Thursday, September 16, 2010

Erstens nur ein kleinen Schritt nach ein anderen meinen Leben und auch in diesem Blog.  Mein Ziel und Hoffnung ist durch dieses Blog meinen Deutsch zu verbessern und euch meinen Alltag hier in Philadelphia mitzuteilen.  Das heißt, wenn ich ein Fehler mache, möchte ich es wissen.  Wenn ihr fragen habt oder was genaues über mein Leben hier wissen möchtet, frag mir einfach dass ich schreiben kann was euch interessiert.  ;)  Leider bin ich hier nicht daran gewöhnt mit meinen Kamera rumzulaufen und Fotos zu machen, aber ich versuche vielleicht mit mein Handy ein paar Bilder zu machen dass ihr ein kleines Geschmäck Philadelphia (aber nicht der Käse, haha) haben dürft.

Also, gibt es eigentlich irgendwas neues bei mir?  Auf Jedenfall.  Alles ist gleichzeitig neue und alt, gewöhnlich und fremd, leicht und schwierig.  Einige sehr liebe und nette Freundinnen hier haben mit mir Zeit verbracht, geredet, gelacht, und mir getröstet.  Ich bin Gott sehr dankbar dass er diese bestimmten Leute mir gegeben hat.  Sie machen die schweren Tagen leichter und die guten Tagen besser.  Ich wünsche auch dass ich für sie auch da sein kann wenn sie Jemand brauchen, dass mein Leben in dem folgenden Monaten nicht nur um mich geht.

Bei der Café wo ich damals schaffte, darf ich ein paar Tage im September arbeiten um ein bisschen Geld zu verdienen, aber ich suche immer noch nach eine Stelle wo ich bis Januar arbeiten darf.  Ein Zimmer in einem Haus ist schon da wo ich einziehen darf, aber ich muss es erst irgendwie finanzieren.  :)

In nur 8 Tage geht's nach Texas, und ich freue mich schon auf meine Familie und Freunde und auf das leckere Essen.  ;)  Ich wünsche euch alle ein gutes Einsteig nach dem Urlaub wieder in der Arbeit, dem nächsten Schuljahr, oder einfach im Leben egal was vor euch steht.  Gottes Segen und Freude.

Monday, August 30, 2010

the end is near..., not of the world, but of my world as I have known it for the last year.  I am sitting at my desk, with a bare room around me (having already packed?! who is this person who actually packs in advance?  No worries, I will probably still pack all my clothes at the last minute.)  Yesterday was my last day of "vacation", which was brought to a good end with a weekend on the lake with my best friends here, who have been with me since the beginning.  Now I have one more week of work, and then I fly up and away and across the ocean.  My heart is tearing a bit at the seams, it is so full.  I feel like there is a death-match going on inside between all the conflicting emotions.  On the one side, I am so thankful for this time here, and cannot describe how blessed I have been by the friends who have welcomed me in.  At the same time, I cannot put into words how much I will miss them and yearn for their company again - oh, yeah, the sadness emotion just gave my other emotions a ringer, time to go to the corners and regroup - and...back at it again.  As I was saying, the amazing friends here make it extremely hard to leave, even when I know I will come and see them again.  On top of all that, I must say goodbye to the two little girls who have worked their way into my heart.  Despite long days that tried my patience, I treasure the time I have had with them, getting to know them, learning to love them, and teaching them new things.  That goodbye will probably be one of the hardest I have ever had to make.
Then on the other side, the excitement at seeing my dear friends in Philly again, the joy of being with family, and the adventure of starting something new keeps me going and striving towards the next thing.  Through this whole process, I have learned to take it one step at a time - not rushing too far ahead, and also not trying to hang on to what is in the past.  One thing that I have always struggled with - putting myself out there and looking for jobs, and most of all, being persistent in that search - has been a huge place of growth.  I have applied to more jobs than I can count - in both German and English - and stayed on top of the whole process, even when it felt like nothing was happening.  I am still keeping my eyes forward, even as plans shift and my future is uncertain.  I am hoping to be in Philadelphia until the new year, but as I now know, that plan could also change.  I pray, and ask for your prayers as well, that I would simply stay as close as possible to God's side, walking step-in-step, and not straying out of His presence, because that is also where I will find the strength and comfort to keep going on.

