2013 ist schon da! A new Kaffeeklatsch thread for the New Year - living in Germany and Austria

(923 Posts)
LinzerTorte Tue 08-Jan-13 11:48:02

All welcome - whether you're living in Germany or Austria, have questions about life in those countries or just want to chat. smile

Previous thread here.

LinzerTorte Thu 24-Jan-13 07:50:57

outnumbered Oh no, poor DS. If he's screaming in pain and Calpol isn't having much of an effect, I would take him to the doctor's. DD2 had an ear infection just before we came to Germany in the summer and we went to the doctor's straight away, mainly because it was much less hassle than possibly having to find a doctor in Germany (she was prescribed antibiotics, which did help fairly quickly). Will keep my fingers crossed for you for the Kur.

I don't think I'd notice a UK influence on your English (apart from possibly a Welsh influence), but I've definitely picked up a hint of Australian rather than American. smile I miss my Australian friend; she was always my best source of gossip! (I had a letter from her a few days ago and she still seems to know more gossip here than I do.)

Merlioness Probably not much help, but a friend of mine here (Austria) had a VBAC and was really happy with the way it went. What differences worry you specifically?

Antique I find I'm much more confident about speaking German to people I don't know if I'm angry about something! I must admit I tend to get DH to write e-mails/letters and make phone calls wherever possible. blush

Weissdorn If your DH is happy to speak English to your DD, I would say go fot it (obviously he already has!). I sometimes wish we had English as a home language as the DC hear so little conversation between adults in English - and are exposed to very little English as it is - but I just can't speak English to DH (we tried having a day of English once a week before the DC were born, but it didn't work - it just felt wrong!). As it is, if we're having a family conversation the language is always German (unless I'm addressing one of the DC directly) and they're surrounded by German all day (well, morning) at school anyway. I think their German is inevitably going to be better than their English simply because they're exposed to it in a far wider range of contexts.

DH got back at midnight last night and bought me the two books I wanted. smile I also found two boxes of poppadums in the kitchen this morning, so it looks like he had time to do some shopping - he has also lugged a rather full suitcase upstairs (considering he was only away for one night).

Merlioness Thu 24-Jan-13 07:52:02

Thank you Weissdorn. That's what got me thinking really

I speak German with DS when it's just us.
Otherwise it's English, as that's our "home" language too. DH doesn't really speak German (yet hmm)

Weissdorn Thu 24-Jan-13 08:05:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LinzerTorte Thu 24-Jan-13 08:19:12

Weissdorn No, not really; I would probably feel stranger speaking German to them! I think one of the reasons I don't feel rude is because I know that most Austrians understand what I'm saying to the DC. The only time I make an exception is when other children are around, who obviously don't understand what I'm saying (although older friends are starting to understand more). I'll address all the children in German and sometimes even my own DC individually so that the other children know what I've said (if I can be bothered, I'll speak to them in English first as usual and then repeat myself in German). Otherwise, visiting children will often whisper "What did she say?" to the DC, so it just seems easier for everyone!

I think that, with some children, it can be a slippery slope if you start speaking German to them as they can then refuse to answer in English (this has happened to a couple of friends of mine). You have to find what works best for you, however; I've also heard of older children being embarrassed about speaking English (or whatever the minority language is) when they're out and about. I'm not sure what I'd do in that situation - whether I'd agree to switch to German in public, for example - but for the moment, the children always speak English to me (DS sometimes forgets, especially if he has friends over, but will switch back to English if I remind him) and don't seem embarrassed by it! What they do find a little strange is if an Austrian then continues to address them in German, and they generally refuse to answer. grin

LinzerTorte Thu 24-Jan-13 08:29:21

I also wonder whether the country that your DC were born in makes a difference. As a very broad generalisation, most of the families I know where the parents ended up speaking the majority language to the DC are those whose DC were all born here, whereas those where even just the older child was born outside Germany/Austria will often be more consistent about using the minority language. There are plenty of exceptions, obviously, but I wonder whether it's because you're surrounded by German baby-related talk if the baby is born over here and German then becomes the language associated with babies. I'm probably not making much sense, so will go and make myself a brew!

