First trip to the U.S. since moving to Germany

I just checked and it's been over a month since I've written on my blog! Ahh! I really really need to make a schedule so I can keep up with it. I always have so many ideas that don't seem to make it online. How does that saying go, you start a habit by doing something consecutively for about a month? Maybe that's completely off, but maybe I need to instill someting like that! So, anyway, on to my post....

It's surprising how quickly you find your old habits. I went back home for Christmas so excited to be back in the States. Well, for me the states means Alaska, and for many people Alaska is still some crazy place that is always freezing cold and the threat of a bear attack is imminent everywhere you go. Ok, maybe people don't think that as much anymore with the help of the Discovery Channel and other networks creating tv shows of just about anything and everything Alaska. And while some of the stereotypes are a bit extreme, Alaska is a little behind compared to it's lower 48 counterparts when it comes to many things including music, trends, clothing and other stuff as well. That being said, my version of 'America' is probably a little different from many other people. So I jumped on a plane and after two stopovers in London and Seattle and about 22 hours of travel, I landed in Anchorage.

I guess I was anticipating something where I would see the U.S. much differently, or have some epic revelation. Well that didn't happen, I suppose I've only been out of the states for a little over a year, but there were definitely things that were nice to have again. I missed the little conveniences like garbage disposals (oh how I WISH we had one of those!), not having to sort all my trash into four different trash bins, American TV (in Germany's defense they have a lot of English channels, but we don't have TV so this was very nice for me). Oh and speaking of, it was nice being able to look up videos on YouTube or being able to use Hulu freely. Germany has this thing called GEMA which basically means they block many U.S. shows and videos from being streamed in Germany. There are workarounds for this that many people take advantage of but the point is there is still work involved to watch an American music video on YouTube. So that was nice. Being able to go to a grocery store on Sunday was a nice little perk. Although, my husband and I have always had 'family day' on Sundays, so before we ever moved to Germany we already had a routine of going for a long walk and hanging out together. But, the ability to go to a store on a Sunday was nice. And, of course, being able to speak to people easily in my native tongue (hah) was nice! It's nice to feel involved in the world and understand everything around you. 

When I was home it was SO cold though! It was about -20 degrees fahrenheit with high winds. That lasted for about 5 days. I can't say I miss that at all! Of course, the best part about being home was being able to see my family and friends. All of us siblings were able to hang out together too which was great. That doesn't happen very often for us. I also had a few firsts when I was up there: 1.I had the opportunity to photograph my brother's wedding and now have that to add to my growing photography portfolio and 2. I learned how to drive a stick shift.

Photographing my brother's wedding was such a cool experience. While I am still learning and growing as a photographer, I am pretty happy with my photos and the day was nothing short of wonderful. I am also so glad that I can add that to my portfolio as well!

So why did I learn to drive a stick shift? Well, I got a Volvo in December and it is a straight stick and I didn't know how to drive it. The old owner had to actually park it at my house for me because I couldn't do it myself! So, my dad helped me learn how to drive his car when I was up there. I am quite proud of myself. After only driving a handful of times in Alaska I am able to drive my Volvo very easily, except for those few times I stalled in an intersection. No big deal. I even have driven throughout Stuttgart during rush hour and that's no small feat. The city combined with the neighboring towns is well over a million so driving a stick for the 6th time through a city is pretty good I would say! I think I might have actually patted myself on the back for that one. Just kidding...

Going back home was really nice overall, but when I came back to Germany I was happy that it felt like I was coming home. I no longer feel like a stranger living in Germany, and that is a nice feeling.

When I landed I only had 10 Euro on hand. Usually it's between 8-10 Euro for a cab ride. Since I had just flown half way around the world I was pretty exhausted and not thinking about it at the time. Well this time it was 12 Euro to get to my house so I asked if he could drive me up the road to the nearest ATM (a mere 400 meters) so I could grab some cash. *As a side note they usually don't take debit/credit cards in taxes, especially U.S. ones without the German chip in them)*. The driver then proceeded to scold me about not having enough cash with me and how I should plan better. It was then that I realized I must be back in Germany.