The Vegas Wedding

VegasWedding 2

“They can probably get you a student visa. They kept saying how much easier it would be if we were married.” A little over ten years ago, we were living in New York. The company I worked for had just opened an office in Milan, and I had been chosen to staff it. Scott was counting the days until he could quit his job on Long Island to come along. Continue reading

Settling into Edinburgh

Edinburgh Dean Village

About time for a wee blog update, isn’t it? Let’s fast forward from my month in Tokyo (we’ll come back to it, I promise) and jump all the way up to present day, where Scott and I are just your typical, everyday serial expats settling in after yet another international move. We’ve been in Edinburgh for about five weeks now, long enough to have most of the new-country administrata out of the way. The first few weeks of a new expat gig feel the same pretty much anywhere, even if the details are different. Register this, paperwork that. Sign up for a cell phone, figure out where all the various kinds of recycling go before the growing tower of vodka bottles in the kitchen falls over, that kind of thing. Continue reading

Edinburgh: the apartment hunt

Edinburgh Royal Mile at night

We’re more than a week into the hunt for a flat in Edinburgh, and it’s been quite the rollercoaster. We’ve seen some horrible places, and some less-horrible ones, but nothing that we’ve fallen in love with yet.

The main problem is our stuff. It’s always the stuff. When we moved from the US to Italy nine years ago, the agent had a hard time finding apartments for us to view because we were adamant about not wanting to buy a kitchen. In Milan (and Munich), the vast majority of rental flats come completely empty – no light fixtures, no window coverings; the kitchen is usually just an empty room with a water pipe coming out of the floor where the sink should be.

Continue reading

Things you hear when you tell people you’re moving to Edinburgh

Not Scotland“Scotland? Cool! Have you seen that movie Waking Ned Devine?”
(Actually, that’s Irish.)

“But it’s so cold there!”
(Winters are a lot milder in Edinburgh than in Munich. We see that as a downside – we like snow.)

“Why would you want to do that?”
(This one comes mainly from Scottish people who live outside of Scotland.)

“Are you going to learn that kind of dancing where they only move their legs?”
(That’s Irish, too.)

“Do you like whisky?”
(Yes, very much. Can’t wait to visit Islay.)

“Have you found a place to live yet?” Continue reading

Wired

After a 3-week wait (which by several accounts in quite short), Kabel Deutschland has finally deemed us worthy of giving them money in exchange for internet. Internet! In my home! Yayayayayay!!! I feel like doing a happy dance around the room, but then again that would require getting up from the computer. And I have a whole bunch of internet to catch up on.

I’d like to take this opportunity to profusely thank Zoozie’z, a fabulous bar and restaurant here in Munich which offers free internet. I have spent much time there these past few weeks.

Regularly scheduled blogging (and email replying, and commenting on other blogs, etc., etc.) to resume posthaste.

O2 rocks my world (a little bit)

So as I mentioned in the last post, we are keeping busy doing all those annoying little things one must do upon arrival in a new country: paperwork, set up utilities, paperwork, get insurance, paperwork, sign up for a cell phone plan, paperwork…

We decided to get contracts with the cell phone provider O2, since it seemed to have some of the less-offensive rates around (it’s entirely possible that there are better rates out there, but processing any additional info might have made our heads explode before we even got around to choosing one). After offering up our passports and visas to prove that we were worthy of paying lots of euros for German mobile numbers, we were actually pleasantly surprised by two secret extra-special bonus features that came with our new plans:

1) My O2 phone has a mobile number and a home number.* So if someone wants to reach me but doesn’t want to pay those crazy mobile-calling prices to do so, she can simply call my ‘home’ number, which will cause my cell phone to ring (but only if I’m at home). This means we don’t have to bother to get a home phone at all (which we were hoping to avoid, anyway). It also means that my husband and I have different ‘home’ numbers.

2) For signing up with O2 I got 10 hours of FREE internet access (in an attempt to get us hooked before they jack up the price) – and not that lame trying-to-browse-the-www-on-your-tiny-ass-phone kind of internet, but fancy on-your-computer internet which magically works via tiny invisible fairies which travel at the speed of light between your computer, your cell phone, and the series of tubes. Such fancy newfangled things they’ve got these days. This internet thing is so very exciting to me since, as I may have mentioned before, we still don’t have internet at home. (Note: I’m trying to use this fancy phone internet sparingly, so my excuse to still not be replying to emails in a remotely timely manner still stands.)

And after all these years, the German word “Handy” still makes me giggle.

* A little background for you Americans: unlike in the US, where mobile numbers look the same as landline numbers and cost the same to call, Europe differentiates between the mobile network and the landline network (‘Festnetz’) in some ways. Mobile numbers have certain prefixes, and cost more to call in most situations than landline numbers do.

I think we’ll call this the interrogation room

Still alive, still unpacking, still no internet at home. A trip to Ikea is long overdue (at least Ikea sells the same furniture all over the world, so our new German furniture will go perfectly with our Italian, Swiss, and American furniture).

Another thing we need to take care of is choosing a German cell phone plan. They are much more expensive here than in Switzerland or Italy, so we’re actually trying to pay attention to what we sign up for this time. Other than the cell phone plans, I’m pretty consistently amazed at how much less things cost here than they did in Zurich.

Every time I leave the apartment, I fall a little more in love with Munich. It has a great vibe, combined with beautiful architecture and interesting people. Our neighborhood seems more fun each day – new shops, restaurants, cafes… I find myself walking around with a goofy smile, bubbling over with excitement to get to know this city. And trust me, I am not normally a bubbly person.

Home at last

After two months of wandering the US, it’s nice to be in a city I currently can call home: Munich. We arrived a couple days ago and have been sleeping on an air mattress in our new apartment since then. I sure am looking forward to seeing all our furniture and stuff next week! Until then, we are keeping ourselves busy mopping (a few rooms have brand new flooring – covered with a couple centimeters of sawdust) and shopping for odds and ends.

One of the big exciting discoveries thus far has been a gigantic Kmart-like store just a short walk from our new place. This type of store was sorely missed in Zurich (and Milan, for that matter). It’s great for (1) when you don’t know where to go to find something (because they sell pretty much everything… I mean everything) and (2) when you don’t want to pay a fortune for said thing. Quality and service are great and all, but sometimes you just want to pick out something yourself and pay hardly any money for it, you know? It must be the American in me… but the best part is that I don’t even have to go to a strip mall to find this stuff in Munich!

Another bit of fabulousness: the tram stop near our place has one of those live signs that tells you exactly how long until the next several trams arrive. This makes it super-easy to decide whether you want to wait around or just give up and walk. Efficient laziness!

Alas, it’s not all sunshine and flowers here in Munich: it’s going to take 2 TO 4 WEEKS to get our home internet access set up. What in the world am I supposed to do until then? I’m already wearing out my welcome at the one and only free internet cafe I know of. Anyway, if I owe you an email or something, um, I hope you’re breathing normally until it arrives.

Despite all the hassles that a move brings with it, it’s so worth it for all the fun I have getting to know a new place. Now if you’ll excuse me, we’re off to get acquainted with the world’s largest Feuerzangenbowle. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

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