admylin Thu 24-Jan-13 08:56:11

weissdorn I used to be in that situation when ds was born. I was the only English speaking person (apart from dh who was at uni all day anyway) and the first in out group of friends to have a baby. I went to two baby groups and everything was in German so I spoke German to ds, one of his first words was nein! When he was 3 months old I went to the UK for the first time with him and that's when I stopped the German even when I came back. I found an English playgroup to go to and he was re-introduced to German when he was 4 at kindergarden.
Dd was the same but for a few months now she refuses to speak English with me, she's 13 though so at a funny age. I know she understands everything and can read a book in Emglish if she wants to so I'm not too worried.

Ploom good luck today with the braces, will you be allowed in with her? Our orthodontist doesn't seem to like parents setting foot in the place once the big Beratung/verkaufsgespräch is over with. If you want to speak to him you have to make an appointment or ask the assistant at the reception. I'm not really happy with him but can't change now as time is the problem and it'd take months and months to start somewhere else.

outnumbered I caught earache from one of my dc once and it's was awful. I always used to go to the doctor with it if mine had a temperature aswell as earache. Hope you all feel better soon.

Ooh, Linzer when do you get to have a look through the suitcase?!

The meeting at school was abit of a let down last night, infact they just talked us through what we could have read on the website anyway (as if the parents maybe aren't capable of reading it online)! They also said they would be giving the dc a brochure about it in the next few weeks. Only important info was for sporty kids who want to take sport as exam subject in Abitur have to move in year 10 to another gymnasium as ours doesn't do the theory part that they would need to qualify.

cheaspicks Thu 24-Jan-13 09:13:37

Weissdorn we do the same as you and both speak English to dd although dh is German (and has never lived in an English-speaking country). It's worked really well for us, plus I think the danger that dd picks up the odd grammatical mistake from dh is outweighed by the fact that she can communicate fluently with both my family and everyone here.

I have friends whose bilingual children don't speak the minority language as fluently - in both cases only the mother speaks the minority language to the child and the parents speak to each other in the majority language. My personal feeling is that you should try to be as consistent as possible in speaking English to your dd at the beginning, but I'm sure I ended up calling dd "Mäuschen" or "Schnecke" occasionally in those situations you describe too.

outnumbered Rotlichttherapie! But I agree about taking him to the KA - when dd got an ear infection last winter our KÄ gave us some placebo herbal drops for dd to drink and told us to use the Rotlicht, but she was also very thorough about measuring dd's hearing and made us come back twice to check that it really had cleared up.

merlioness I'm also hoping for a VBAC next time round - dd was breech. Someone already said it, I think, but as long as you know exactly what you want, you can demand it from health care providers here. There's certainly a cultural predispostion to think that intervention is always better, eg. MIL telling me I need Hustenlöser for my cough, or other mums whipping out the arnica globuli at playgroup when dd bumped her toe, and of course the medical care is excellent, but there are also a lot of people with "alternativ" leanings - DD's kiga group have been doing Kneipp Wassertreten every day for the last two weeks, including Schneetreten on Monday shock. What I'm trying to say is, there's room for everyone here!

slatternly and bertie after more than 12 years here there isn't much I really miss any more, with exception of tv. I've got used to not having certain foods regularly - salt and vinegar crisps, some biscuits, fish and chips and super soft white bread with a crust are the main things, but I wouldn't eat those frequently in the UK either. I always bring Marmite and Yorkshire Tea back with me, plus some baking ingredients (golden syrup, posh vanlla extract) and Sozmix!

