The ABC’s of Hildesheim

IMG_5577.jpg
I hope you’re having a happy day friends! If not, perhaps this post will make you a little bit happier. A few months ago during my time in Heidelberg, I wrote a post called The ABC’s of Heidelberg, in which I chose one experience/thought/thing in my current life to represent each letter of the alphabet. It was one of my favorite posts to write, and also one of the most popular. So naturally, I figured it was time to write The ABC’s of Hildesheim, broken up by a few photos from life lately. Enjoy!IMG_5571.jpg
Au Pair- I am living with a German family and working as their Au Pair, or nanny. I help the mom with the three small children during a portion of the day, and make life easier in any way I can. This is my first time doing something like this, and so far so good!
Birthday- I recently celebrated my 20th birthday, which you can read about here. I was a bit nervous because, other than the fact that I’m no longer a teenager (yikes!), it was my first birthday away from my family. But the community I’ve found here made sure my day was filled with nothing but joy and celebration!
Church- I am also interning for and attending a local Church of Christ, and Sunday mornings have quickly become my favorite part of the week. I look forward to interacting with the lovely church members and being spiritually rejuvenated. There is something special about worshiping the same God in another language. It reminds me our God is not American, he is universal!
Daria- Daria is the three year old of the family. She has taught me more German in the past month than in the past two years combined! She is sassy, energetic, and creative. She loves to help cook in the kitchen and take care of her dolly. I’m already dreading saying goodbye in August.
Erdbeeren- This region of Neidersachsen is known to grow some of the best strawberries (Erdbeeren) in Germany. The family and I plan to go strawberry picking in a nearby field one day soon!
IMG_5506.JPG
Friendship- Making friends can be hard in general, but making friends abroad is a whole other ball game! Add in the language barrier and cultural differences, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some interesting situations. It definitely took time and a few steps outside my comfort zone, but I’ve made some wonderful friends here whom I will cherish always.
German- The German language and I have a love hate relationship (read more here). Everyday is an adventure, filled with small victories and failures! Some days I feel nearly fluent, and other days I feel like I don’t know a single word. Never the less, I’m confident I am pursuing a worth-while goal and I wouldn’t quit for anything.
Hamburg- My friend from home is visiting my this weekend as the final stop on her European tour! I can’t wait explore the port city of Hamburg together. Stay tuned for a post all about this adventure.
Inclusion- One thing I was initially nervous about was feeling lonely. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make friends and have any sort of social life. I’m thrilled to report that people have been incredibly welcoming and inclusive. For example, the other day I was sitting in the mall when a girl about my age approached me to ask me to take a survey. We ended up talking for a while, and she invited me to the movies with her and her friends! I went and had a great time, and it was a reminder that I usually have more in common with people than I think!
Julius & Jakob- Julius is the one and a half year old in the family. He doesn’t talk so much as grunt, which I find incredibly endearing. He is a huge fan of all moving vehicles and building things for the sole purpose of destroying them. Jakob is the one month year old! While we haven’t had too many great conversations yet, I love to cuddle and snuggle him when I get the chance.

