Ten Things That Surprised Me about Our Transitional Life
This list will include items from our transition from living in Germany and returning to the states in addition to leaving the military culture. Though I married into the military, leaving it and getting used to civilian life again has required an adjustment period. Every once in a while, we are greeted with another snafu to handle.
- Trash days are not “color coded.” Even if you live in a town with recycling, collection of the trash and recycling typically occurs on the same day of the week every week. In Germany, the trash schedule rotates throughout the month. The black trashcan includes anything not recyclable. The blue bin contains paper and boxes. Yellow bags only hold plastic or other types of packaging. Food goes in a brown bin shared by several neighbors for compost. I am still getting used to having a garbage disposal, something non-existent in Germany. Retraining the kids is even more challenging, both on simply putting the food covered plate in the sink and no longer sorting the trash. I expected to simply fall back into what I used to do. Three years changed my method of doing things, apparently.
- While housing in Plainview is less expensive than Germany, we experienced disappointment with our initial search. Our apartment is in a good location for Peter’s job and the price is affordable. The size is smaller than we had in Germany and we miss the use of my father-in-law’s garage. We hope to find something better suited in the future, perhaps a place where the books will once again have a room of their own.
- This move went less than “without a hitch” but better than everything falling in the ocean. We are still waiting to hear back regarding our damages claim. In my initial conversations with the point of contact on this matter, I expected that though it takes up to 45 days, that our “simple” claim would not take the full time. She led me to believe as much. I will not make assumptions like that again, not that we plan to move overseas again.
- While we miss many foods, particularly Doner, being back in the land of the drive-thru and Tex-Mex makes that loss bearable.
- One of the first times I went for a drive by myself, I sat at a light waiting to turn right. In Germany, you may only turn right on red if the light has a sign with an arrow next to it. I must have been enjoying the silence and hearing myself think. Fortunately, no one was behind me honking or waving rudely as I realized I could turn right on red in America.
- Almost everything about going back to civilian insurance has surprised or completely shocked me. From the monthly cost, to the copays, to the hoops of verification I took for granted how much behind the scenes “stuff” other people handled with our “free” Military Health Care.
- I miss quiet hours, especially on Sunday. No one in Germany would dare mow or do noisy yard work on a Sunday afternoon. Quiet hours were strictly enforced and violators fined. Apartment life makes me miss quiet hours simply because you can hear every time the neighbors open or close the doors, among other things. While we no doubt make our share of obnoxious noise, I have young children with a somewhat strict bedtime routine.
- Peter learned that time is different in the civilian workforce. Not everyone starts working at 8:00, even if that is what the supervisor says. He is often the first to arrive at the office. At the present time, he is still a trainee, so this is not a full advantage. In about three weeks, he will have more control of his own time. This should provide balance in his work/school life as he continues to pursue his goals.
- Germany yards and streets tend to be clean and free of trash. It is disheartening to see trash in our parking lot or “yard” or lining our street. At our local Chicken Express, a sign posted at the Drive Thru reads, “Do Not Litter, God is Watching.” (Dietrich asks no less than five questions about this sign and its meaning every time we go to Chicken Express). Clearly, many people neither care about Who may be watching or about taking pride in their home. I pick up trash from the yard and parking lot almost daily, though none of it is mine. I hope this is teaching my children to be responsible, even when the mess is not theirs (both literally and figuratively).
- While I never let Dietrich wander freely, I enjoyed that children could play and explore their world. Dietrich occasionally rode his bike while I kept watch from the balcony above a few times. The locals let their children ride to the playground and walk to and from the bus stop by themselves, even as young as five! Part of me wants to allow Dietrich more freedom to explore his world. Our apartment is located on a busy street, making such exploration unsafe. We are still new to this town and still trying to figure out our routine.
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