It’s been a week since we have landed and it feels like a lot has happened and at the same time there is so much more to do. Over the last week I have felt every emotion and vacillated between being overjoyed to be here in this charming city and horrified that we left gorgeous Sydney just to have to get settled all over again. The kids did amazing on the flights out here, much better than we could have asked for but after 20+ hours of flying time we arrived on Saturday half awake and with our only goal getting into the apartment. We are in temporary housing for the first 60 days so the drive into the city was more than a little suspenseful as we waiting to see where we would be living for the next couple of months. Luckily the apartment is modern and has everything we need to get by until our things get here. Sunday we did take the opportunity to be tourists in our new home town and took the U-bahn into Marienplatz where we watched the Rathaus-Glockenspeil, drank beers at Augustiner with lunch and then spent the afternoon at Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest was much different than I anticipated. Everyone was dressed in their lederhosen and the place was packed. I had always seen pictures of the beer tents which there are plenty of but the outside was like a giant fair with rides, food, and more things to look at then we could have taken in. It was a family event with horses pulling the barrels of beer and gingerbread necklaces by the hundreds. The mood was festive to say the least, beer is only sold by the litre there, it was a great atmosphere and a lot of fun but we were still all a bit jet lagged and by the afternoon everyone was ready to come back to the apartment and relax. I think we will get the true Oktoberfest experience next year.
This week has been primarily focused on getting the kids into school. The thing about moving to a new country is that everything is just a bit more complicated then it is back home and takes just a bit longer to accomplish. I have gotten lucky and our apartment is within walking distance of a huge store, it’s like an Asda so not a glamorous shopping experience but it has 3 level and everything from basic homewares to groceries. As someone who arrived in Germany with 3 full school supply lists in a combination of german and english the store was a godsend. Patrick and I ended up spending 2 hours there one day figuring out the supply lists, getting groceries and then carting it all back to our place. On Tuesday we took a tour of the school and left in a daze 3 hours later. When we arrived we split into two groups me with the little kids touring the primary school and Jamie went with Patrick to do the high school tour. This is our first time attending a private school let alone an international school. It was a totally overwhelming experience for Jamie and I as well as the kids. We toured the campus, were introduced to teachers and advisors, everyone knew our names and welcomed the kids. Patrick and Jamie were taken to meet the dean as well as start the conversations with the university admissions advisor on what options Patrick has. We stumbled out of there very impressed and in need of some lunch. It seems like the amount of resources the kids will have will be outstanding. Having grown up attending my local public school with all the kids from the same neighbourhood it was very different to see the class list in Kellen’s room with the flags showing what country each student is originally from. There were two other US flags on the list along with Germany, Japan, Israel, and a few that I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t sure where they were from. The kids are going to have a truly different experience here then they have had in the past. Patrick had his first day on Thursday and it went so well. He said that the kids were super welcoming and most of them have lived multiple different places so after the initial ‘where are you from?’ it was not a big deal and a series of 20 questions. The little kids will start tomorrow and I think I’m more nervous then they are.
The one negative over the last week has been the distance from the apartment to the school. With it being Oktoberfest we were told that options for any type of housing were extremely limited and while our apartment is great the area is less than ideal. It isn’t a bad area but it is in the southern part of Munich and the school is north of the city. We knew the school was north when we enrolled and we plan on living north of central Munich. The school is also opening a new primary campus in the city, almost in our target neighbourhood, so in a matter of months this will be a non issue. But for now it takes an hour to get to school. That means for me to drive them too and from school it would be 4 hours on the road each day. The school has it’s own transportation system, for a cost, that will pick up the kids and drop them off each day. Most families live in the city so use the school bus to get their kids back and forth and the school suggested we do the same. They were able to find a route with room for the kids but it would require a 7:30am pick up and a 5:30pm drop off since we are so far. The school day goes from 9:00 to 4:00 with a 2:30 dismissal on Fridays. So for Ella she would be going from 2 days a week of preschool to not only 5 days a week of pre-K at her new school but then a 7:30 – 5:30 day. It just seems crazy. So in talking with them they suggested maybe the bus takes them one way and I take them the other. So we have decided they will take the school bus in the morning and then I will pick the 3 of them up after school. It will still be long days for the babies but we just need to make it work for the next two months and then things should fall into place both with an apartment further north and the city campus opening. this has been my biggest source of worry, just how they will cope with the new schedule.
After a week of errands, opening bank accounts, buying school supplies, driving too and from the new school we decided to go for a day trip on Saturday. We spent the day out in Innsbruck, walking through town, having lunch, going to the top of the tower. I’m not sure if it is due to it being a holiday or if we just had terrible luck but our 2 hour drive each way was more than doubled due to accidents and road closures but in the process we got to take in the foothills of the Alps and the villages as we went. The leaves are starting to turn, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and I can already picture myself coming back during ski season. It was a good reminder to look up from the slog of settling in and enjoy getting to live in a new part of the world.