Tell us a little about yourself,
Where do you live now and how long have you been there?
We are a Kiwi/Aussie family currently living in Frankfurt, Germany and we’ve been here a little over a year. We have one son living in Sydney going to Uni and one teenage daughter living in Frankfurt with us attending an International School. We moved there after 6 years in Kuala Lumpur so it was a huge change.
What do you love about where you live now?
We love living somewhere with seasons again. The brightness of spring and the colours of autumn. We love being in Europe and being close to so many countries that are easy to visit. We like the history that is everywhere, and we love the Autobahn.
How is it different from your home country?
Germany is far more different than I thought it would be. People are not very open to strangers and don’t freely offer up smiles. But I persevere and constantly smile, say hello to people on the street, and speak to people in the supermarket just like we would in Australia. The food is very different. A lot of potatoes, sausages, and schnitzel is to be expected but chicken is often missing from restaurant menus.
I do like that there’s a lot of seasonal food like asparagus, berries, and collecting mushrooms from the forest in autumn. We are lucky that our neighbours have a walnut tree that drops all its nuts into our garden.
What frustrates you about your host country?
Frustrating things about Germany ….. well, there is their old fashioned reliance on paper. Everything comes to your mailbox – the one on the street. Very little is done online. Bureaucratic fatigue is a real thing in Germany and we were fortunate to have the help of a relocation consultant when we arrived.
Sunday is a day of rest in Germany. Everything is closed. All shops, restaurants, supermarkets, even Ikea. And you cannot make noise. There’s no mowing the lawn on Sunday or doing that little DIY job that requires some drilling or hammering.
And of course, there’s the crazy language where they like to stick several words together to make one enormously long word. We are doing language lessons but it’s a long, long road.
How has the CoronaVirus affected you?
CoronaVirus has thrown our family into a spin. My mother passed away in Australia on 1st March so we were all there for a couple of weeks. My husband went home to Frankfurt but I stayed an extra week with my daughter. Then her international school in Frankfurt closed, flights got cancelled, and places went into lockdown.
Where are you now and where is the rest of your family?
So our daughter and I are now “stuck” here at my mother’s house in coastal NSW, our older son lives in Sydney, and my husband is in Frankfurt with the cat.
We have no idea when we’ll get back to Frankfurt and back to school. Our daughter’s school is very organised and is running all their classes via Zoom but because of the time difference, she has been “attending” classes until 1.00 am. My husband is able to work from home.
Are you in self-isolation, lockdown or are you social distancing and what rules do you need to follow?
We are all self-isolating. Luckily both Germany and Australia have rules which say you can go outside for exercise as long as you’re from the same family or not more than two people, as well as go to the supermarket, and other essential outings – staying 1.5m away from other people.
In NSW we are lucky enough to be able to walk on the nearby beach which has plenty of room to stay 1.5m away from other people. We cannot travel to Sydney as unnecessary travel has been banned.
What do you find the hardest about your situation right now?
he hardest thing right now is not knowing how long it will be before we can return to Frankfurt to be together again. I have a lot of things to sort out in my mother’s house which is keeping me busy. We didn’t expect to be here very long so we only have a week’s worth of summer clothing with us.
Do you have any tips for anyone in lockdown or self-isolation?
My first tip for others in lockdown or self-isolation is- look right to the back of your pantry because who knows what you’ll find there. Maybe you’ll even remember why you bought that item. Hopefully, it’s not past its use-by date. Also, be kind to people.
We have ended up in a small town where we don’t know anyone except immediate neighbours so it really means a lot to me when I walk along the street or beach and people smile, wave, and say hello (at a distance of 1.5m). A lot of people have ended up apart from their families and in places that are not really home so try to make everyone welcome.
What are you doing differently now compared to a few months ago?
What am I doing differently now – well I’m on the other side of the world wearing shorts and singlet tops having escaped the end of winter in Germany.
I’m catching up via messaging and video calls with friends over here now we’re in the same time zone. I miss my newly made friends in Germany and the things I’d started to become involved with there. I spend a lot more time washing my hands. And I miss my mum.
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