We moved to Münster last week, which was infinitely easier than moving to Germany initially, about a year and a half ago. We know the area, including the city of Münster itself, and we know how the train system works. Even though it’s hard to imagine, our German is even much better than it was when we were first trying to acclimate to Bielefeld.
It seems like the recipe for a completely smooth moving and assimilation process. But never fear: even if the German holds up, there are still many other ways to look like a jackass.
Like when we spent the past weekend inventing weird systems to cook our food, since we don’t have an oven and the stove did not (appear) to be working past a gentle warm. A woman who works for maintenance came on Monday morning to check it out, and she managed to get water boiling in under 3 minutes (under an hour would have impressed me). I was stunned into silence when I saw that she had simply turned the knob in…the other direction. (Thankfully for my self-esteem, the back burner actually was broken, so it wasn’t a totally wasted visit).
Then there was my first trip to the Edeka, about 20 minutes way in the town center. I walked to exactly where Google Maps told me to. I saw not one, not two, but THREE signs advertising the Edeka. But there did not seem to be an entrance. There was a Chinese food place, a bakery, and a lot of people walking around who I could have asked for directions – but I was not about to ask “Wo ist Edeka?” while being framed by multiple signs for Edeka. After circling the complex, walking down the block and back and weighing my options, I realized that the bakery storefront was actually the entrance to the Edeka, which was hidden down a flight of stairs. Obviously?
The worst, however, was on the day we moved. We dragged our bags into the apartment and were so enamored of both it and the neighborhood, even taking time to go across the street to get some groceries, that it took us a couple of hours to realize that we could not find our laptops. In fact, that neither of them were in the apartment. In fact, you might say that one of us (not my husband) had left the bag, containing both laptops, in the back of the taxi. You might say that this individual had been very busy using her phone to e-mail her parents a picture of a cute dog that was on the train (“LOL look at this dog!!!1!!”) which may have distracted her from her bag-wrangling duties. Thankfully, said husband walked back down to the train station, talked to everyone possible, and called both taxi companies. While waiting to hear back after the dispatcher sent out a message, he hung out by the taxi queue and “made friends” with the other drivers, who commiserated with his plight. (He swears he didn’t use the words “dumme Frau,” but it would be totally justified. Without even hearing back from the dispatcher, he then saw the very same cab driver that had driven us to our new place. By tapping on the window and using hand gestures, he found the bag in the exact same place I had left it. The taxi driver, who was, if I remember, a big fan of Russian techno music, was just as relieved as both of us.