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I have lots of acquaintances, but....

(21 Posts)
newsnite1000 Tue 18-Mar-14 13:20:12

and there is the but. Been here almost three yrs and like it but though I know lots of people to say hello to or pass the time of day with and occasionally have a coffee with one woman, that's it.

I have joined the local british club and they have activities, often they are when I am at my language course ( I am in a european country) or when I need to collect the children from school. My language skills are not good enough to have a conversation of any depth but most of the people I meet their english is also not much better so conversations are stilted.

I know I need to just get on with things and make the best of it and stop telling myself I am lonely.

EuroMaidan Tue 18-Mar-14 14:39:56

Not speaking the language is a big limitation but you are working on this so it will get better.

Volunteer work also helps if you can afford the time because it places you in a situation where you are forced to learn the language. You can volunteer in school I'm sure - for example offer educational lessons on your home country, language, or just ask what you can do for them - another pair of hands is welcome in schools everywhere.

Do you have hobbies and have you looked at local clubs that relate to those? Sports, crafts, reading/writing club, etc.

newsnite1000 Tue 18-Mar-14 14:53:22

thank you Euro, it is a bit Catch 22, I need to do more local language stuff to learn the language well but conversations are necessarily very stilted and I feel somewhat isolated, but if I spend too much time with expats I might find some friends but I don't improve my language skills.

EuroMaidan Tue 18-Mar-14 14:56:14

True. I think you need both but getting the balance right may be tricky.

If you do what you enjoy doing anyway (hobbies or rewarding volunteering work), the language barrier with locals will be less upsetting.

Where are you from, and where do you live? I'm an expat, so know a bit what it's like. English is my first language, but I'm patient and happy to help teach if you're nearby!

newsnite1000 Tue 18-Mar-14 15:07:58

I am english and trying to learn the local language where I am now living (german).

Ah right. Clearly I can't read in English very well!! blush

newsnite1000 Tue 18-Mar-14 15:18:52

no problem smile

where are you?

AphraBane Tue 18-Mar-14 15:25:32

I think it CAN be isolating as a parent without paid employment (are you a trailing spouse?) and few language skills in Germany. I learned German within a year of arriving - but then I was young and single, and I was able to immerse myself thoroughly into the language without having to consider any children's needs (could just go to a local Kneipe and meet up with people there). Many other people arrive single and then meet their future partner in Germany, so that automatically integrates them into the local society.

I take it your children are not attending an international school? Mine are at a bilingual school and many of the non-working mums do voluntary work at the school - being Klassenvertreter, helping out at events, reading books, etc. But I suspect solely German schools have less parental input. And I've heard people say that SOME small German villages can be rather, erm, exclusive, in the sense of excluding people they perceive to be outsiders. The experience is very different in major cities, which is isolating in a different sense.

Do your children do a particular sports activity where you could join the board of a Verein or help out with catering? Or an activity for you - I go to yoga once a week (which is great for developing your German if you happen to want to learn the name of asanas), but we also get talking before or afterwards.

The one place I met loads of long-term friends was the local PEKIP group (the equivalent of NCT meetings, but all the babies are naked!) after my DC were born, so if you get pregnant, that might be one to bear in mind.

What happens if you invite kids round for a playdate? Could you get talking to their parents when they get picked up, and drop into the conversation that it would be nice to go to Film A, oh, do you think you'd be interested, should we go together? etc

I would go ahead and make some expat friends and not worry about the impact on language acquisition. You're taking classes and living in Germany so that alone will help, and as you get better it will be easier to make friends in German. No point being lonely until then. Besides a lot of expats will have German spouses and friends you can meet and practice with!

I'm in Berlin actually smile

I'm in the UK, but I'm a Yank. I get on really well with my dp's mates, but I struggle to meet friends of my own here.

newsnite1000 Tue 18-Mar-14 15:55:34

Thank you everyone. Yes I am a trailing spouse with a husband who works long hours and who sometimes travels so I guess when I add up the time I have any adult to talk to, sometimes it does not amount to a row of beans.

I do want to look for a job ( and voluntary work) when i have finished my course which is next feb. I got here with children and for the first yr could not go to a course at all and since then have only been able to go 3 hrs a week, now it is 6 but with lots of homework.

my children are also at a bilingual school and in the autumn i have been asked to do some english reading with some of the older children. I will have more time in the autumn when both are at school. Many if the mothers work and the children live in a relatively wide area.