IMG_5502.jpg
Kultur- (Culture) Hildesheim is a culturally rich city! There is always a festival or exhibit happening, so it’s impossible to be bored. This summer, the city is celebrating its 1,200 year anniversary with a giant jubilee!
Lets Start Talking- Lets Start Talking is a mission-focused organization that helps people practice their conversational english through reading the Bible. A team of five people from Oklahoma Christian University worked with the church here to ‘read’ with people in the local community. They stayed for six weeks, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and bonding over our experience as Americans in Germany!
Mädchen- (Girls) The main focus of my internship with the church is to get to know the middle school and high school aged girls in the youth group. I have held movie nights, ice cream dates, and game days to connect with them thus far, and I can’t wait to see how those relationships develop further in the coming weeks.
New experiences- It might surprise you to hear that I tend to stay in my comfort zone. My introverted nature often makes me hesitant to step outside my bubble. But now, every part of my day forces me to take a step further into the unknown! For instance, tonight I forced myself to attend Zumba at the local gym. I was so nervous I wouldn’t understand the instructor and totally embarrass myself, but I went anyways, and LOVED IT! #noregrets
Open mind- “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” -Prophet Muhammed. This quote rings true in my life, and pushes me to travel and see as much of the world as I can.
IMG_5457.jpg
Parties- Let me just say, the German people know how to party! It seems like every other day is some sort of party, whether that be a BBQ, lake side bonfire, birthday party, or movie night. I adore how hospitable and generous they are, and how they love inviting people into their homes.
Questions- I recently wrote about my thoughts on my future career. I’m half way done with college, and sometimes it feels like I should know ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ already! But to be honest, I still have no clue…and I think that’s okay.
Raps Feld- Raps Feld means rapeseed field in German. Rapeseed is the colorful yellow plant pictured above used for canola oil and animal feed.They completely cover this part of Germany, and provide the perfect backdrop for photo shoots!
Skype- Sometimes I think people either have the ‘homesickness gene’ or they don’t. Unfortunately, I think I’m one of the ones who has it! On the other hand, it means I come from a home worth missing, which I am always grateful for. Lucky for me, there are plenty off ways to stay in close contact with friends and family back home such as Skype, Facebook, or this blog!
Travel- If you’ve been hanging around this blog for a while, you know I traveled every weekend while in Heidelberg. And although that was amazing, it wasn’t a sustainable pace. Now I’m trying to live the normal ‘German lifestyle’ and experience the every day culture. But I’m not completely traveled out- I’ve visited Hannover and am planning trips to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, and possibly Belgium. Once the travel bug bites, you just can’t stop itching to go!
IMG_5452.jpg
Understanding- Most of the time I don’t understand what is being said, but I have developed a deeper sense of understanding for this world and the people in it.
Verse- My ‘life verse,’ that is, a verse I’ve chosen to encourage and inspire myself, is 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Weather- The calendar says its summer, but you would never know by the weather lately. It went from summer to winter in one day, completely skipping over fall! But I must admit, I kind of enjoy staying at home snuggled up under a blanket while its pouring rain.
EXtremes- I go back and forward between feeling extremely comfortable and settled in a new culture and feeling completely confused!
Youth-group- I have been loving working with the youth group and being a part of the young adult group here!
Zzzz- I’ve finally reached the end of the alphabet, now it’s time to go to sleep. Goodnight friends, thanks for reading!
IMG_5428.jpgIMG_5446.jpg

My Answer to THE Question

IMG_5500.jpg

When you decide to move abroad for any amount of time, you will undoubtedly be asked the question: “Why do you like living abroad?” A perfectly reasonable question to a girl who uprooted her cushy life to move to the other side of the globe. And while my desire to improve my German skills is a perfectly valid answer, it can feel a bit shallow and nondescript. It never fully describes my reasons and motives for choosing this lifestyle. It takes more than a language to keep this girl happy!

So, here are a five reasons that answer in more detail exactly why I like living abroad. If you are an expat as well, perhaps you can relate to and even use some of these reasons in your next dinner party conversation!

1. You Live Outside Your Comfort Zone- Nothing forces you to live in the moment more than stepping outside your comfort zone.  I am someone who tends to stubbornly stay inside her comfort zone, so expat life has been a challenging yet rewarding experience! Of course, life abroad is still filled with the daily nine to five routine, but every aspect of my routine here stretches me in some new way. Mundane tasks like grocery shopping or talking to my neighbors quickly become an adventure, filled with obstacles, tests, and triumphs. When I am in new situations or surroundings, I become more aware of the details and drink in each moment more deeply.

