Chloe’s First Day of School and Frustration

Yesterday began my Integrationskurs. My Integration Course. I am sure I will be writing much more about this in the future.

The first day was simple: introductions and a placement test. I am the only American. In fact, the only native English speaker. There is a man from Peru, a woman from Kenya, and 2 men from Italy. Everyone else is from East Europe and Asia. There are also very few men in our 22 person class. I suppose we are all mostly Hausfrauen, following jobs that our husbands have.

I did very well on the placement test; I technically placed into Modul 6, out of 6. But I read German decently and I am amazing at multiple choice. No bragging, just fact. I brought my organic chemistry grade up from a D to a C with one multiple choice final.

Anyway, even though I could start whenever I want, I decided to start from the beginning, despite the financial burden. The grammar will be boring, but my understanding and speaking are so poor. The 4 hours per day of immersion will do me good.

After the placement test, the Kursleiterin interviewed us individually about where we are from and our German experience. My name puts me 3rd on the roster, so I was able to leave for the day at 10:30. Fantastisch.

Two other great things happened yesterday: We got internet in the apartment and our grocery budget rolled over. We weren’t starving, just eating a lot of potatoes and butter. All the grocery shopping happened, including 10kg of potatoes for 3€. Potatoes are cheaper than dirt here.

This morning, my wavering decision about the integration course was confirmed. Although the actual exercises were the most boring thing ever, it was a good 4 hours for me. The teacher presents the actual topics in our book very slowly, as this course is open for people with no previous German experience. However, outside of that, she talks normally. Simply and slowly, but normally. I pick up most of what she says, but I don’t understand everything. And I learned a few things today, mostly about culture. It will be good. And as our teacher said, today is like kindergarten. The first few chapters will be, but it will pick up soon!

Unfortunately, my good morning dissolved when William got off of school at 1pm. We had a meeting to set up a bank account so that we can prove we can support ourselves, get are visas, and, you know, live in Germany. Also so that I can actually afford to take my integration course. The banker we met with had no idea what we needed, as best as we tried to explain it to him. Of course, this isn’t too surprising since it took the immigration office a week to tell us what we needed in a bank account. Eventually the banker figured out that they had the blocked account we needed, but as he described it, it sounded more like a CD. It wasn’t actually a functional bank account. This banker also didn’t seem to know that the bank we were at has free student accounts.

So now, we wait until Monday to schedule an appointment with a different bank. And don’t have a bank account for yet another 2 weeks. We can’t afford all these ATM fees. We can’t afford to waste any more time waiting for our visas. If we don’t get our visas before November, I won’t be able to afford another month of the integration course without the government assistance available for permanent residents. Without the course, I can’t get a job and staying in Germany will be that much harder. These kinds of downward spirals have been common for me through this process…

Next was a trip to Aufwind, which was suppose to deliver our furniture on Monday. I waited 3 days during their delivery times, and it never showered up. Thursday, while I was at class we received a note asking us to contact them. When we got there, none of the workers could figure out why our furniture was still there. And of course they only deliver in mornings. Which is why it was suppose to be delivered last week, when I could spent my mornings waiting for them. So now I have to run over there on Monday after class, attempt to talk to the boss, and hope that I somehow am allowed to actually have a place to store my clothing.

Oh, and the UPS guy apparently can’t find my apartment. Two packages have not been delivered. One was returned to Amazon, and one was signed for my someone that doesn’t live in this building, so I’m in the middle of trying to get a refund. So now I have to get my packages sent to a pickup location and carry them home from there.

I love Germany. I do. I am loving my time here and I am really excited about what the next few years hold. It’s just…I don’t know if there will be a next few years. Germany doesn’t seem to want us. I tell myself it will work out in the end. I know it will. It’s just hard to believe that at times like this.



  1. Steve Suppan

    Beautifully written blog. I lived in Austria for 18 months but never in Germany. My impression though is that the Beamter (bureacrat) is always right, so patience, persistence and politeness can usually get you what you need. You and Will are greatly missed in choir. Once you’ve obtained the paperwork to reside in Germany, I hope that you’ll find time to join a choir, which I find to be a great source of consolation and relief after a tough day or week.
    In jedem Fall, Alles Gute!
    Steve Suppan, All Saints

    1. Chloe (Post author)

      Thank you, from both of us. I certainly hope we can join a choir; we will see.


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