Happy Sunday, everyone! Almost everything is closed today, which provides Kyle and myself with a blessed opportunity to take a break. Things have been near non-stop since we arrived, although this last week has not been as fast-paced as the first week was. Ready for a recap? Let’s go!
Our flight with Iceland Air was quite pleasant, although quite long as well. The crew was very nice, the planes were very well-maintained, and we even got blankets! I would definitely fly with them again. We arrived in Berlin with all of our baggage on Thursday, September the 12th, and made our way to Potsdam.
Kyle and I slept for a total of maybe four hours between the two of us during the whole journey, which started at 5:30am California time on Wednesday. Once we got to our apartment, I couldn’t help myself, and I fell asleep around 5pm. Kyle joined me an hour or so after that, and when we woke up around midnight, we did some unpacking and exploring of the apartment. We went back to sleep around 4am, and woke up on Friday in time for breakfast before our appointment at town hall.
At the town hall, we tried to register our address with the city, which is required any time one moves within Germany, but we were missing some crucial paperwork – a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from our landlord and a translated copy of our marriage certificate. Feeling silly (seriously, I’ve been preparing for this for months and months and months….how could I make a fumble on step one?), we then went to try and set up a cell phone plan.
We were turned away, since we didn’t have a Meldebescheinigung from the citizen’s office at town hall. Dang. Next, we walked a bit further down the street in hopes of opening a bank account, but were rejected yet again with instructions to return with my Steuernummer (a German tax ID number) and our Meldebescheinigung.
We decided to go somewhere that wouldn’t turn us away for lack of documentation: the grocery store! Once our kitchen had some basic supplies and a smell of home-cooked food, it started to feel a bit homier in our new apartment.
On Saturday, we woke up and drove a VW Golf that we had rented the previous day across 4 states and 430 glorious kilometers of German Autobahn. Despite the lack of a speed limit for most of the trip, it still took about four hours to reach our destination: the Terraristika reptile expo in Hamm, Germany. Once there, we were reunited with our twelve-year-old ball python, Palti, whom we hadn’t seen for about ten days.
We also were able to shop for his new digs: a tank, a heating lamp, a water bowl, substrate, feeding tongs, and temperature and humidity gauges. Thinking that we had everything we needed, we retraced our steps and returned home, arriving around 9pm.
Sunday morning was quite an adventure. Luna’s back leg suddenly started oozing some really gross-looking brownish red gunk (remembering the sight of it still makes my stomach queasy). We found a vet that was miraculously open for two hours that day, and since we still had the car, we were able to make it there before he closed.
The vet was very friendly, and did a great job patching Luna up (although she wasn’t very grateful). We decided that the wound came from her 18 hours spent inside her crate – it was most likely a burn from the ammonia in her urine, caused by sitting on the pee pad for so long. Poor thing, but that seems to be the only thing that’s bothered her about the move. Other than that injury, she’s been her same spastic, cuddly self.
Despite it being an emergency visit, and although we needed a handful of supplies, the bill only came to 29€!
We went home, and I searched around online for a place to buy an under-the-tank heating mat for Palti. I knew we would need one once winter came, but I didn’t know how little warmth the heating lamp would provide, nor that there is not a single store that I can find that has reptile equipment in stock anywhere in Germany. What’s up with that?? Seriously, that needs to change.
Anyway, I found someone in Berlin who had two heating mats for sale. We took our trusty rental car and went and picked them up. After we arranged them underneath the tank, we went and dropped off the rental car.
I don’t remember everything we did on Monday, but I know that part of it involved exchanging currency, going to the grocery store, and picking up various things for the apartment and for insulating and ventilating Palti’s tank at the home improvement store in town called Toom.
Once we got back, we had another pet-related surprise: the freaking heat mats got so hot that they created a massive crack in the glass, spanning the entire width of the underside of Palti’s tank! After running through almost every expletive I know, Kyle and I covered the crack with a temporary fix so that Palti wouldn’t get hurt on the glass, and then we researched tank repair, creating a game plan for the next day.
At about 2am, I awoke to find our dear little python sploshing around in his water bowl, happily flooding his tank with water that went right through the spiderweb of cracks in the tank, covered the table, and was quickly forming a puddle on the floor, steadily approaching the Kabelsalat (a fun German word for the knots that cables easily form when left unsupervised) of electrical cords for Palti’s lamp and mats. Kyle and I jumped up and managed the situation, and an hour later we were back in bed, thanking God for alerting us to that dangerous situation before it got much worse.
The rest of the week remained busy, although luckily it contained less surprises. We continued working on getting my enrollment packet together for Uni Potsdam, finding a bank that would let us open an account, going to get my tax ID number from the Finanzamt, getting our marriage license translated, and other equally fun and exciting tasks. We also went back to Berlin to buy a thermostat regulator for the heating mats, which shuts them off once they reach a temperature that I set, and we used aquarium-grade silicone and some sheets of polystyrene to patch up the cracks in the glass.
We also met our landlords, who own a restaurant in town called Quendel, and we are so relieved to find out that they are awesome people and wonderful hosts. They have showed us such a warm welcome, and have helped us out in many ways. They included us in a fall brunch that they hosted at their restaurant, which was delicious and lots of fun. They also invited us to an Oktoberfest event that we attended last night, which was a blast!
We’re very excited to spend more time with them over the next few months, and we’re really looking forward to returning the favor one day by hosting them in the United States.
So, Kyle and I have now been in Germany for 17 days, and we’re feeling much better and more settled. I have finally submitted my enrollment packet to the University (28 pages (!!) including an officially certified copy of my bachelor’s degrees, and a CV! They only asked for about 10 pages of various documents when I actually applied, what’s up with that?), we have a bank account, our health insurance is on track (just waiting on the Uni to verify my status as a student), and we almost have everything we need in order to apply for our residence permits.
We are registered with the city, but technically we aren’t registered as a married couple. We need an apostille on our marriage license, and then we’ll have to have it re-translated, and then back to the town hall we shall go.
(If you were feeling jealous of our move to Europe, then I hope that reading about all this bureaucracy is easing up that feeling for you.)
We’ve also gotten to know Potsdam pretty well, and last Sunday we finally explored a small piece of Park Sansoucci that is about a kilometer away from our apartment. It’s a gorgeous park, and very large as well. We could easily spend an entire day there, wandering the many paths and touring the various palaces.
There is much more to tell, but that will be for other posts. Here are some more photos that I’ve taken over the past couple of weeks:
I’ve only been on one of the Uni campuses once so far, for a little orientation we had last week. Uni Potsdam has several main campuses in and around Potsdam, but the main offices and buildings are in the Neues Palais, as I said earlier. Here are a couple photos I took that day:
Also, Insektopia came to Potsdam! Here’s a few photos from our visit:
Thanks for reading!