2. You Make Unexpected Friends- Yesterday I went to a movie with five other people, all from vastly different backgrounds and walks of life. Daily I am surrounded by people with different languages, nationalities, and experiences from my own. You would not believe some of the stories I’ve heard, and the incredible people I’ve met. Of course I miss my friends and family back home, but I’m confident the relationships I’ve formed here unique and irreplaceable. I will cherish them always.
3. There’s Never a Dull Moment- I learned what is, in my opinion, one of the most important life lessons: How to laugh at yourself. I have found myself in more awkward and hilarious situations abroad due to cultural misunderstandings, than in the previous 19 years combined! I’ve learned not to take life, or myself, too seriously. I used to plan out every little detail of my life in advance, worrying and stressing over the minutia. But now I eagerly embrace the unknown, which is good, because now I can hop on a train bound for a foreign city, with little more than a few days notice! Life abroad is a lot of things, but dull is not one of them.

4. You Appreciate Home That Much More- You never know a good thing till it’s gone, right? Well, that statement is partially true in my case. I’ve always know I come from a good home, but I didn’t realize just how great it was until I moved abroad. My home equipped me with the tools I need to thrive, and provided the spring board that launched me into the world. But I couldn’t have realized that truth until I was fully launched. And although homesickness is no joke, and you might feel left out or guilty at times, you quickly realize the relationships that really matter are the ones that will last. When I go home in August, I will appreciate everything and everyone in my life a million times more than if I’d never left at all.

5. You Grow and Change in Countless Ways- Personal growth and transformation occurs no matter where you live, but I’ve noticed it is much more tangible and observable when abroad. I can literally see myself gaining confidence with each passing day. I have trips to far off countries, experiences like skydiving in Prague, and souvenirs like holy water from the Vatican to prove my new found sense of adventure. I’ve made new friends with a vast variety of people, and feel completely comfortable asking someone to meet for coffee- something I would have been too scared to do this time last year. The changes in scenery and culture that accompany a move abroad are nothing compared to the changes I’ve witnessed in myself. And I will be forever grateful.

Chances are, you won’t be able to answer in this much detail the next time someone asks you why you like living abroad at a dinner party. They’ll probably excuse themselves to the ‘bathroom’ before you reach point number two. But if you know why you love expat life, they will take notice. Some of your love is bound to rub off on them, and if you’re lucky, they might decide to go home, pack their suitcases, and join you!

Thanks for reading friends, have a good one.
P.s. I originally wrote this post as a guest blogger for this blog. Check it out if you’d like!

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 6.16.48 PM.png

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Micah. She was your typical little girl- silly, energetic, curious. One day, someone asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Smiling up at them, she replied without hesitation, “A Princess, of course!” The person laughed and patted her on the head. “Don’t we all,” they chuckled. In that moment, Micah’s dream of being a professional princess was shattered. Perhaps she would have to find something else to do when she grew up. But what?

As she grew older, her peers began letting go of their “princess dreams” and striving for new ones. Some wanted to be doctors, others teachers, lawyers, therapists. And while Micah eventually realized she too must relinquish her princess dream and replace it with a realistic career, she had no idea which one fit her.

Fast forward to high school graduation. Waiting in line before the ceremony processional, Micah hears fellow classmates chat excitedly about their plans: pre-med, art school, theater programs. Everyone seemed to have their major and corresponding career path figured out. In fear of being asked, what are your plans?, Micah hides under her over-sized graduation cap.

And now’s the part where I switch to first person. If you haven’t guessed, this story is about me! During my time here in Germany, I’ve often found myself thinking about my next two years of college and the future beyond. And while I am a notorious worrier, my recent thoughts on the subject have not been worries so much as questions. 

I’m almost grown up, but I still don’t know exactly what I want to be…what does that say about me?

I think it says a few things. First, the fact that I could never envision myself with a typical job title like doctor, teacher, or lawyer means I don’t want an already established career. I want a job title with multiple words, something that takes a bit of explanation, something like, “Creative Director of Content and Photography” or “Editor of Written Communication.” What the what do those even mean? Exactly.

Second, titles like that aren’t attained through a traditional career path. I see myself following a circuitous path, full of twists and turns and trial and errors. Some people love following a step by step path to their future career- first college, then graduate school, then training of some sort, and then work. But I’ve always been okay with uncertainty where my career is concerned. I like not knowing what my post-graduation plans. It is strangely liberating and exciting! It allows me space to be my creative, unique, crazy self.

