Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Month Later... Reflection

We've officially been home for a month. I meant to blog on Friday, the official month anniversary, but I was busy... and now I've finally found some time.

Here is what I wrote for the final reflection on the last day of our Germany --> USA travel:

Montag 15.03.2010 (day 182)
This is our last consecutive blog entry in this whirlwind of an adventure. I can’t imagine if we would’ve stayed an entire year! The journal I’ve been keeping would’ve been 208 pages instead! We woke up at our Frankfurt hotel at 6:15 (It was a mere 12:15 a.m. Chicago time) and loaded into the shuttle that took us to the terminal. Our hotel was supposed to be less than 4 km to the airport, but honestly, it felt like 15 km instead. We arrived and got to work weighing our bags on an open machine and displacing items. We were definitely overweight in a couple of our bags and we managed to check 4 bags at 23 km each (exact allowance). We threw nothing away and had the maximum for carry-ons as well. We got in line for Lufthansa and we noticed a bag unattended as we were proceeding in the line. About 5 minutes later, we saw our entire line of people in front of us rushing to another area and evacuating our entire line! We quickly followed suit assuming the people knew more than we did. The German security officers immediately taped off the entire region and refused to let anyone else by. We assumed one of two things: some diplomat was coming through, or there was an unattended bag that could present a health risk to others (i.e. in the form of a bomb). We joked because when we walked by, Ray put his ear to the bag to see if it were ticking. No ticking. We watched our line grow enormously long, the bomb squad officer come in and x-ray, then a sniffing dog, and finally… the terminal area was reopened. We checked our baggage with no problems and went through security. It wouldn’t be a Wilson experience if one of us didn’t have something searched in the process! Ray had two ballpoint pens we got in Switzerland (well made, fully metal) and apparently they collectively looked suspicious. We carried on and sat in the Lufthansa terminal for our Swiss Air flight that was delayed. We were nervous that the delay would mean we’d miss our flight in Zurich to Chicago. Until our flight, we enjoyed the free hot beverage service in this particular terminal. After hot chocolates a tea and a mocha, we were well hydrated before our first flight. We got on the plane and were positioned nicely next to a fat guy. Luckily, that flight was only 30 minutes. In Zurich, they dropped us off in the complete opposite terminal and we had to bolt to the shuttle train to our terminal and arrived with a line that checked each passport. We also had to go through security again (though we went from gate to gate) and this time, I was checked. I have a small pair of scissors in my toiletries and they made sure to measure that. We walked on the plane as we heard them making a final call for the Chicago flight. Another Swiss Air flight and this one was a new Airbus with really nice entertainment on the flight. Of course, I sat in the middle next to fat guy #2. I hate to be too stereotypical, but I am personally a small person paying the same amount for the flight of another person who takes up more than their share. I especially didn’t appreciate nearly getting elbowed in the face (I had to duck at times—it was that bad) or the guy complaining a lot to the flight attendants about the food choices, then getting another dish after eating the first one! For what it’s worth, the few words we did speak were good. He seemed intelligent and friendly. Though, I sure wish he would’ve been sitting somewhere other than right next to me. I’d say I win brownie points for sitting for 9 hours next to a guy who I had to lean away from in order to avoid arm hair contact. Ew. I’m pretty sure I saw him pick his nose and wipe his boogers on the tray table. Let this be a lesson to us all: sanitize! The flight food was good, but there just wasn’t enough of it! We’ve always eaten well on Swiss Air. I watched 3 movies on the flight. Ray watched two of them with me. We saw Up in the Air, Couples Retreat, and Amelia (based on the Amelia story). I watched Amelia solo and was disappointed to learn that she cheated on her husband. Unfortunately, all 3 of the movies addressed that issue in some form. Couples Retreat was the best of all and there were some legitimately hilarious parts where I was crying and couldn’t control my laughter. Movies sure make a very long flight go by much quicker. Oh, and perhaps one of the highlights of the plane ride: a Jewish kid in front of us had a Yakima that was embroidered with “Red Hot Chili Peppers” in bold and this yellow threading. Is that sacrilegious? Maybe not, but either way, it was unique. We went through customs, waited for our baggage at baggage claim, and called our limo service at O’Hare after our arrival at about 5pm CST (11 pm Germany). We had a really nice driver who took us a better way than any of our previous drivers had done before. We arrived at Mike’s condo, popped a frozen pizza in the oven and talked on the phone with family and friends for much of the evening. We threw on a little American television, opened the mail that was in the mailbox waiting for us, and answered our emails—still in shock that we’re actually here to stay. This isn’t a visit. This is real life and it’s our new home. We’re Midwesterners. Our future kids will be from the Midwest and that’s totally weird to say! We only have 3 days left until we’re homeowners and we couldn’t be more excited to start that life together in our new home state. This experience of living in another country has taught us an enormous amount. Perhaps I should make a list of all the differences that stick out in my head, but considering it’s nearly 4 a.m. (Germany time) and not quite 10 p.m. here in Chicago, my brain is out! It’s almost been 24 hours since I’ve had any sleep and I can barely make out coherent sentences. As far as final words are concerned, we are so thankful to have experienced all that we did in this 6-months and there is no doubt we have grown so much as people through this experience. I no longer live in my bubble of existence because I’ve seen the way others live around the globe and was able to relate certain experiences to their lifestyles. This was such an eye-opener and one that has shaped our lives forever… not to mention the quality of coffee we’ve experienced overseas vs. what is available here. I am forever spoiled.

I needed to include a photo or two from this week... always an adventure... I went for an 18-mile bike ride with Toni in downtown on Thursday and we had a great time!

Other than having a generally great time in our new home... we've also been...
  • peeling wallpaper in our dining room... and refuse to buy our dining room table from Crate & Barrel until it's done
  • gardening... picking dandelions, wild onions, branches, and all other items that don't belong
  • working hard (well, mostly my dear husband at his new, wonderful job)
  • working hard (me too! I started teaching an online course for Greenville College MA of Teaching program and I'm loving it. I just spent the last few hours writing my notes for this week's teaching.


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