It just feels like a slog and I am stuck between 2 worlds.

How much of this is due to being an expat, and how much due to your situation generally? What I mean is -- say you had moved to another UK town instead of Germany, and you still had a DH not around much, young children, not working. I imagine you would also be pretty lonely (at least you see lots of posts from UK mums in the same boat saying so).

I ask because sometimes I get upset about some aspect of expat-ness but if I realise I'd feel the same way at home, that helps somehow. Feels less overwhelming.

SpookedMackerel Tue 18-Mar-14 18:42:42

I am in exactly exactly exactly the same position, except my children are younger - whereabouts in Germany are you (Pm me if you don't want to say on here)

newsnite1000 Tue 18-Mar-14 19:11:11

Yes dreaming I agree but now the children are almost both at school in the UK I would look for work, voluntary opportunities would be easier, I might retrain. The possibilibities for me would be much more, even though overall I think we have a better quality of life here.

I am digressing but a whole ago, I met a woman who had had a good job and now as an exapt had the whole 3 kid thing to do by herself pretty much and she was very bitter at what she had given up vs. her husband and I thought then " I don't want to end up like that"

newsnite1000 Tue 18-Mar-14 19:12:02

a while ago, not a whole ago

There is a living in Germany and Austria thread - maybe you live near somebody?

I have been here 7 years, had 2 babies here, also mainly have lots of acquaintances, live rurally but everyone is friendly, never come across the anti-outsider thing, but no English speakers particularly locally... I had intense ups and downs in the early years but am pretty happy as I am atm - having been home with one or more babies and / or toddlers non stop for 8 years I long for a bit of time all alone, just me, I dream of silence and little interludes in which nobody wants anything from me, not of friendships and company grin

My youngest has been home with me til now but is about to start KiGa, I do want to start some more work (do a little bit that fits around the kids in the eves now) which is tricky here - school day is so short (German state school) so I only get 3 hours a day even with one at KiGa and 2 at school, so options are limited, and will be for years tbh... Its part of the deal we made by moving here though...

I used to miss the friendship group I had worked hard to build after stopping work for the birth of my first child in the UK, but I hear they have grown apart a lot in the years since too, so things might not be so different in the UK - either way I think I was still somewhat at the ups and downs phase 3 years in, I'm more at peace with it now - or maybe I'm just knackered grin

No harm in ex-pat friends and working on the local contacts and language both at once though!

I can totally understand why you want to avoid that.

What kind of work did you do before? Is there any way to build up online work, or train for some kind of work you can do online? Do an online degree?

It's good to have your own life going on but these days that life doesn't have to be limited to exactly where you are.

LondonInLausanne Wed 19-Mar-14 07:26:50

How are you with elderly people? I have a few friends in my village who are in their 80s. We speak in French and sometimes English. They are amazingly patient when it comes to my slow speaking and speak surprisingly good English. I always find that the elderly are looking for a bit of company and now we are good friends. Ok we don't discuss Rihanna's tattoos or Cumberbombing but i have learned a lot about the local area and traditions and their amazing lives.

LondonInLausanne Wed 19-Mar-14 07:34:11

One friend of mine is the daughter of an SS officer, she and her family fled to Switzerland after the war when she was a child. My other friend, who lives a few doors down from her is a Czech Jew who as a child escaped from the Nazis to Switzerland and was granted assylum. Amazingly they are friends and chat in German together. Fascinating people.

newsnite1000 Wed 19-Mar-14 19:22:44

thank you for all of your suggestions. I need to get out more, go to more things and be more busy so that I don't brood. I have made enquires about voluntary work in a old peoples home and will look further. I have heard of Rihanna but Cumberbombing - ich weiß nicht smile

I guess I miss the idea of close friends and perhaps imagine everyone else has this and I am sure lots of people don't overseas or in UK. I moved a lot when we were in the UK so don't have lots of friends from there and in a previous overseas place I was totally in the expat world (and very sleep deprived from very small children) and I was actually very lonely. Here it would be the icing on the cake to have some close friends.

I need to just get on with stuff and be happy in my self.

I am definitely going to look for work /voluntary position once the youngest is at school because it will do me good I am sure.

Ich muss auch mehr Deutsch lernen!

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