Random Thoughts on Repat Life

- I really, REALLY miss walking to do my daily errands. At one point right after our move to Germany I would have given anything to just drive to do my errands but after 3.5 years I got used to the built-in daily exercise. 

- On the same note I miss my 5th floor walk-up. I don’t miss the actual act of being breathless every time I got to my front door but my body misses the built-in exercise. The difference in scaling 5 flights of stairs several times a day vs 1 flight of stairs is also very apparent on the scale right now. 

- I miss being able to go out to eat and not accidentally consuming 5,000 calories. Ok, maybe this is a little bit of an exaggeration, but really. Food is SO good here but also many times SO bad for you and a lot of times you have no idea how many calories you are consuming. All States needs to get on board with California’s law of printing nutrition info on restaurant menus. 

- I LOVE how quickly I can do laundry. In Germany loads of laundry not only took 1 hour or more to complete but  I also couldn’t run my washer and dryer at the same time which made laundry quite the chore. It would take me an entire day to do 4 loads of laundry. In the US I can run the washer and dryer simultaneously and complete all of our laundry in 3 hours. 

- I forgot how hot summer is in Atlanta. And unfortunately it’s not really showing signs of cooling down anytime soon. 

- On the same note I forgot how amazing air conditioning and ceiling fans are. 

- I still can’t get over the convenience factor of life in the US. Stores are open LATE and on SUNDAYS! God Bless America!

- I am loving my job so far! That being said this is the most difficult transition of getting used to life back in the US for me. Getting used to a work schedule is hard, especially when it comes to beauty sleep! I was so used to getting 8+ hours of sleep every night that getting up early is quite difficult and I also find it hard to get everything done. When I wasn’t working I would often get asked "WHAT DO YOU DOOOO ALL DAY??" Well…. I checked things off my to do list and not only got them done but I also got to pursue new things and take up new hobbies. I am loving what I’m doing but it’s also difficult to get everything done on your to-do list, relax, and spend time with your husband and friends in the few hours you have when you get done with work for the day.

- I still can’t get over how quickly our 3.5 years in Germany went and how fast the time has gone since we have been back. We have already been back in Atlanta for 2.5 months!

Life in Atlanta…

I’ve been doing a pretty horrible job of keeping you updated on our transition into life back in Atlanta, sorry for that! 

Today marks exactly 2 months since we moved in to our place in Atlanta. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone! We are feeling very settled at this point. Our apartment feels like home and we have reconnected with most of our friends in Atlanta. I’m so grateful that we moved back to a city where we already have an amazing network of friends. Having such great friends here has made the transition a lot easier than I thought it might be. 

Since our trip to San Francisco we have spent most of our time in Atlanta but we have gotten to take a couple of long weekend trips as well. We went to Hilton Head at the end of July with a group of 4 couples and had a great time. It was my first time there and a nice relaxing weekend with friends.

Over Labor Day weekend we headed to Washington DC for my Uncle’s wedding. It was so great to see and catch up with family that we haven’t seen in an embarrassingly long period of time. The wedding was a beautiful, intimate affair with family and close friends in their backyard -  complete with a catered BBQ and yard games. A relaxing and fun event for the couple and their guests! We also had the chance to go in to the district to meet up with a close Purdue friend one of the nights to make our trip complete. 

And probably the most exciting news of all is that I got a job!! I’ve been in the process of job searching since well before we left Germany and found a company that provides services for expats to ease their transition such as intercultural education and spousal assistance. I am going to be coordinating the services my new company provides for expats and their families by communicating with the corporate clients (expat employers), family clients (families moving abroad) and the subject matter experts providing the training. I am so excited that I not only found a job fairly quickly after being unemployed for the last 3.5 years, but also that I found a position that I am passionate about and is so fitting for my experience abroad. Tomorrow is my first day and I’m already looking forward to the start of my true transition back in to life in the US. 

Overall the reverse culture shock is not as bad as I anticipated. We are really enjoying being home and especially closer to family and friends again. Although there are definitely things I miss about our life in Germany I am very content with my life right now and feel like I am exactly where I need to be. 

"Only in America do we equate workaholism with virtue and view time spent at the shore or in the mountains or in the desert as time wasted — as evidence of laziness."

Once we got to Atlanta we didn’t stay put for long! We drove down to Atlanta on July 6th, the movers delivered our container to our new apartment on July 8th and July 9th Ryan had to leave for a work trip to Kansas City and San Francisco. When we found out Ryan had to go to San Francisco for work we decided that I would meet him there for the weekend!

Friday night we went to a Giant’s game and Saturday we spent the day exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, The Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and other areas of the city. A quick trip but we had so much fun and so much amazing food. Next time Ryan has the opportunity to work in San Francisco I think a return trip for me and a visit to Napa is going to be in order. 

After our experience abroad and all of the traveling we did in Europe we decided we needed to spend some more time seeing all of the wonderful sights that our own country has to offer and I think we are off to a great start! 

I can’t believe it has already been 4 years! What an incredible adventure we have had spending the first 3.5 years of our marriage abroad and seeing 40 countries. Now I’m looking forward to settling back in and seeing what year 4 has in store for us back at home. Happy Anniversary, my Love!