I finally made it to Lidl today, they still had crisps, fudge, fish and chips, gin and a duvet cover printed with Big Ben hmm, but no sign of any Cheddar. Guess i'll have to be a bit quicker next time...

cheaspicks Thu 24-Jan-13 09:17:12

admylin we had a colleague of DH's staying last week - she was brought up by Portugese parents in Germany - and she said virtually every bilingual child goes through a phase as a teenager of not wanting to speak the minority language. She thinks it's down to not wanting to stand out and wanting to define oneself as German, rather than as the nationality of one's (lame) parents.

LinzerTorte Thu 24-Jan-13 09:46:36

admylin I think that as long as your DD continues to hear/read English, she'll be able to switch back from passive to active use fairly easy - and still has a huge advantage over other children being brought up monolingually.
Suitcase this evening, hopefully!

cheas It's not DH's mistakes I'd be worried about the DC picking up, it's more his accent! Although I sense I'm fighting a losing battle with the accent, as the DC tend to be picking up an Austrian accent when they speak English in order to fit in (at school, at any rate; not with me, thank goodness - although I can still detect a slight accent sometimes!). I may have mentioned this on the thread before, but I used to work with a woman whose parents were both British and always spoke English to her, but she'd been brought up in Germany and had a noticeable (if not strong) German accent.

itsMYNutella Thu 24-Jan-13 09:54:47

That's really interesting what you all say about the language at home. DP speaks English with me (generally) and a mix of English and German with DS hmm I sometimes speak in German to DS but only if we have guests and the conversation is in German or when we are out.... Is it important to be strict from this early? I suppose it's better because then DP and I will have fixed habits so it will be less of a problem later...,

And thank you for all the poo advice grin yesterday seemed somewhat extreme but he is still happy and farting . Trying not to imagine what poo-mageddon after 10 days would look like wink

mrtumbles hope you and DS are feeling better!
And hope your poorly DSs bounce back soon too outnumbered

cheas smile lame parents made me chuckle.

Bumped into one of the ladies from the geburtsvorbereitungskurs the other day and she is due next week. It was odd to see her still pregnant; I don't miss my bump at all smile.

admylin Thu 24-Jan-13 10:06:59

Nutella are you planning on joining an English baby group? I think that's good as dc get a little older and are living in Germany it's nice for them to know that other families speak English. Mine were also brought up on Postman Pat and Thomas The Tank Engine videos as we didn't have any TV back then.

Linzer I agree, I try not to worry about dd and her not speaking English. I know she wants to though as she's the one who asks dh every other day if he's heard from the job in Houston! She says if he doesn't get a job in the US then she's going as soon as she can, by herself, to live!

cheas did you buy a Rotlichtlampe? I saw one the other day in Rossmann as dd was thinking it'd be good for her gerbil if it gets ill! She must have read it somewhere.

cheaspicks Thu 24-Jan-13 10:17:11

admylin I didn't neet to, as PIL had one (essential GDR kit, apparently!) I don't really believe the theory about the infrared heat penetrating more deeply, I reckon lying with your ear on a hot water bottle would be just as good, but it's quite pleasant.

linzer I certainly found that I couldn't translate various baby-related words into English easily having had her in German (as it were). I still can't think of a really good translation for "strampeln", "kicking" isn't quite as specific. And "robben" sounds like a real word, whereas "commando crawling" sounds like it was coined in the last few years.

calpol or rather dolormin seems to be working, so for today I'll leave the doctor's I think. if he still has an earache tomorrow morning, I'll take him as I dont fancy a trip to the our of hours doc's over the weekend.

interesting conversation about languages at home. tbh I know quite a few families who live in Germany with only one English speaking parent, but where the adults speak English with each other as well. It doesnt affect their dcs English as far as I can tell.

I did think about it very long and hard whether to speak English with ours, as I would usually always say that speaking your mother tongue is best. but then, I have lived in English speaking countries for a long time, it often takes people quite a while of talking to me before they can hear the accent (unless I am having one of my bad days smile, and my grammar is good as well thus I am confident that I can actually teach our dc good English.

but what also should not be underestimated is, besides the 'quality' of English spoken, how at home one feels with that language. especially on an emotional level. dh for example speaks very good English, has an amazing vocab, not such amazing grammar or accent. but most importantly, he just doesnt have the same emotional connection using English as he doesnt speaking German. especially when talking to his dc. He says himself that he would feel very very awkward speaking to his own dcs in English, although he has no problems doing so with other children.