And now, I will say thank you, for all who have kept in touch and cared to see what my life here has been all about.  I appreciate all the words of encouragement and the questions that showed your interest in my life here in this world.  I hope to also return that encouragement and interest, and stay invested in these new friendships that I have begun here, as well as those which I already have and want to stay involved in.  May God's blessings follow you in every day, and His mercy refresh you each morning.  Peace.

Friday, July 30, 2010

if this were a choose-your-own-adventure story...

...then these might be some of your options:

Adventure #1:  Bethany finds a job in Germany that begins just one month after she leaves.  The next few weeks are consumed with packing and finding a new place to live, as well as getting the process to acquire an "Arbeitsvisum" started.  Much running back and forth and professional discussions and filling out of forms ensues.  When the time to fly back to the States arrives, she basically goes straight from packing and planning to the airport to jump on the plane.  The next four weeks are a whirlwind of visiting friends in Philly and Texas, taking care of matters on the Stateside, packing once again, and preparing for another move across the ocean.  Once the time finally arrives, she stretches her wings again and takes flight, hoping that the next six-month-long or year-long position turns into something permanent.

Adventure #2:  Bethany does not find a job in Germany before she leaves, and therefore must wrap things up here, pack things up, and move a bit more of her life back to the States.  Applications are being continually sent out, and plans are made to return in the winter, before the next hiring cycle begins in February.  A secondary search is begun for a part-time job in the States, to earn some money that can be used to survive for the first three months on a tourist visa in Germany, if need be, before a job starts.  German conversation groups will be sought out, and many hours spent on Skype catching up with friends here and keeping the language in use.  After the holidays, she packs up again and takes off for the next determined push to find a job here that utilizes both her fashion skills and her growing language capacity.

Adventure #3:  Bethany does not find a job in Germany, and instead begins looking at school options, because coming as a student is much easier than finding a job.  After researching some schools and what she might be interested in, she begins the process of filling out applications, while at the same time looking for a job in the States to begin funding the school adventure.  The general direction is language, as her Italian could also use a little brushing up, and there are new languages to be learned.  Besides, if working as a fashion designer in Germany doesn't work out, there are countries nearby that might also be of interest.  Most of all, school would buy her time to complete an internship in Germany, which would be very valuable to put on the resumé.

Adventure #4: There is no telling what will happen, and you will just have to wait and find out...

Take your pick.  Fortunately, there is a better Storyteller than I writing the plot, and knowing that He loves His characters and already has the end in mind, I will trust that however suspenseful this next chapter is, it will culminate in a much more exciting ending than I could ever come up with.

Here is a final update and apology:  I took a five day trip and visited two countries - Austria and Slovenia - and only have one picture to show for it.  Yes, world-traveler-Bethany forgot her camera, and to be honest, really did not regret it too much, as I was too busy spending time with friends and experiencing life there to stop and take many photos.  There were some pictures taken during a rappelling and cliff-jumping adventure, but I don't have access to them at the moment, so you will just have to wait a while before seeing pictures of some beautiful Slovenian scenery and yours truly jumping off of rock ledges into crystal clear pools of water.  Instead, I will leave you with my one photo, chronicling my journey to Vienna on what I dubbed "The Hungarian Express" - a bit misleading - it was definitely Hungarian, but not so "express".  :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

celebrating goals: in life, and in soccer

Summer is heeeeere!  For all of you who have been keeping up with me for a while, you know how long I have waited for summer to come, and also how much I love being in the sun.  One of my goals every summer is to turn a nice healthy shade of brown - not Mexican, I'll leave that to the experts (like my sister-in-law, wink wink), but enough to feel comfortable in the sun and not get burned after 2-3 hours outside.  We have had plenty of warm days to be able to go to the pool or just let the kids loose in the yard with a sprinkler.  It still is nothing like a Texas summer, for which I am thankful, as we don't have the air conditioning here with which to handle such steaming hot temperatures.

However, Saturday was an exception to the rule, and as the temperature climbed into the mid-90s, I began to wish for spring again.  But that was only because on Saturday, I didn't have the possibility of cooling myself off at the pool - instead I was in a hot, stuffy classroom in Stuttgart, taking the Goethe Institute German proficiency exam which is the culmination of the last two years of hard work.  I don't know what the normal time allotment is to go from zero German knowledge to a business level ability, but learning so much in two years has stretched and challenged me in many ways.  But, as you all know by now (I hope), I do LOVE a good challenge.  ;-)  After a lot of stress and worry that built up as my day of reckoning with the German language grew nearer, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders when the exam was done.  Overall, I feel confident in how I did - it was by no means perfect, and I could think back over the mistakes I made - but there is no help in that.  I finished.  I believe I passed.  In 6-8 weeks, I will receive the results and let you know how it really went.

