Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Frohe Weihnachten! Last Post

Top 5 Differences we have noticed between Germany and the States (aside from the language, public transportation system, and family size):
5.  The trash separating system.  Surely there are tremendous environmental advantages to this method of disposal.

4.  Hausschuhe.  In Germany, no one wears their outdoor shoes indoors.  They have hausschuhe, a sturdy form of slipper that they wear around the house.  But not just that, school children have a pair of hausschuhe in their cubbies to change into.  Some places even have "guest hausschuhe" for people to borrow while they are indoors.

3.  Healthy Lifestyle.  Rachel has been waiting all semester to make the joke, "French Women Don't Get Fat, But German Women Do", but it is just not true.  Even with the amazing pork products, dark yeasty beers and the rich chocolates, the German people are fit.  In our experience there is just a lot of walking and bike riding as normal transport for a distance that in America we would drive in a car.

2.  No Wal-Marts.  For better or for worse, this is the fact and that is all there is to be said about that.

1.  Advent done right.  The Germans did not invent the season of Advent, but you may think so if you visit during that time.  The four weeks before Christmas is celebrated in joyful anticipation with the markets set up in countless town squares all over the country.  There is music to warm your heart, firepits to warm your hands, and gluhwein to warm your soul.

Reflections on our four months in Germany:

Edy- "I really liked my school and I hope I see my friends again."  Her favorite event was Oktoberfest because there were so many rides and she got a dirndl.  Edy's favorite German food was spaetzl and in Eichstätt her favorite place was her school.

Max-"I loved my school and I loved the boy that really likes me with glasses on."  Max's favorite trip was to Legoland Discovery Center in Berlin because of the racing and the playground that you can jump on.  His favorite food was the breakfast cereal "Schoko Musli" and his favorite place in Eichstätt was the playground at the University with "the digger".

Lucy's happiest moments were on train trips.  She loved walking from one train car to another and watching the German countryside passing by.  While she may not have clear memories of  Germany as she grows, she definitely benefited from the nurturing creative environment her little Kinderhaus pre-school program.

Rachel- "I am certain that our semester in Germany will always be a glowing happy memory for me."  She loved the challenges and was enormously satisfied at the outcome.  While she may have had some anxiety for her children in German schools at the outset, that only made her joy at their success greater!  As to her reaction for possibly coming back to Germany for longer?  "Bring it on!"

Phil-  "To me Munich remains magical.  I'm so happy I got to spend so much time there."  His favorite place in Eichstätt was the University library and the kneipanlage (wading section of the river)...when kids aren't falling in!  On the one hand Phil is sorry to stop his research in Eichstätt, but he also feels that he accomplished everything he set out to do.

Edy reunited with some American friends

Lucy reunited with her dress up clothes

Libby's first Christmas

At Grandma and Grnadpa's

The cabin had a jacuzzi

Libby gets some Aunt Sarah time

Newlyweds home for the holidays

Edy and Libby auf der loft

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bitter Sweet Tschüss

Sunday was made so smooth and easy with the help of a few good friends we have made this semester.  One couple was going to Munich on Saturday so helped by taking all our checked luggage in their car to our hotel near the airport.  Another family helped by driving us and our carry on baggage to the train station.  Not to mention filling our bags with presents, games, books and cookies for our journey home.  Plus they also helped us clean the apartment! 

After waving goodbye at the train station we had a seamless trip to Munich.  Philip knew right where the lockers were at the train station and we had a very fun last day of sight seeing before our flight home.  Munich is definitely Phil's favorite German city and it is easy to understand why.  We saw the outdoor ice rink, the Christkindlemarkt, and the toy museum.  The highlight for Rachel was St. Peter's church.  There is a tower of about 13 or 14 flights of narrow wooden spiral stairs leading to the bell tower.  The view was very nice.  Edy and Rachel saw all of Munich from each of the four side of the tower.  Phil, meanwhile, warmed up with the three little ones in the main part of the church.  

We stayed overnight at a hotel near the airport and all got a good night of rest that we would need for a long day of traveling the very next day.

We will miss Eichstätt, the beautiful little medieval city on a hill, its history, architecture, the University library, the Volkschule Am Graben, Kindergarten St. Walburg, the churches, but mostly we will miss the friends we made there!
Munich Toy Museum, "Martians"

Toy Mass Set

Toy Museum

The Munich Airport McDonalds

Edy in the St Peter's Tower

Statue of Baby Jesus charming his Mama and Grandma

Lucy inspired by Barbie


Photo by Edy from the tower

                                                    Herr Harold und Heir

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Day of Schule

The children all enjoyed their last day of school in Germany and each came home with treasures.  Lucy had made a bright green sparkly conicular Christmas tree and received colorful set of modeling clay.  Max presented us with a clay luminary that he had made the holes in.  His teachers gave him a big magnifying glass.  Edy had a large poster from her class that everyone signed.  She also brought home many, many expensive unused school supplies that will add to the weight of our checked luggage.

Last night Philip attended the Christmas Party of the staff at the office he has been sharing.  It was hosted at a German bowling alley.  The bowling ball was smaller, but otherwise the rules were the same.  Phil had a lot of fun.  All in all, with the bowling party last night and the children today we have for sure ended on a high note with our Eichstätt life here!

The staff at Phil's office

Phil got two strikes

We've had 8 more inches of snow...at least!

A snowy shortcut to school

Lucy was literally jumping for joy at her last day!

Max being silly in a swim cap

Max with his Kindergarten teacher

Edy with the afterschool program teacher

some of the afterschool kids
Phil pulling Max to school on the toboggan

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Snowy Pigrimage

Philip found himself with a free afternoon yesterday and was determined to visit a Church that is on the mountain on the other side of the Alt Mülh River, at a higher elevation than the castle which we visited in October with Mom and Dad Harold. 

The path was steep and snowy and his vision a little impaired by the falling snow.  He wasn't quite sure he was even going the right way, but finally saw the little Frauenberg Kapella in a clump of trees.  The hard work of the hike was worth it, and now that we have 4 days left, there is little left of Eichstätt that we haven't seen! 

Downtown Eichstaett

The Rathaus in Marktplatz

Max's Kindergarten, view of inside the convent walls

Max's Kindergarten
Phil in front of building where his office is
Lucy making friends with Phil's conversation partner

Kindergarten St. Walburg