I used to feel very awkward speaking to the dcs in English when everyone around me spoke German, as it does make you stand out. but once you've you get used to it, it's really no problem. and as linzer said, most people understand what you say anyway. I dont think it's rude, and neither do other people (I think) as you are simply speaking to your dc in your mother tongue. I am a strong believer in OPOL and do think it confuses the little ones if not followed.

There are lots of ways of having more English in dc's life without both parents speaking English to them. One of the reasons of us having UK TV is actually, so that the boys hear more English. we also try to take them to the UK - or other English speaking countries - as regularly as we can so that they have to speak it more.

Last February our friends from Swansea came to stay, and they boys had no problems speaking to them and their children.

anyway, enough on that topic grin

having two children at home during the week has thrown me somewhat. I am not used to cooking lunch anyway, apart from weekends, as the boys eat at kiga. better have a think what I can make for ds2&3

itsMYNutella Thu 24-Jan-13 10:26:04

admylin I would love to find an English baby group but have no idea where to start looking hmm I need to start looking for some groups, especially since DP goes back to work at the end of next week. We have almost cobbled together some semblance of a routine but don't seem able to be ready to leave the house before 2pm most days shock

Weissdorn Thu 24-Jan-13 10:33:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Weissdorn Thu 24-Jan-13 10:33:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AntiqueMuppet Thu 24-Jan-13 10:38:06

How is your DS now, outnumbered? Did you take him to the Dr in the end? Hope he's feeling better soon.

Merlioness I had a VBAC (that's a vaginal birth, right?) here in Germany. The care and support I received was fantastic. Is there anything specific you want to know? (Feel free to PM me if you want smile )

weissdorn I had to laugh at your DD's farts scaring the dog!

Linzer What books did you get? <nosey>. Do you think you can hold off until this evening before investigating the suitcase?!

admylin Does your DS want to take Sport as an Abitur subject?

cheas I can never think of a German translation for 'commando crawling' (and I only ever need it when I'm nowhere near the laptop/a dictionary). Robben! Thank you - I shall try and remember that.

Nutella I was the same, I thought I'd really miss my bump once it was gone but I really, really didn't!

DS is napping after spending the morning dancing along to the rhythm of the washing machine, bless him! I need to nip into town this afternoon to pick up a few new bras - I'm now three (!) cup sizes smaller than before I was pregnant - I almost cried when the bra shop lady measured me. (We're thinking of starting to TTC DC2 so I dread to think what it will be like in a year or two - inverse, maybe!)

AntiqueMuppet Thu 24-Jan-13 10:43:32

Oh loads of x-posts!

Nutella Is there an 'English speakers/English-speaking familes in Hannover' group or something similar on Facebook? If you ask there people might be able to point you in the direction of a baby group. That's how I found our toddler group and I post messages on the one for our city every now and then to try and get new members.

weissdorn A friend of mine did Babyschwimmen with her DD when she was really small and loved it. It was quite expensive but she said it was worth the cost as it made her so much more confident holding her DD in the water and moving her about while she was all slippery and wet.

outnumbered Glad the Calpol is working. We tend to stick to OPOL too, mainly because I'm a bit worried that DS won't speak enough German when he starts Kiga if we both only speak English to him.

merlioness vbac is certainly possible in Germany (antique it's virginal birth after c-section) and I know of several who had one with no problems. I think they don't like inducing you if you'd had c-section before. My SIL explained before why, but can't remember. If you have specific question about a vbac, I could ask SIL for you ( she is a gynae here in Germany).

LinzerTorte Thu 24-Jan-13 11:32:33

outnumbered grin at virginal birth. I know that VBACs can sometimes be considered tricky, but that would be a step further!