As soon as I finished my exam, I literally ran out the door to catch the first train over to the church where I was spending the rest of my evening watching the second half of the Germany vs. Argentina game, giving God thanks for taking me this far at the youth service that night, and diving into a new experience with the prayer night from midnight till 6am.  Watching that game was crazy - feeling so much a part of the experience (even more so than when I was in Italy four years ago), and cheering alongside the Germans who were able to see their young team pull off a victory that others (ahem, France, Italy, Brazil) had not been able to achieve.  The rest of the evening was spent celebrating and enjoying the company of others as we all met for a common purpose - not the joy of a soccer game, but the joy of a God who is with us, who is mightier than our struggles, and who rejoices over us.

With a few goals reached and others standing before me, I am forging ahead on this next path.  My time is filled with job searching and sending out new applications.  The time here is slipping past, and I am looking forward to the upcoming vacation when I can savor some time with friends before I make the trek back across the ocean for a little catching-up time.  I still have places to visit and people to see - Vienna, Switzerland, and for some local fun, Bodensee.  Now I leave you with some long-awaited (by me, at least) pictures from my parent's trip here at the end of April.  (sorry, all I have is a link - couldn't get a nice picture to show up this time.)  They even have captions, so that you can follow along.  :)  I love how nicely organized they are.  Enjoy, and till next time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

world cup, grill parties, and staying in shape

Summer is in full swing, despite the deceivingly cool weather we still have from time to time.  We have enjoyed our local swimming pools, I have soaked up as many rays of sun as possible, and most of all - it is world cup time!  I have seen a few different games played - every Germany game, of course, and a couple of the US games, including the last one tonight, where they lost to Ghana and ended their run in the tournament.  Sigh.  Watching the games is always interesting, as everyone gets excited, even if it isn't your country playing.  The entire mood during the World Cup is full of excitement - it is not limited to one city or one state - it envelops the entire country.

Part of watching the world cup includes the grill parties that go along with them.  It is becoming quite normal to see a little round grill set up with sausages sitting on top, turning a nice crispy brown.  Even here I feel the irresistible urge to be near the grill, to work with the fire, and turn the meat.  :)  Simply feels like home, when I get to do that.  The best sort of grill parties are the ones up in the hills around Stuttgart, surrounded by vineyards, sitting on the grass in the shade or tossing a frisbee with friends.

Since March, when the weather finally let up from snowing every week, I have been back on the road, jogging through the fields and vineyards near our house.  In May, I saw a poster for a 10K here in Waiblingen, and since I haven't done a race since the 10-mile race in Philly a year ago, I decided to join in.  Good thing I did, and trained a bit for it too, because it paid off.  In a relatively small field of competition, I was able to come in 8th place for women overall (122nd from the whole group), and 2nd place in my age group (20-30).  It felt so good to compete wholeheartedly at something, and win for the first time as well.  Around the same time, I began playing soccer with a few friends on Friday evenings.  This is an area where victory often eludes me - I think I have hurt myself as much running alone with the soccer ball as when I am engaged in play with another person.  :)

Besides these things, I have been also occupied with the family a lot.  Summer also means more parties and events that they want to go to together, or for example, a trip to the grandparents that we made by train last week.  Let me just say, surviving seven hours in a train with two children under the age of 4 is quite a feat indeed - and we did it twice.  For me, it was lovely to see a new city (Potsdam, a little outside of Berlin) and get out alone on the bicycle and explore.  We got to spend some good time together as well, and I was thankful for that, as the time is flying by.  I am preparing for my German language exam, writing cover letters and getting ready to apply for jobs.  My summer travels are being planned, and my time post-au-pair is also starting to be roughly planned out.  Things are moving and shaking, and I'm just trying to keep my balance in the midst of it.  I look forward to what is coming next.

Friday, May 14, 2010

hours filled with work, play, and life

During the past few weeks, life has followed a fairly steady routine, which has also been pleasantly interrupted by special events.  As April moved along, the sun warmed up the plants and the air, and everything bloomed into fullness in thankfulness.  I joined in by spending all my spare moments in the outdoors, whether during lunch, while I studied more German grammar, or sat on a bench watching the girls play on the playground.  Each day after picking the girls up from kindergarten, we would almost always immediately go back outside, riding bikes or bobbycars, dancing in the newly green grass, or building a sand tower.