Lastly, I don’t want to mold myself to fit a career. Sometime people change themselves to fit into the ‘doctor mold,’ for example, adjusting to what they think a doctor should be. But I want to be myself, and mold my career to fit me. Now I know that’s not always possible, or at least not right away. I will undoubtedly have to go through a few jobs that don’t quite fit until I reach the job that fits me like a glove. Sometime you have to figure out what you don’t want to do first before you can figure out what you do want to do. I’ve already checked quite a few options off the list, and continue narrowing it down with each new experience.

So, in conclusion to this ridiculously long post, I want to offer a few words of wisdom to my past self. Little Micah, it’s perfectly okay to have no idea what you want to do. You will likely spend the rest of your life figuring it out. But chances are, you won’t become a professional princess. That’s too conventional for you anyways.

Thanks for reading friends, have a great week!

A Happy (German) Birthday!

549361_10204742557105746_9001426591637117096_n.jpg
It’s official: I am no longer an angst-filled teenager, but rather a mature adult. Or at least I pretend to be. Sunday was my twentieth birthday, and I had the unique pleasure of celebrating it here in Germany. As the day slowly approached, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about being away from friends and family back home. While I’ve never been a big party person, I do enjoy the tradition of going out to dinner with my immediate family and a few close friends. I’m happy to report, I didn’t feel nearly as sad as I thought I would, because the day was filled with so much excitement and joy! Keep reading to experience my high-quality birthday through low-quality photos.

IMG_6931.JPG
When I walked out of my bedroom Sunday morning, I was greeted with this lovely sign by the talented three-year old in the family. “Gottes Segen” means God’s Blessing in German, and is a common birthday greeting. It is bad luck to wish someone happy birthday before their actual birthday in Germany, so this was the first I greeting I’d received thus far!

IMG_6918
Daria opening my birthday present- I didn’t mind, she was so cute! The bag played Happy Birthday every time you opened it, and you best believe she opened it at least fifty times.

Next, we headed off to church. I am so glad my birthday landed on a Sunday, because church is an instant, pre-planned party! I love the community I’ve found at church, and there’s no other group of people I’d rather share my day with. I brought a carrot cake and peanut butter chocolate cookies I’d baked the day before to enjoy after the service. Now you know I hate to brag, but they were pretty dang delicious!

FullSizeRender
^I wished for three more wishes. Obviously.IMG_6947
After church, we headed home because my ‘host mom’ had kindly offered to cook me one of my favorite German dishes- Käse Spaetzle! This is basically classy Mac n’ Cheese- thick flour noodles with melted white cheese and a creamy mushroom sauce. I ate three bowls full, and keep in mind this is after the two three slices of birthday cake. No regret.

Like I said, the quality of these photos does in no way reflect the quality of these experiences.

After an afternoon nap/food-induced coma, I set off by bike to meet a few friends from church for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The evening was so light hearted, funny, and affirming. I am proud of the people I surround myself with, they are always building me up.

10402555_10204742557665760_4403229809948673085_n
The evening culminated in a Skype call with my family, the four people who have walked beside me every day of this journey.

Thanks friends for reliving my special day with me. I missed you dearly, but I can’t thank you enough for all the support and love you’ve given me these past twenty years. I can’t wait to see what year twenty has in store! Have a great week, see you back here before we know it.

Let The Dog Days Begin

IMG_5723.jpgHello friends, how are things?

I’m feeling pretty great, because summer has officially begun! Ok, maybe it doesn’t technically start until June 21st, but I declare the season officially open none the less! Let the Dog Days of summer begin.

What exactly do I mean by the Dog Days?

You know, those lazy, unproductive summer days filled with sweaty clothes, sticky hands, and happy hearts. While the year calendar might end in December, every school child and parent knows the year actually ends in August and begins again with the start of school in September. Summer is the reward for everything you’ve accomplished and all the effort you’ve exerted throughout the other nine months. After surviving the cold German winter, Germany has rewarded me handsomely with a gorgeous summer!

