As new residents who don’t speak the language, Adam and I are 1.800.struggling. But, we definitely get by. I can order dinner (and agree to all sorts of things about which I have no clue) and Adam can speak with salespeople really well. As my dad said, when in doubt, flash them a warm, friendly smile and things will usually be OK. Looking like a goober will most likely communicate that you are clueless as to what has been said and what should naturally follow in human interaction. But when looking for apartments, not speaking the language feels as close to a deal-breaker as I can imagine. Placing calls to agents (on Skype, no less, as we still don’t have cell phones) has us immediately inquiring as to whether the other person speaks English. If not, it’s a Oh, OK, thank you, goodbye, and we are on to the next apartment. If yes, we are frantically (and comically) trying to slow down and dumb down our English to be most effective. I’m pretty sure one agency was so fed up with us yesterday they sent out a mass email saying that renting anything to us is strictly verboten. Seriously.
It’s only day three of the search, but finding an apartment is, for obvious reasons, a top priority. I am probably the most stressed about this aspect and I’d love to know where we will make our first home together. We’ve seen a few places and have more appointments set up in the coming weeks so the future looks bright. But we still must overcome the barrier that exists between foreigners and locals. Filling out contracts in German and traveling to small towns to pick up random documents that show we are debt free (though it would be interesting to know how we could stack up debt in five days…) make a daunting task even more unpalatable. I certainly feel like an outsider.
Tomorrow we move to our second temporary apartment where we will live for a month. It will feel nice to put down stronger roots, though of course, nothing permanent. I’m terribly excited for the (hopefully) near future where we too can have an apartment full of IKEA furniture. Fingers crossed!