends to a “kinderfest” in town. It was a much better day. We’ll take our time with all of the rest of the stuff, it’s good to finally be in our own space!

 

And this, my friends, is the reality of following a romantic notion of leaving all of your things behind and moving to Europe! And I’m afraid we’d do it all over again, given the opportunity.

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5 Responses to Expats– A Day in the Life

  1. Mullins September 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    No joke, people! It WAS that bad. What a day. So glad that’s over.

  2. Aunt Robin September 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    Yes! I’m glad that’s over! I have to say I loved reading about it though… from a distance.

  3. Elie October 9, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    Oh the Horror! I love the last two lines. I totally know those feelings – both the craziness *and* the idea that you would probably do it again, given the chance!

  4. Connie Saunders October 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Ok Ariana. I was just reading your expat story while drinking my coffee on the couch. Sorry, could not stop laughing at this–yes, so funny from a distance. What a nightmare! I can so picture this whole scene with my own family traveling!

    • ariana October 19, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      Connie, I had *completely* forgotten about this entry and this insanely long day! Thank you for leaving this comment so I could revisit it! It’s true that distance has made it funny, for us too!

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