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Southern California, land of eternal summer, that I am suddenly so appreciative of the lovely weather. I jumped for joy on the first sunny day in May, and cherish each warm day like it could be my last! I particularly enjoy the twilight hours, after the heat of the day has settled and the sun begins to sink slowly towards the horizon. Sunset isn’t until around 10pm here, so I’ve found myself turning into a bit of a night owl.

But my favorite part of summer is the change of pace. Everything slows down, including my brain, and I can finally take a deep breath. Previously frustrating or worrisome things somehow become less complicated. Life is divided into seasons- seasons to work your butt off and stay busy, and other seasons to take a break. Neither pace is sustainable the whole year- I would burn out from school if it were any longer, but I would feel bored and unproductive if summer were any longer. Our God designed this life we life perfectly, don’t you think?

Anyways, enough of my pointless rambling. I wanted to share a few photos from a recent visit to a playground/natural hiking area here in Hildesheim that I visited with the family I’m working for. This day in particular sticks out to me as the official commencement of the Dog Days of Summer- enjoy!

IMG_5622.jpgIMG_5612.jpg
^I may or may not have frolicked in this field. Just a little.

IMG_5672.jpgIMG_5701.jpg^The little Mr. deep in thought.IMG_5702.jpg^Make a wish!IMG_5706.jpg^Straight chillin’.IMG_5716.jpg
^Over the hills and through the woods!

IMG_5723.jpgIMG_5740.jpgIMG_5678.jpgIMG_5697.jpgI hope you’re enjoying these Dog Days as much as I am friends! Have a good one and I’ll see you ’round here soon.IMG_5632.jpgIMG_5601.jpgIMG_5633.jpg

Ten For Twenty

Hello friends, how have you been? As you may or may not know, my twentieth birthday is in less than two weeks. I will officially be a twenty-something, a fact that is both exciting and terrifying! Arn’t the twenties the time when you’re suppose to figure out your life- job, spouse, home, family, etc.? Well, I’m happy to report I have none of those things figured out, and that’s quite alright with me! What I do know is that I’ve cultivated a passion for travel and adventure. In my short 20 years on this earth, I’ve been able to visit more places than most people can in a lifetime. I feel so grateful for every opportunity I’ve been granted thus far, and I look forward to filling the next twenty years with equally amazing memories. So, with this milestone quickly approaching, I thought I would write a short review of the ten places I visited this past year, as a way to count my blessings. Continue reading and be sure to click on the country title to read more about my experiences and adventures in said country!

P.s. I’m excluding German from the count because, well, 11/20 just doesn’t sound as cool as 10/20!

Spain If I had to describe Spain in one word, it would be spicy. My group’s trip to Barcelona came at just the right time. We escaped those cold winter blues and exchanged them fun in the sun! We headed straight for the beach, where we were the only people dumb brave enough to swim in the ocean, while the locals stared in disbelief. I ate Paella, sipped mango juice, saw a flamenco show, toured La Sagrada Familia, attempted to revive my high school spanish, and much more. All these little moments combined to form one unforgettable, spicy experience!

Switzerland Pepperdine has another abroad program in Lausanne, Switzerland, where students from Heidelberg are allowed to visit. My friend and I spent the weekend there, and took a day trip to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn. Let me just say, the real mountain is 100 times better than the Disneyland ride. Before this trip, I thought, what’s the big deal? It’s just a mountain. But when I finally saw it, I too was awe-struck by its grandure! The Swiss Alps are stunningly beautiful, and I hope to return again one day during the summer…preferably when I’m rich and can afford to eat real Swiss food, not that McDonalds isn’t great or anything…

Hungary I feel cold just looking at this picture. Budapest, you know I love you, but you pack a mean punch in January! Despite the bitter temperatures, my friends and I had a marvelous time traipsing around the gem of Hungary. Set along the Danube river, Budapest is a truly unique city in every aspect. The intricate architecture, distinct food, and world renowned sights such as the Natural Baths, all help make Budapest a must see city! Thanks for the good times, Budapest, and the frostbite…(but I kid, I kid).

