The first 10 days
(Mon, 26 Feb 2001)

It has not been as cold here as I was afraid it would be. Not that it's warm... but it hasn't gotten down into freezing yet, which is unusual for Germany this time of year. The sun is out now, there's blue sky... it's probably in the 40s, but it doesn't feel bad. About an hour ago, it snowed, although it didn't stick. Everyone keeps saying, "Don't get used to this, because the weather in Germany is AWFUL."

I keep waiting for someone to come into my office and say, "oh, we've changed our mind! You are a complete and utter phony! All of these people have so much world experience and knowledge, they speak at least two languages... how did YOU get here?!"

I can't believe I got here just a week ago yesterday.

Wiley is eating ALOT. It's got to be all the exercise. Be sure to tell Mamaw, okay? He looks really good, although he is still really unsure on his legs. I worry about him taking a turn for the worse in that department. I've been letting Buster run off-leash when we start to head for home from wherever we've walked to, and he's been so good about staying within ear shot. I just wish Wiley wouldn't bark his head off when he sees another dog.

I still don't know where to throw my trash away or my recycling, I still don't have a mailbox or a button to buzz me in my apartment (although this is supposed to be taken care of by Tuesday), I still don't have a home phone (I may have to relent and get a cell phone), and, ofcourse, I still don't have Internet access from home (and until I get a phone adapter, I won't have it from here either via the lap top). But considering what I do have -- a great place to live, a CD player, and a good job -- I'm not really complaining!

My "team" is made up of two Germans, a guy from Nigeria, and two people from Spain. There's one other U.S. guy here, who I will get to work with a little as well. But I'm the only Kentuckian/Texan here!

So far, I've had no greater culture shock than when I moved to Connecticut. THAT was a culture shock!

It's Carnival time -- they REALLY get into it. Last Thursday was the day that women kiss any men that they wish, and they cut men's ties. In the middle of a formal meeting that day, a woman came in blowing a whistle, dressed as a clown, and cut off a co-worker's tie, kissed him, and left. I thought the Nigerian guy that just started working as well was going to run out of the office screaming. He looked terrified. Germans "go crazy" just once a year, and I happened to get here to see it right in time. Carnival officially begins Thursday and continues through Monday.

Saturday, I went to the bike shop to get a bike. I found a very cute red one, reasonably priced -- just a three speed girly bike with a big basket on the front. It's for commuting purposes. So, the very helpful German puts on the lock and shows me how everything works. And I am ever so excited. And we're all set, and I pull out my credit card... and they don't take credit cards. Hey, no big deal. I'll just go to the bank and get some cash -- I have more than enough in my U.S. account, which I had already accessed twice earlier in the week. So I leave and go to THREE different banks. My card doesn't work anymore anywhere! So I go back to the bike shop, all dejected. And... he gives me the bike anyway!! He said I can just bring him the money Tuesday. I AM THE LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE.

Also went to the grocery and spent most of the cash I had getting stuff. I found a much better grocery than the A & P -- better selection.

Yesterday, Buster got to meet Leo, the dog of two co-workers. They romped for just a little bit, then we all went on a short hike (sans Wiley, ofcourse). And then I went over to their place and we ordered Italian food and drank and watched "Snow Falling on Ceders". The heat in their house comes from the floor, so the floor is really warm. At one point, we were all laying around, the movie was on, I was full from eating, and I'm thinking -- how in the hell did I get here?

It snowed this weekend -- I took pictures. I will send some pictures home in a couple of weeks. Everything is gorgeous right now, all dusted in white... It got really, really cold Saturday night, but it's back to the 40 degree range now. If you ever want to know what the weather is like here, just look for the temperature in Brussels, not Berlin (we're closer to Brussels).

I road my bike to work today, along the Rhein, and I just grinned from ear to ear. I just can't believe I live here!!!

More later . . .

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