Early Expat Life

Almost five months ago I said goodbye to my life in Chicago and moved to Stuttgart, Germany. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my life has changed and what I’ve accomplished in the last several months. So, I thought I might share a bit of my “everyday” life here. Of course there’s been a bit of travel and lots of dining out and exploring and learning, but my life isn’t nearly as glamorous as it may look!

I’m really happy to report that I’ve completed my first 4 weeks of German language school at the Anglo-German Institute (AGI). (My classes take place at the Ulrich-Walter Schule on Calwerstraße downtown, as pictured below.) It’s hard. Really HARD. Before I moved here I talked to people in the U.S. and told them that I’d be learning German and I’d hear one of two things in response: “Oh, German’s easy!” or “Good luck. German’s a tough language.” Well, I can confirm that the latter is true for me. Perhaps it’s that I’ve never been good at learning foreign languages, or that I haven’t been in school for so many years and my brain is out of practice, or maybe German is just a tough language. My next 4-week course begins at the end of November and in the meantime I’m spending time studying and making flash cards. The upside to school is that I met some nice people in my class — Mirela from Romania, Simona from Italy, Sama from Iran, Tessa from New Zealand, and Louie from England.

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Outside of school, my friend Sabine gifted me 10 weeks of beginner’s yoga just down the street (one U-Bahn stop) from my apartment at Yoga Vidya. This is my first-ever attempt at yoga and I’m loving it so far. The class is in German (not English), but I don’t mind at all. My teacher speaks English and she’s really helpful with me, and I do a lot of looking around to see what I should be doing. 🙂 It’s the highlight of my week and does a body and soul good. When we were in München a couple of weeks ago I bought a yoga mat and belt and now I’m on the lookout for good beginner yoga YouTube channels to help me at home — recommendations welcome!

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I can’t talk about my life here without mentioning my favorite little store around the corner, Feinkost Panzer in Stuttgart West at Arndtstraße 38.

(In case you’re wondering, that strange looking “B” symbol loosely translates to “ss.” For example, “street” is “strasse” or “straße.” -See! I’m learning!)

Frau Panzer, the woman who owns and operates the store, is an absolute gem. I first met her over a year ago when visiting Robert last summer. She speaks English, she carries the best products, gifts, veggies, and fruit, and she makes great sandwiches and soups. I’ve always dreamed of having a “shop around the corner” and now I have this special place! She sells all types of fresh fruits and veggies, juice, milk, cheese, sliced meat, dried pasta, chocolate, cookies and sweets, gifts and specialties from this region of Germany, wine, gin, and the list goes on and on and on. It really is a special place run by a special woman. I’m so happy to have this place (and woman!) in my life.

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Finally, here is a picture of the U-Bahn train, which I take to get most everywhere in Stuttgart. It’s like a breath of fresh air — clean, quiet, fast, and reliable, unlike the transit system in Chicago! Also, a photo of Robert’s Vespa (I’m still nervous and excited every time I get on!) and a picture of our street, Seyfferstraße.

Outside of all of this (school, yoga, travel, time with Robert) my life is pretty uneventful. I do a lot of laundry, a lot of cleaning, and A LOT of recycling. But, the reality is that — despite some stress and a few panic attacks — I am really happy here. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment, for sure, but my husband (so grateful for him) and the Germans (despite any negative stereotypes) have made my life joyful and meaningful. I look forward to the months and years ahead.

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