Learning German Update

 

It’s been quite a while since I did an update on what it’s like to learn German. Last week I finished my A2 book, which feels like such an accomplishment. For reference, foreign language levels go from A1 – C2 or beginner to fluent. My goal for our time living in Germany is to complete B1 because that’s the level where you can have conversations, can legally work and can legally stay in Germany as a foreigner.

I’ve been upping my studying game recently and wanted to share some tips that have really worked for me. If you’ve ever learned another language, I would love to hear what tips you have. Leave me a comment below.

I now have three different notebooks surrounding German studying. I have one for grammar, one for vocabulary and one for homework and exercises. I really like the vocabulary notebook instead of notecards because it doesn’t take up as much space and it’s easier to flip through while watching tv or taking a coffee break at work. I did like flash cards in the beginning because I was at home all the time, but now that I’m working and on the go a lot more, I like being able to grab the notebook and being able to flip through it when I have a second.

Finding online worksheets, especially for pronouns and other grammar topics, has definitely helped. I found several websites that offer free or donation-based worksheets for all sorts of different topics and the sites also have the answers. (I love this site). I write out the full worksheet into my notebook and then write my answers. It takes longer but writing the words and sentences helps my comprehension. Pronouns are the hardest part of German for me and I really need the practice. There’s also a lot of information on Pinterest, which I never would have thought. Practice makes perfect, right?

Speaking more with coworkers and friends. Vinn and I try to speak German as much as possible at home. Admittedly, we could do this a lot more but sometimes at the end of a long day, the last thing we want to do is keep our brains turned on and thinking in German. Speaking is the quickest way to learn to a language, I’ve learned. Once I got over the fear of sounding stupid, my German knowledge actually grew.

 

If  you could learn a new language, what language would you pick? If you have learned another language, what tips do you have?

 

Learning German isn't Easy, Here are some tips that have helped me

 

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American Household Products I Miss

 

In today’s edition of things I miss from America, I’m sharing all of the household products that I prefer in the USA compared to Germany. The products in Germany are healthier and not as toxic as the products in America because the European standards for products are higher but there are some things that I like better from the States.

I would also categorize myself as a neat freak/control freak/perfectionist, so not having some of these has been a big adjustment. If you know of any products that are similar to these that are available in Germany, I’d love to hear them!

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Clorox Wipes

I used to wipe down our bathroom and kitchen countertops every single day with Clorox wipes. They are so easy and quick to use that make cleaning not as much of a chore. I love the convenience of the wipes, too, because you only need one thing. You don’t have to spray anything, then use a paper towel. It’s super lazy but keeps the countertops clean during the week until I deep clean. Germany doesn’t love wipes in general because it produces a lot of waste, which is true, but sometimes I wish I had them for quick cleaning.

Shark Vacuum

I am just going to say it, I hate my vacuum here in Germany. We bought it from another expat couple who was moving back to America, which is so nice, but there isn’t a big enough surface area to pick up all the dust and crumbs off the floor. I loved our Shark vacuum that we actually received as a wedding present and I miss it so much. It is seriously the best vacuum around because it is super lightweight, has lots of attachments to get into corners, easily transitions from carpet to hardwoods and does a fantastic job in a short period of time.

Anthropologie Candles

This one isn’t necessarily a household product but I really miss those big candles that just smell amazing. The candles here aren’t as potent, if you will, and don’t last as long. I used to light candles every single night in the States and I’ve gotten away from that habit here. There’s no Anthropologie or Bath and Body Works and I have yet to find some comparable candles.

Queen Sheets 

Queen size mattresses just aren’t a thing in Europe. We brought our mattress with us and thank goodness we did. It’s a pillow top and the most comfortable thing in the world. The problem is that we can’t buy queen sheets anywhere. We brought one pair with us thinking we could just buy another pair once we moved, but we haven’t yet! We haven’t really run into a problem, it’s just that I have to wash them and put them back on in the same day. New queen sheets are definitely on my list of things to buy when we go back to the States for Christmas.

Ziplock Baggies

The plastic here in Germany isn’t the same when it comes to baggies. I have found some here but only in quart size, which are way too big for every day use. I wish I could just go to Costco and get the lifetime supply of Ziplock sandwich baggies. I definitely use more containers here, which I suppose is a good thing, but sometimes I just want some baggies!