Scotland This picture alone speaks to how fun my trip to Scotland was! I traveled with two of my closest girlfriends, and we were silly and goofy with each other the whole time. We spent a day traipsing around Edinburgh- climbing Arthur’s Stool, visiting the castle, and eating in the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter. The next day, we took a guided bus tour through the highlands, an experience I will cherish always. This trip took place on the last travel weekend of the semester, and I’m so glad it ended on such a high note!

Ireland As a former Irish dancer, I had always dreamed of visiting the ‘motherland.’ The emerald isle lived up to and exceeded my every expectation! This trip was even more special because my mom was able to join me. We spent St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin (OMG!), and the next few days  touring the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, Kilarney, Cork, and much more! There is something magical about this little island- it’s no wonder it’s left such a huge mark on the world.

Italy There is so much to see and do in Italy, that I honestly felt overwhelmed. I was tempted not to visit the country at all during my year abroad, and save it for the solo trip it deserves. I wasn’t sure I could truly experience Italy right in a weekend. Never the less, I decided to make the pilgrimage down to Rome…and boy am I glad I did! Sure, I could have spent months exploring Rome, but those two days were filled with memories that will last a lifetime. The sights, sounds, and smells you encounter while wandering the streets are something out of a story book. And the food…my mouth is watering as I write! Plus, we saw the pope through an unexpected turn of events. If you love history and culture, Italy is a must see, whether you have two days or two months.

France Nearly six months later, I am still having dreams about the croissant I ate in Paris. They really are better. I was able to travel to Paris and Normandy during my time abroad, and I thoroughly enjoyed both trips. Paris is overwhelming in the best way- the Louvre, the Eiffle Tower, the Arc de Triumph, etc. There was so much to see and do, that I constantly had to remind myself to slow down and drink in the details of my surroundings. During my time in Normandy, I visited Mont St. Michelle and the D-Day landing beaches. Both places took my breath away, but for different reasons. The island monastery of Mont St. Michelle is an architectural feat set in the most gorgeous bay you ever did see. The landing beaches were sobering- I never grasped the magnitude of D-Day until I saw the setting with my own eyes. Overall, I give France a five out of five, would recommend.

Croatia I was lucky enough to visit Croatia as a child with my family on vacation, and always wanted to go back one day. So when a few friends mentioned their plans for trip to this beautiful country, I knew I had jump on board. Croatia is a dream- clean, safe, beautiful, historical- you name it, Croatia has it! We spent three days lounging on an island just off the coast, renting mopeds, barbecuing, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of the  Adriatic. At the risk of sounding too dopey, I will add that this trip was a bit stressful at times! The language barrier was much stronger here than in many other countries, and the large travel group size was hard to navigate. But all in all, I’m so glad I got to experience Croatia not once, but twice!

The Czech Republic As a creative/artistic type, I was totally inspired by Prague! The city is bohemian and eclectic, every building is ornately decorated and unique. But the thing I will remember most about this trip is sky diving! I saw a flyer for sky diving in our hostel (*insert mom’s tears here*) and decided to take the leap. Prague looked just as beautiful from the sky as it did from the ground.

Austria My entire program spent a week in Vienna for out Educational Field Trip in October. I was a bit sick with a cold, so I couldn’t fully enjoy myself, but I still remember Vienna fondly. It is a city of museums, and I was able to see some of my favorite art pieces in person. I also thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Schloss Schönbrunn, the palace pictured above, which was modeled after Versailles in France.

And that my friends, is a brief over view of ten of the countries I’ve visited in my twenty years. I can’t begin to express how thankful and blessed I feel. I try to never take it for granted. This blog is a space to record my adventure in order that I may never forget God’s goodness in my life. I don’t know much about what the future holds, but I’m pretty sure my love of travel isn’t going anywhere.

Here’s to the next twenty!

