Sunday, February 10, 2013

Germany — Week 1!!

It is absolutely necessary that you listen to this video while you read. I PROMISE it will tie in later!

I have now been in Germany for 11 days!! Has it really been that long? Have I really been able to survive 11 days in a completely foreign country? How do I even begin to sum up the past 11 days??

Thursday, January 31
After getting about 4 hours of sleep, I got up early and readied myself to get to the airport. I didn't want to take two carry ons and when I realized I couldn't fit my wallet in my backpack and would HAVE to have two carry ons, I broke down. I couldn't do this.
I pulled myself together long enough to drive to the airport, check in, etc. Then my mom hugged me and again, I broke down. I really couldn't do this. I really didn't think I wanted to do this.
But the ticket was nonrefundable. So, I (somewhat reluctantly) climbed aboard a plane bound for Dallas, and then one bound for FRANKFURT.

Friday, February 1
Got off the plane around 8:15 a.m. I was excited. WAS I REALLY IN GERMANY? I was so pumped for all the things ahead of me!
I was told by the senior missionary couple that picked me up that Friday was "Keep Taylor Awake Day." And that's what they did. I went to the office, met everyone, saw a bit of Frankfurt, fought back tears the whole day, that type of thing.
They took me to my apartment in Schöneck Kilianstädten around 4 p.m., at which point I cried. And cried. And cried. I pulled myself together long enough to unpack, go to the store with my landlords' daughter, and see a bit of town. Then I cried again.
I couldn't do this. There was no way in heck I could live by myself for three months in Germany.
After about 34 hours of being awake, I finally hit the hay around 8:30 that night.

Woke up around 10:30 (14 hours of sleep!) and got ready to have lunch with Ralf, my internship supervisor, and his family in Nidderau, the neighboring town.
Ralf and his daughter gave me a tour of the old part of the town, which was really nice. I didn't have my camera with me, so no pictures. But it's exactly how you would picture Europe! So quaint.
Lunch consisted of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes. An authentic German meal! It was good. I was really thankful for Ralf and his family's hospitality.
After they dropped me off, I couldn't figure out how to unlock the door to my house. I twisted the key EVERY direction I could think of. I pushed. I pulled. Nothing. So, again, I cried. I couldn't do this. I couldn't even unlock a door, let alone live in Germany for three months!!
After Ralf and his wife came back and unlocked the door for me (shocking how easy it was for them) and I finished breaking down, I read. I didn't have internet, so that was really my only choice. I read The Great Gatsby. The whole thing.

I went to church in a German ward in Hanau with my landlords. Didn't understand a thing anyone said. But you know what they about how you can feel the Spirit in any language? Well, that's definitely true.
After church, I read some more. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Read it from cover to cover.
I managed not to cry at all on Sunday, which I was pretty darn happy about.

My first official day of work! My cute little landlord walked me to the train station (I surely would have gotten lost had I tried it on my own). Took the train from Schöneck to Frankfurt, and there began my journey toward semi-normality!
I had lots of orientation and training that day. I found out what projects I'll be working on over the next three months, and I'm super pumped! Public affairs work is definitely different than the journalism work I'm used to, but I know I'm going to enjoy my projects. It's so cool that I get to work for the Church for a bit and help further the gospel!
I got INTERNET on Monday evening. I swear, I could have died and gone to heaven at that point. I was SO HAPPY!
In my joy over my new internet connection, I figured out how to call a mobile phone from my Skype account. So I called my momma. Which was good, but also a bad idea. I talked to her and my dad for about half an hour, and I pretty much cried the whole time. 
Sometimes I feel so dang homesick. During my short time here, I've learned what it feels like to miss someone so much it hurts. It's not a feeling I like.

More orientation at work!
For lunch, I went with two of the senior missionary couples to an open air market in Frankfurt and we all got bratwurst for lunch! It was SO SO SO good. Wow. You haven't lived until you've tried an authentic German bratwurst.
Tuesday night marked the first night I could fall asleep prior to midnight. The first sign that I was getting over my jetlag!

More orientation! I never knew there would be SO MUCH to learn when I got here! I guess I shouldn't be surprised though...
After work, I went on my first run in Germany! It was quite nice running around my little village. There's so much to look at and take in! As I walk/run around this place, I can't help but think, "I live here. Do I really live here??"

Last day of orientation!
A few of the people in the office and I took a long lunch and saw a bit of Frankfurt. The old town square, the Zeil (one of Europe's busiest shopping streets), and some churches. It was a really good time. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a dream, because I really can't believe that I live in this big, wonderful city!
Thursday night I went to YSA institute, which was nerve racking at first, but I'm glad I went. I had to leave early to catch a train, so I didn't get to mingle with people after it was over, but I'm really hoping I'll make some amigos from the YSA group!

