Hey! It might get a little quiet around here for the next couple of months because our family has some pretty exciting plans in the works: we’re going to Germany for the summer!
For a long time, my husband and I have had a dream to see what it’s like to live abroad for at least a little while. I can remember sitting together at Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe, AZ after a marriage retreat in 2014 when we first came up with the idea we called Operation 2020. (If you’ve ever been on a marriage retreat, you know how they encourage you and your spouse to talk about your shared values, hopes, and dreams.) Over what I recall being a really tasty salmon salad, we talked about how cool it would be to spend an entire year in a foreign country. Immersing in the language, culture, and day-to-day life of a totally different place seemed like an incredible experience we could give our kids (and ourselves, who are we kidding?) We figured that by 2020 our kids would be ideal ages–13, 11, and 9–for travel, and we’d have six whole years to plan and save.
Germany was the logical choice for our destination. I am what you might call a Germophile. My family heritage is Swiss and German, my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are both in German, and I taught German language at the college level at Arizona State for a couple semesters. I spent the summer of 2003 in Germany on a study abroad program with my alma mater, Wheaton College. Since Anthony and I wanted language learning to be a component of our kids’ experience abroad, it only made sense to go where at least one of us speaks the language and feels somewhat familiar.
As time went by, though, the reality of what it would mean to spend an entire year in Germany began to dawn on us. Probably, we’d have to quit our jobs, figure out work visas, and find some means of employment that would support a family of five for a year…not to mention having to either homeschool our kids or find a suitable school for them in another country. This mountain of potential obstacles dimmed our enthusiasm for making our trip last a whole 12 months. Our thinking began to shift. What if we spent three months instead? Like a summer? No visas required, no taking the kids out of school, and maybe Anthony could even keep his job and work remotely.
When we looked at this option, it seemed vastly more appealing, and we realized it could happen sooner than our original plan! With me finishing my nutrition degree last December, I knew I could work part-time in the spring to make a little money, leave for the summer of 2017, then perhaps find a more “serious” job upon our return. (Though I do plan to stay at my position at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum for awhile!) Anthony discovered he could in fact work remotely–coincidentally his co-worker has been doing just that from Germany off and on for the last year or so. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
And then came the additional motivator of Donald Trump becoming a serious candidate for presidency. What better time to leave the country?
So in September 2016 we started looking at flights. After clearing with our kids’ principal that they wouldn’t be kicked out of school if they left a couple of weeks before the end of the year–hey, travel is educational!–we bought tickets to spend 80 days in Germany, starting May 8th. The eight months since then have been a maelstrom of preparations. Our itinerary is now set with two weeks in Munich, one week in Vienna, and eight weeks in Cologne. I’ve wracked my brain to try to think of every detail of everything that needs to get taken care of before we leave, from the macro level of train tickets and accommodations to the micro level of how many earrings to pack. Our departure date is now four days away and I’m crossing my fingers that basically everything is, as the Germans say, “erledigt”–which is a nice one-word way of saying “taken care of.” At this point, my feelings about the trip keep reminding me of pregnancy: after eight months, I’m just ready to GO!
I’ll try to post delicious recipes and interesting nutrition content as much as I can over the summer, but things might be sparse here on the blog for awhile. (Who knows, though, maybe I’ll learn a lot about German cuisine?)
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and tasty summer. See you in August!