Sunday, 7 August 2011

A new broom sweeps clean

I've been offline for a few days because we had a little unfortunate "accident" with my laptop.  Arne accidentally spilled water on it.  He felt sooo bad, especially because I'm usually the clumsy one, not him.  A note to anyone planning to buy a new laptop in Germany: unless you want everything to be in German, don't! The keyboard is also different. German has a different alphabet with special characters like ö ä € Ü ß etc. And so the keys on the keyboard are in different places than what your fingers are accustomed to. This I could get used to, but having everything Windows etc. in German is not ideal, and you don't have the option to change it. This was a real challenge. Luckily I have an IT guru husband who was able to work his magic and get me back online again. Phew!

On the matter of new purchases, I had to buy a broom the other day. A boring purchase I know, but it turned out I learnt something new. 

The brush/bristles part of the broom is sold separately from the handle.  Apparently in small living apartments this comes in handy because you can have one handle and many brushes; one for inside the house (soft), one for outdoors (hard), a mop, etc.

Losing my independence...
One of the challenges I am faced with at the moment is that I'm not able to be all that independent.  Mainly because I'm still learning German and also because I have no car (...yet..I hope).

Little words I don't know in German can help a lot! A light bulb in lounge exploded on Friday (that's why I needed a broom).  The electricity tripped, and normally I would be fine to switch it back on a again. But this was one mains board I was not familiar with.  I pressed, fiddled and flicked the switches but nothing!  The German instructions didn't help.  Arne had just left the house for work so I had to call him back to my rescue. Silly me! I had to push the red button. 

Then we needed a pliers because the part that screws into the light fitting got stuck - it stayed behind while the glass landed all over the floor.

I called the landlady and it took me ages to explain what had happened. At first she thought I'd broken a lamp. Then she seemed to understand. But trying to explain to someone on the phone what a pliers is when you don't know the German word was quite funny.  The word is "Zange" I now know.

When one goes from having their own car, and never using the bus (in SA this is not a common thing for the privileged 5% of the population I had the joy of falling under), it can be quite a daunting thing to figure out the public transport system in a new country. Understanding the bus numbers, schedules and stops is a bit confusing at first. Plus you need to know when to press the button on the bus for the driver to stop  at your bus-stop.  If you don't know the area, you can miss your stop completely.  The interview I have on Wednesday is in area of the Taunus where I need to catch 2 buses get to.  So today Arne and I did a "dry run"in the car.  It sounds really corny I know.

But when you have to be at an interview at a certain time, and only have a minute to spare to catch your second bus, or you wait 2 hours till the next bus, you don't want to be missing your stop/bus. The area where the school is located is called Schmitten, about 16km from our place.

It's beautiful! The school is surrounded by a forest and lots of hills - well, the Taunus is a mountainous area in general. I'll take some pics on Wednesday when I go again.

For now the bus and train will be my means of transport. If it turns out I really need a car, then we will reconsider. A real plus however - the trains and buses are clean and safe!

After our little dry-run of the bus route, we took a Sunday drive around various areas we might like to live in.  We drove through, Kelkheim (ok), Hofheim am Taunus (saw some nice places there), Hattersheim (not really for us) and saw some more of Bad Soden (where we are now, but quite pricey).  Arne will be spending 4 days a week at his customer based in Russelsheim (South on map) and one day in Eschborn (to the right of Bad Soden on map).

So we figured that somewhere in between would be good.  The houses here are very different from what we are used to back in SA.  There is the "doppelhaus" which is like a townhouse duplex, and there is a freestanding house, also you have a "reihehaus" which are a few duplexes in a row, then there is a two-family house - where you have the top half or bottom half of a big building. Similar to the one we are in now which is a three-family house.
Really nice doppelhaus
Then there are the apartments and flats as we know them.  So all in all we have lot to figure out.  Arne will find out from the bank this week if he will qualify for a mortgage. We've worked out that renting will in the long run be more expensive and a waste of money, so we'd prefer to buy.  Hold thumbs!

We went to our first social get together last night.  Arne's colleague (Christoph)  invited us to his belated birthday party. Guess when his birthday was?... April! :-)  It was nice to meet some new people. His girlfriend is studying to be a high school teacher and currently doing her teaching pracs. I met her friends too, and they are also teachers.  Chistoph didn't want gifts, but asked that people change to a more 'greener'way of living, and you could also bring a salad or cake. His friends decided to be clever and do both. They baked (not sure if you call this baking?) a nuclear power plant.
IT dudes getting creative

We've been here one week already!

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