Friday, September 21, 2007

Year 4 wrap-up

Hannah pointed out this week that Monday the 17th was the anniversary of our move here to Germany. She was positive it was the third anniversary, but it has actually been four years since we arrived. It’s hard to believe it has been that long.

When we got here, we had no idea we’d still be here 4 years later. We figured we’d already be back in the US by now, but the academic job market sneers at the attempts of puny mortals to predict their place in its future. John hasn’t let the whims of the American hiring committee system get him down, though. He is working hard at his job and on writing some articles and a textbook, and he’s even been taking on the odd job here and there. Plus he’s the president of his club, and people like him. (Sorry, slipping into Stuart Smalley mode there.)

When we came, we said to ourselves, we’ll stay long enough for Hannah to get through elementary school; then she’ll be changing schools and getting new classmates, and it’ll be the perfect time for a transition back to the US. Instead she has made the transition to German junior high school (it's actually a comprehensive 5-12 school). Four years ago, she didn’t speak a word of German, just some made-up gibberish she tortured her father with, and now she is fluent enough to attend a college-track school, where she is learning Latin via German and is taking *English* as a foreign language. Oddly enough, we all expected that Hannah would be leaving her best friend Sinya behind in Germany, but Sinya moved to Romania this summer, a complete reversal.

When we came, I thought four years would be more than enough to finish my master’s degree, but here I am with one semester of coursework and at least one semester of exams and thesis-writing before I’ll be done. I will have three mini-jobs during the upcoming semester, so that and my coursework will keep me out of trouble for a while.

But as much as we would like to be back in the US, Hannah summed it up nicely when she said life would be perfect if we could just get our family to move over here. I haven’t written about how much we enjoy living here, because I worried that it would cause our loved ones pain to hear it, but if we could transplant everything about our current lives back to the US, we’d do it in a heartbeat. Our apartment might be on the small side, but we live in a gorgeous area that you’d be hard-pressed to equal anyplace in the US I’ve ever been. We spend more time together than we’d ever be able to manage back home. We get by comfortably without having to work ourselves to death, and one of us is home with Hannah every afternoon after school (right now we’re both home). We don’t have a big circle of friends here, which is something we miss, but we make up for it with the time we can spend together at home and taking little trips, even a few big trips.

I had already planned to do a write-up of our first four years after we got back from Scotland, but it turned out harder to do than I had expected. But the last few days have been identical to the “Golden Autumn” we experienced when we first arrived, and that has helped put me in the right frame of mind for this little essay.