At the end of April came two important things:  first, there is the day that I add another year onto my age, and second, I had special guests to spend that day with me.  My parents flew across several states and an ocean and part of Europe to spend just six short days living life with me in Germany.  We had a wonderful time exploring my corner of Germany, taking some new adventures that I hadn't even experienced yet, and getting to know the people who surround me here and make life here as good as it is.  There will be pictures coming soon, from their cameras, as I spent most of my time just seeing things anew, from their perspective.

After my parents left, I was left here with the children and their grandparents, because their parents also took a vacation.  For ten days, we also formed a routine, as I woke up first in the morning to get the girls up, dressed, and ready for kindergarten, found some sort of entertainment for the rainy days, and all took turns putting them to bed.  We had a lovely time together, and I am very thankful for having a warm lunch for a week and half (which I am sometimes too lazy to make just for myself), and for the care that they provided for the girls as well, allowing me to still go out and enjoy myself.

A week ago, I had planned to have my friends over for a belated birthday celebration, and to grill and hang out outside and enjoy the spring weather.  Well, the weather has played a cruel joke, and the last two weeks have been like being in March again, which for us means rainy, gray, and cold.  There was even snow last week in the Black Forest.  Ridiculous.  This called for a change of plans, therefore I made a huge batch of curry, a giant pot of rice, and fed the steady stream of friends who came over.  We ate and talked and laughed and then played the biggest, rowdiest, most hilarious game of UNO you could ever see.  My friends here have an extra list of rules that they play with, which includes drawing a card if you ask a question, so our phrasing becomes quite creative.

The other details of life at the moment include searching for jobs, working on my resumé, filing forms and making copies.  My next huge step is a German proficiency test in July, which I will continue studying and preparing for during the following month and a half.  I am encouraged by the feedback I have received from those I talk to here, but I also know that I have far to go.  Good thing I have always loved a challenge.  Now I must rest, and enjoy the vacation my body has forced upon me, when it woke up sick this morning.  Life, in all its normalcy, goes on here as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pause, rewind,!

I lied.  I definitely did NOT post as much in February, and then not at all in March.  Well.  That is how life goes sometimes.  Now you just get one huge post bursting with photos and stories and who knows what else.

(Quick side note - I realized that when I said "rewind", I was thinking of a cassette tape.  OLD SCHOOL)

My month of February finished in a whirlwind of trying to figure out a new German class (skipping two levels ahead of where I was!), getting ready for a friend to visit, and praying for winter to finally end.  We enjoyed a couple weeks of warmer weather, and then just as Jamie arrived, winter hit again in full force.  We froze in Salzburg, but braved the weather to see the city and go on the oh-so-touristy but once-in-a-lifetime experience of the Sound of Music Tour.

Snowy "Spring" Reunion

After our time together, I had one weekend here at home alone, while the family was away to celebrate the grandmother's birthday.  It was a VERY quiet, relaxing time, but of course, as I always do when I have free time...I fill it up!  Cause that is what is for, right?  ;-)  So I hung out with friends a lot, and got to know some of my new classmates a little better as well.  As the weather warmed up again, the girls and I spent more time outdoors.  Carlina started demonstrating how fast she could ride her bike, and I tried to teach her how to use the brakes.  As Easter approached, the family prepared for their vacation, and I made plans with Marisa to make our Paris and Berlin tour.

Spring in Paris

I suppose I have always been a little bit cynical about Paris, simply because I have heard so many people go on and on about it.  I wasn't expecting anything that special, but I couldn't help it...I absolutely fell in love with Paris.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, and then had a relaxing visit to Berlin, and then enjoyed the sunny weather here back at home in Waiblingen.  After delivering her to the airport, I continued on to a retreat with my church over Easter weekend.  It was wonderful to take some time away, relax, enjoy time with friends, and focus on the meaning of that weekend, from the quiet, meditation of Good Friday, to the rejoicing of Easter Sunday.

Now we have entered April, and spring finally is here indeed.  The weather continues to waver between warm and cool, but the flowers and trees all heartily declare that the new season has begun.  My favorite part is the Forsythia - these have always been one of my favorite plants to see blooming in Texas, and I was delighted to find them here as well, throwing bright splashes of yellow across the gray and green landscape.  (Thus, the new blog color scheme as well.)  We took a trip to the zoo, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different animals.  Check it out here:

That wraps it all up for now.  Time for me to get to work, study some German, and put together an updated resume.  More to come soon.