Tin Foil 

Last but not least, I miss tin foil. Tin foil exists but it’s not as thick and definitely not Reynolds Wrap. It almost feels waxy here, not as sturdy and not as popular. I can’t really explain the differences but I just don’t seem to like the tin foil here. The box isn’t as nice either and it is super difficult to cut the foil. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cut myself from trying to rip the foil off the “cutter.”

These products are trivial and don’t make or break having a good or bad day, but sometimes I really wish I could swing by Target and grab everything on this list in one fell swoop. Oh, that would be so nice. But, it’s an experience and I’m adjusting.

What are your favorite household products?

 

Living abroad is amazing, but I miss some household products from the USA

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Watching American TV Abroad

 

Admittedly, I love TV. I have an addiction to the Real Housewives of most cities and have seen the majority of the seasons at least once. We cut cable in Michigan about a year before we moved to Germany but we had Netflix and Hulu. I was able to watch the majority of shows I wanted to watch and didn’t really miss cable.

Add in an international move and I immediately started to miss cable and tv in general. We decided not to get German cable in an effort to save money. Of course, we are traveling quite a bit and not spending all of our time inside watching tv, but there are definitely Sundays spent on the couch relaxing and nights after work where binge watching something is all my brain can handle.

So, how do we watch American tv while living in Germany?

*This post contains affiliate links.*

It’s simple: Netflix and iTunes.

Netflix is the easiest option because 1) it is still paid via our US bank account and 2) I didn’t have to do anything to update our account, our Apple TV just knows we are in Germany based on our IP address. Netflix also works in other countries the same way. The only issue is that many shows on US Netflix are not available on German Netflix. Germany requires steep taxes for movie and tv production companies, so many shows do not want to pay. There’s no 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation, which is a big bummer, but we have other shows that we probably wouldn’t have watched, like Suits. Netflix also has lots of German shows, too, so it helps with learning German, too.

iTunes is really how I watch the majority of my tv and that’s because it’s how I can watch my housewives shows. Shout out to my dad for Apple Family Plan! I really don’t think I could have survived without it. It’s a taste of home and the perfect background noise. I just started rematching season 3 and 4 of New Jersey and, man, did I forget how awesome these seasons were!

I have some friends who also watch things on Amazon but I have no experience with that. My sister has Amazon Prime and she absolutely loves it. Not sure if it makes sense to have Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it once we move back.

Other people we know have a VPN that allows them to watch cable from an American tv. Here’s an article on how to set up a VPN but I find it too complicated and don’t want to put in the effort to figure this out. It seems like a lot of work to just watch This is Us. 

I’d love to know what you are watching now. Leave me a comment down below! 

 

How to watch your favorite American tv shows in Germany

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Visiting the Vet in Germany

 

It is no secret that I am obsessed with my 6 pound Cockapoo, Copley.  Just check out my Instagram feed, it’s mostly her. When we found out we were moving to Germany, people would ask me, “What are you going to do with your dog?” What do you mean? What a silly question. It never once crossed my mind that we would leave Copley at home. She would absolutely be coming with us, she is a member of our family.

After going through all of the tedious paperwork to bring her to Germany, I was nervous about finding a vet here that would speak English and provide the best care for our beloved dog. Luckily, we ended up finding a great vet clinic nearby that has great vets on staff, speaks English and is not expensive.

If you’re moving to Germany or have a dog and wonder what it’s like here, today I thought I’d share what it’s like to visit the vet in Germany.

What to bring with you

It’s smart to bring all the documents you have with you, especially the first time you visit a vet in Germany. To read what documents you need, check out this post on bringing your dog to Germany. I also always have my phone out during an appointment just in case something is said in German and I need to quickly look it up!

Making an appointment

Some vets let you make appointments online, while others you have to call and others don’t actually have appointments and it’s just on a first-come, first-served basis. I have found that our vet has lots of appointments and I only need to make one about a week in advance so that it fits nicely into my schedule.

Making an appointment is intimidating but I will say that 80% of people in Germany speak English, so you can work it out together!

