Monday, August 12, 2013

Nette Nachbarn (Nice Neighbors) in Germany

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now and was reminded about it after trying to fixing my flat bike tire.  The main point of this post is simply to say that we have awesome neighbors here in Germany! 

While living in Borken for the first 18 months of our time in Germany, we really became close to our neighbors and spent many evenings in the driveway talking and laughing.  Dylan would play with the other kids in our building and we would have a couple of beers, which aided my German speaking (my theory on this is that my German speaking ramps up with the first couple beers, peaks around 2 or 3, and begins the gradual decent afterward. At this point it still sounds good in my mind but does not to the person on the other end.  That’s usually the signal to go home.).  

My neighbor buddy Gerd, who is a retired worker from a large corporation, was always a. in a good mood and b. available to talk.  Gerd and his wife Julia were always looking out for us.  For example, my bike would always be fixed before I could get it to the shop because Gerd would see the flat tire in our car port (bike port in our case) and fix it.  I called him an angel because somehow my bike would be fixed overnight.   It was a miracle!  I was so impressed how friendly our neighbors were and how they would go out of their way to help us.   While the move to Münster was necessary for our sanity (I still get motion sickness watching the SprinterBus that I would take each day pass outside of the train station) we were so sad to leave Borken because of our neighbors.  I still really miss our neighbors there. 

After speaking to other “Auslanders,” I got the impression that our experience with neighbors was not typical, which makes sense.  Germans would naturally feel more comfortable living with other Germans.  I wondered how we would be received in Hiltrup. 

It didn’t take long to get introduced to our neighbors in Hiltrup and guess what - they’re really nice, too.  Everybody is friendly and nice to each other.  Most of the people go about their business here, so unfortunately, I haven’t found a Hiltrup Gerd here (he was one of a kind).  Instead, we have a female version of him - Gabby - who is about the same age and is just as nice.  She, too, is always in a good mood and always has time to chat.  She also leaves little gifts downstairs in our ‘kinderwagen’ just to be nice. 

In both Borken and Hiltrup, someone remembers to put sweets and chocolates outside our door on St. Nikolaus Tag (December 6th) for our kids.  Thankfully, we always forget about this tradition and are able to sneak the candy into a pair of shoes before the kids figure it out. 

One of the biggest aids of making our transition to Germany successful has been through the kindness of our neighbors.  It’s great knowing that our neighbors are looking out for us.  
Gerd (and Balu) - our good friend and bike angel.

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