Why Children Make the Best Teachers

IMG_6373

Hello friends, thanks for stopping by! As you may have inferred from this post, I have a love/hate relationship with the German language. In the big picture, I have no doubt German is the language for me, and that my goal to be bilingual is worth while. But in the smaller picture, I often get hung up on the daily frustrations and struggles of learning a foreign language. I have a habit of setting high, somewhat unrealistic goals for myself, such as being fluent by the end of the summer. And when I don’t meet those goals, I feel like a total failure. For instance, the other day I accidentally asked someone if they were pregnant, when I really meant to ask if they were a twin (the words are so similar!), and then I accidentally bought sour creme at the grocery store instead of yoghurt (again, the words are so similar!). I get so annoyed with myself, and start to think, If I can’t even do this right, I will never be fluent...maybe I am hopeless after all! It’s a downward cycle. I spent the first three weeks in Hildesheim living with a newly wed couple. We had an amazing time together, but I felt extremely discouraged in the language department. It seemed as though I’d reached a plateau. I’d taken three semesters of German and lived in the country for nearly eight months, yet I could hardly form a coherent sentence! I listened and drank the language in all around me, but couldn’t seem to actually speak myself. Then, just when I felt like throwing in the towel, the day arrived for me to move in with another family to work as their Au Pair. And just like that, my feelings about language acquisition changed overnight. What changed, you ask? Friends, I believe I’ve discovered the secret…Children! Ok, so maybe I’m not the first to discover said secret, but I’m sure glad I did. Below are three reasons I believe children make the best teachers, plus an assortment of random iPone photos from our recent walk around the neighborhood. IMG_6386

1. You Have No Choice- The children I’m watching are ages three and a half, one and a half, and three weeks. Surprise, surprise- none of them speak English, which is actually an incredible advantage! First of all, their adorable little voices speaking German is too much for my ears to handle. Second, I have no choice but to speak German with them. Since little kids are very expressive physically, it’s easy to decipher what they really want. For example, the little girl I watch said, “Du sollst mich anfangen!” then proceeded to run away from me squealing and looking over her shoulder. I had no idea what ‘anfangen’ meant, but I correctly assumed she wanted me to chase her. Basically, we play a giant game of charades, and I learn new words. It takes out the middle step of translating from German to English back to German, and accelerates the pace!

IMG_63372. You’re On The Same Level- I am a perfectionist in nearly every area of my life, and I want so desperately to speak perfect German. But that’s just not how the process works. It’s trial by error, baptism by fire, falling down and getting back up again. If you don’t speak first with errors, you will never speak perfectly later. I get self-conscious speaking with adults, because I’m afraid they will think less of me or assume I am unintelligent because I don’t sound intelligent. I know this is not true 99.99% of the time- people have been so incredibly gracious and helpful- but I still  feel that way often. With kids, on the other hand, we’re on the same level linguistically. I never feel as self-conscious and can speak without inhibitions. I don’t mind when they correct me or ask me what I just said.

IMG_6330

3.  You Learn With Them- When I read a picture book to the kids, I’m learning just as much as they are. If I point to an animal and ask, “What’s that called?” I usually don’t know the answer myself- I genuinely need them to tell me! I’ve learned the vocabulary for all five senses, common animals, house hold objects, and automobiles from children’s books. I love discovering the world with them, one word at a time.

IMG_6349^The good life.

IMG_6358

^Where can I get one of those bikes without pedals in my size?

IMG_6341^The weary traveller.

IMG_6448

^Grass is just so fascinating.IMG_5578.jpgIMG_5583.jpgimg_5558.jpgIMG_5593.jpg

^One of the only areas of town that wasn’t bombed during WWII.IMG_5588.jpg^These German gardens, though.

So friends, if you’re struggling to learn a new language, look around for a kid to help out! That sounded kind of creepy…but you know what I mean. Easier said than done, I know, but I hope this post has been encouraging- you are not alone! If we put ourselves in a child’s shoes and remember to take one baby step at a time, we will be over that plateau in no time! Have a great week friends, I miss you already.