Arrival time

Stereotypically, Germans are very punctual. I’ve certainly waited for a doctor’s appointment here, but at the vet, they are very prompt. If it’s your first appointment, arrival a few minutes early because you will have paperwork to fill out.

The visit

In my experience, vet visits in Germany are quick, simple and to the point. For example, Copley jumped off the couch at the same time that I was getting up and I accidentally pushed her and she landed funny on her leg. She let out a horrific cry, I started crying and she wouldn’t put any weight on her leg or walk. We took her to the vet where they examined her, said she was fine and most likely just bruised, gave her some pain medicine and said to just watch her for a few days and if it didn’t get any better to come back and they would do X-Rays.

I really liked this approach. It was cautious but they felt Copley was OK and we didn’t need to go straight to the worst possible scenario. I especially appreciate this because I tend to think the worst immediately and in this instance, I felt even more guilt because it was my fault. (Copley was fine after a few days.)

Visits in Germany are quite similar to vet visits in the States, except there isn’t a discussion with a vet tech first and then the vet comes in. Here we meet with the vet right off the bat and the techs bring in medicine or help hold the dog. We always communicate with a vet.

Payment

Interesting fact about our German vet: you have to pay for medicine separately. This surprised me at first but now I’m used to it. Many people recommend getting pet insurance but we don’t have it because the majority of Copley’s medical expenses have happened already, like rabies vaccine and getting spayed.

The bills are significantly cheaper here, too, especially for after hours care. We took Copley to a 24-hour emergency clinic in Michigan about two weeks before we moved because she threw up four times in one day (it was stress from the move) and it cost about $400 because we did get a X-Ray. Her standard vet check-ups probably cost upwards of $50 each time. In Germany, a normal visit is 30 Euros and medicine is way less expensive. Her trip for her leg cost less than 100 Euros. We’ve never worried about the money aspect and will obviously pay whatever the amount but it’s nice to know that it isn’t going to be a huge expense every time we go to the vet.

Medicine and Medical History

I was able to keep Copley on the same heart worm medicine (she takes Bravecto) and a similar flea and tick tablet, as well. There hasn’t been any issues in regards to finding her medicine or getting vaccines. The kennel cough vaccine isn’t super popular here in Germany but since it is recommended in the States, we continue to give it to her since she travels back and forth to America about once a year.

A major positive of Germany is the pet passport. It is a little booklet that keeps all the dog’s medical history in one place. It is ideal because I can easily see when a vaccine expires and can even have the vet mark that she is healthy enough to fly. I wish I had this for myself.

All in all, visiting the vet in Germany is a similar experience as it is in the States but I wish I had an article like this to read when we were moving to help ease my mind that we would be able to find someone to trust when it comes to our dog’s care.

If you have a dog, what do you love most about them? Did it take you a long time to find a vet?

 

Taking my dog to the vet in Germany, what it's like and how it's different than the US

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World’s Largest Pumpkin Festival

 

Happy Monday, my friends. And happy 500th post from me! It’s hard to believe I’ve written 500 posts on this blog and the first few are quite embarrassing to re-read and I won’t even link to them for fear that you will read them. Thank you for reading and I hope you keep following along.

This past weekend we went to the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, which is the world’s largest pumpkin festival. Isn’t that crazy? We visited last year and had so much fun that we just had to visit again. And, of course, Copley had to put on her pumpkin costume!

It was awesome to cross something off my fall bucket list and walk around the gorgeous ground of the Ludwigsburg Palace, looking at all the pumpkins on display, hearing everyone call Copley “Kürbis Hund” (pumpkin dog) and enjoying the gorgeous weather.

What’s there to do at the Pumpkin Festival? Well, there’s a store with decor, pumpkin prosecco, pumpkin purees. There’s food stands all around with pumpkin ice cream, waffles, bratwurst, pumpkin soup and more. There’s a playground for children and gorgeous structures made from pumpkins.

And now for a photo dump.

Worlds Largest Pumpkin Festival

 

Ludwigsburg Castle

 

Dog at Pumpkin Festival

 

Pumpkin Festival

 

Pumpkin_Festival_Ludwigsburg

 

Pumpkin Festival Chariot

 

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

 

Worlds Largest Pumpkin Festival

 

World's Largest Pumpkin Festival, Ludwigsburg Germany

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