Antique You probably don't want to hear this, but I've gone from a 32C/D pre-DC to a 34AA. There are advantages, though: I can wear summer dresses without worrying whether the bra straps are showing. grin Oh, and I don't notice a difference if I forget to put my sports bra on before I go running!
I think I can probably hang on until this evening with the suitcase, as I was most excited about the books and didn't ask DH to buy much else. They're Gone Girl and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

outnumbered Yes, feeling comfortable in a language is key - my issues with his accent aside, I know that DH would feel very awkward speaking English to the DC and tbh we never even considered it. If he'd been very keen to, it would have been quite different and I'd have just had to close my ears to his accent. The DC only ever used to watch English videos and then DVDs, which has definitely made a big difference to their English, as have regular(ish) trips back to the UK - they have no problems speaking English to my family and friends, although I'm sure they'd have more age-appropriate vocab if we were actually living in Britain!

cheas I've never heard of commando crawling! I used to miss having a decent UK alternative for onesie/Body, although don't need to talk about them quite as much any more. grin

admylin Do you have any idea when your DH will hear back about the Houston job? Wasn't there one in Boston too?

Must go as DD1 has just got back - apologies to anyone I've missed!

LOL i should really always check for stupid autocorrect when posting from my phone!!! grin

LinzerTorte Thu 24-Jan-13 11:37:50

I thought it was probably an autocorrect fail, but it did make me grin!

AntiqueMuppet Thu 24-Jan-13 12:02:34

Ha ha outnumbered your virginal birth typo didn't even register!

Linzer I've gone down from a 32d/dd to a 32a/b <sob>. I'm not sure I'd be totally comfortable braless but it's still far too cold to test it out grin

cheaspicks Thu 24-Jan-13 12:49:32

antique I'm going to allow myself to feel a bit of Schadenfreude about your disappearing chest (I've gone back to exactly the same size and can wear my pre-pg bras again) as you are bound to get pg again before I do <sob> wink

outnumbered tbh dd has more or less been OPOL'd, as she spent much more time with MIL than with DH before she started kiga. It sounds like it's probably crucial what language the parents speak to each other - the aforementioned Portuguese mum was telling us that her DS (3.6) answers in German although she speaks to him in Portuguese - that would be the third case I know of OPOL not really working as the parents would like.

Do any of you wear sheepskin boots in the snow? I've been looking at some online - want to buy some non-heeled winter boots - but then it occurred to me that I never wear my UGGs because I assume they aren't waterproof, whereas I can step into snowdrifts in my Camels and not get wet feet.

platanos Thu 24-Jan-13 12:51:10

we have broken all the "rules" with tri/bilingualism and just chopped and changed due to different changes in life and what felt best. So it will be interseting to see what our dc come out like.
So, here is the how-not-to-do-it story: dd1 was born in uk, dh spoke german, i spoke spanish. english was our common language. slowly we slipped into english as dd went to kindergarten in uk. dd2 was born, I made an effort to speak spanish again and while on maternity leave dd1 understood my spanish. then all slipped back to english. ds was born and english was the main languge though we attended a german playgroup, dh tried to speak more german and they watched german tv (we thought we would be spending a year in germany at that point).
Then we moved to finland - dd's (5 and 4 at the time) went to a german kindergarten and were able to understand everything by christmas. I spoke english to them, but Í also did a "german stunde" with them at first to help them adjust. ds went to a finnish kindergarten.
Then we moved here, dd1 was able to go into school on arrival with no problem in german. ds and dd2 had some more time in kindergarten....In Finland we made a huge effort to improve their german because half way through the year we knew we would be moving here for good (and not to germany for a year). I think english suffered - I speak a mixture of both langauges...or rather, I try to speak english but sometimes german comes faster. They understand but really struggle to speak - except when they are being cheeky and imitating me smile.
oh what a ramble...blush. tis an interesting process to piece together what feels best at different stages, isn't it?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now