My absolute favorite day in Germany so far! I went with two of the senior missionary couples for a "cultural day" to Heidelberg and Rothenburg. It was such a fun day! Castles, ancient city walls, quaint houses, cute little shops, forests, old churches, historic places, charming town squares...Everything. Germany is such a beautiful place. And there is such a rich history here. I want to take it all in!
I also had my first wiener schnitzel while we were in Rothenburg! It was really, really good! I have to admit, however, that the french fries that were served with the schnitzel far outdid the main dish. But, nonetheless, I can mark eating authentic wiener schnitzel off my list.
It snowed on and off all day Friday, and it was pretty chilly, but it was a really, really good day! I'm so glad I got invited to partake in "cultural day." Hopefully there are some more in the future! :)
By the time I got home, it was about 9:30, at which point I thought about going for a run, but my tired, blistered feet would have hated me. So I refrained and went to bed instead.

Slept in until 9:45! Sleep is becoming my best friend here in Germany. I'm pretty much over my jetlag, but I always feel tired. Always.
I went into Frankfurt with my friend Amanda (she's American!) that afternoon, and we walked around the Zeil for a bit. That place is incredibly crowded. As we muscled our way through the hoards of people, I realized why I love Wyoming so much. No people.
I was on a mission to find myself a cute, semi-inexpensive purse. If you've ever been shopping in Europe, you know that finding ANYTHING that is "semi-inexpensive" is hard to do. Everything here is so pricey! After walking around for a bit, seeing the Fasching parade (it's karneval in Germany right now! So much fun), and having lunch at a really charming little place I can't remember the name of (I scarfed an entire pizza. Don't judge me.), we FINALLY found a cute purse. A nice little blue one at H&M for only 25 euro. At that point, we were both beat so we hightailed it home!
I went grocery shopping all by myself on Saturday night. Shopping in a foreign country. Always an adventure. I had to carry my 30 pounds of groceries about 2 kilometers (uphill) to my apartment, which was the most miserable 20 minutes of my life. Now I understand why Germans go to the grocery store almost daily.
After I recovered from my treacherous walk home, I ran. I love running here! It's so much more refreshing here than it is in Utah or Wyoming.

I went to the international ward in Frankfurt, which is where I will be attending from now on. They speak English, which is refreshing. You know how sometimes you go to church and feel like you got nothing out of it? Today was NOT one of those days! Sacrament meeting was absolutely wonderful. Sunday school was magnificent. Relief Society was so uplifting. I don't think I've ever come away so nourished from church. I felt like each and every lesson was tailored specifically for my needs this week. It was incredible. I know the Lord is looking down on me.
After church, I had lunch with three of the senior missionary couples (I went to TOWN on those Hawaiian haystacks). They're all American. It's really nice being able to be around them on a daily basis. If it weren't for them, I would have fallen apart long ago.

So, now I'm here. 
Writing this blog post. This blog post that I feel like doesn't even scratch the surface of all the things I've experienced, all the things I've seen, all the things I've felt in my 11 days in Germany.
Things have been really hard here. I don't speak ANY German. I came here completely by myself — no other interns, no other BYU students. Just me. I came here not knowing a single soul. I live in a small village about 30 miles away from Frankfurt, where I know no one and am close to nothing. My landlords don't speak any English. There have been times that I wished I could just go home. There have been times that I wondered why the heck I thought coming to Germany was a good idea. There have been times I felt like the world was caving in around me.

The other day, one of my coworkers looked at me and said, "You know, you've got a lot of grit for coming out here all by yourself."
And it was at that moment that I realized I'm going to be okay. While there have certainly been struggles (and there are certainly more to come), there have been so many good times! 
I have met incredible people who are looking out for me and care about my well-being. I have seen beautiful scenery, beautiful architecture, beautiful people, beautiful things. I get on and off trains everyday that take me all over Frankfurt, and I do it without knowing any German. I get to take part in an incredible work — the Lord's work. I've never felt closer to God than I do now. I know that with Him, I can do anything.

Like George Strait said, "I ain't here for a long time. I'm here for a good time. So bring on the sunshine!"
I have 79 days left here in Germany. And I'm going to make the most of them. I know I have hard times ahead of me, but I know there are also some pretty awesome things ahead of me, too.
"Life's too short to waste it, I say bring on anything!"

Wish me luck!!


  1. Living abroad can be a really difficult adjustment, so I'm glad things are getting better for you! In France I just always had to remind myself (like you said) that I'm not here for a long time so I need to make the most of it. You will have amazing adventures and at the end, you take the good and bad and it's all part of one beautiful experience. Keep running (I regret not exercising abroad, SO MUCH). Sounds like you're getting to do some cool work too. I miss you but I'm so happy you're experiencing Europe! :)

  2. I love it! I feel like I am reliving my adventures. You are brave! You are talented and you are going to do so many wonderful things!! Keep up the positive attitude. Pretty soon you'll be back in a classroom in the Brimhall and your mind will drift back to walking the street of Kilianstedten and all the wonderful people you met in Germany. So proud of you!