TBT | 4th of July 2014 Boat Parade on Ryan’s parent’s lake

We left Iceland on July 1st and said goodbye to Europe for the foreseeable future. It was kind of weird knowing we weren’t going to be returning to the continent in a few weeks after a visit at home but also comforting knowing that we were finally going home for good! 

We spent our first week back in Illinois getting cars and going through all of the items we had in storage at our parents’ homes. It was like Christmas going through all of the items we left behind, most of which were wedding presents that we only got 3 months of use out of before we had to leave for Germany. That week we also got to spend lots of time with both of our families and it was wonderful getting to see everyone. The best part was knowing that it wouldn’t be 6-12 months before we got to see everyone again. 

Another highlight of the week was actually getting to celebrate Independence Day back in the good ol’ USA! The 4th of July is always a holiday when I felt homesick over in Germany. It’s hard seeing pictures of everyone getting together and celebrating the 4th with cookouts and fireworks when it’s just a normal day in Nuremberg. This year we were extremely grateful for the chance to celebrate with our families and to count our blessings that we are once again residents of The United States of America.

Reykjavik is the world’s most northerly capital city and feels more like a town than a city. That being said, there are an abundance of great restaurants and bars to explore and a few noteworthy sights. 

We mainly just spent our evenings in Reykjavik and still felt like we had plenty of time to see all the sights. The main attraction here is the Hallgriamskirkja Church. It is a Lutheran Church that is more impressive from the outside than the inside but if you pay to ride the elevator to the top of the church tower, you are rewarded with gorgeous views of the city from above. Another beautiful sight is the Sun Voyager sculpture on the ocean which resembles a viking ship. 

We were in Iceland from June 28-July 1 which was just 1 week after the summer solstice and a time of year when it is literally never dark in Iceland. It was a really bizarre feeling and made it hard to feel like it was time to go to bed. The photo of me on the pink bike and the photo of the church were taken at 11pm and although it is slightly darker than it is in the afternoon hours, that is literally as dark as it gets! Don’t believe me? Just look at the time on the church tower!

We had some really good food in Reykavik and I would particularly recommend 3 Frakkar. We love trying local cuisine and have become quite adventurous eaters so this place was right up our alley. We tried the smoked puffin appetizer and Ryan ordered whale steak. I decided to try the lamb which is another noteworthy Icelandic dish. All of our food was really tasty and the service was wonderful! On the other end of the spectrum, the hotdog joint Baejarins Beztu Pylsur by the harbor, is a local institution that has been around since the 1930’s and is a must try while in Reykjavik. The fried onions and special sauce make it a unique Icelandic treat.

Our trip to Iceland by far and away exceeded our expectations and we feel like we only scratched the surface of what Iceland has to offer. With the amazing stopover option that Icelandair offers, I have a feeling that we will be taking advantage of the opportunity to return to this gorgeous country the next time we find ourselves in Europe. 

Jökulsárlón | Glacier Lagoon Iceland

Our last full day in Iceland we did not have such great weather but it still didn’t stop us from making the long but rewarding drive out to the Glacier Lagoon. 

Our first stop on the way out to Jökulsárlón was to Seljalandsfoss. This beautiful and powerful waterfall is one you can actually walk behind! We got more than just a little bit wet but we had plenty of time to dry off on the rest of our drive out to the glacier lagoon.  

Our next stop was in the southernmost village of the island in the town of Vik. Here you can see the sea stacks of Reynisdrangar and the beautiful black sand beaches. 

Next up was the main event of our day - the Jökulsárlón! This lagoon is surrounded by hills so is not really visible from the road until you reach the main bridge. We parked the car and as we made our way over the top of hills and the glaciers came into view, it was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Both of our jaws dropped in awe at what we we were seeing. As you can imagine the photos don’t even come close to doing this place justice but you can get the idea. 

This lagoon is situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and developed into a lake as the glacier started receding from the Atlantic Ocean. The icebergs in the lake calf from the glacier and eventually make their way from the glacier to the mouth of the river that empties the lake into the Atlantic Ocean. The milky white and bright blue come from air trapped within the ice and is an interplay of light and ice crystals. 

This place looks like it should be on another planet! I think that could be part of the reason why it has been a set for several large blockbuster hits like the Bond film Die Another Day, Batman Begins, Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider and even reality shows like The Amazing Race

Ryan decided he wanted to taste 1,000 year old ice and went to fish out his own iceberg. 

Happy about his prize

View of another glacier driving down Iceland’s main ring road - Highway #1

After we spent several hours at the Glacier Lagoon just taking it all in, we made our way back to Reykjavik for our last night in Iceland.  

The Golden Circle | Iceland

On our first full day in Iceland, we set off with our rental car to see the sights of The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is a full day tourist route that generally starts and ends in Reykavik and includes the sights of Thingvellir National Park, the geothermally active valley of Haukadular, and Gullfoss or Golden Falls.

The weather was absolutely perfect for us making the sights we saw on The Golden Circle even more beautiful. There were so many times as we were driving around Iceland that Ryan and I would look at each other in amazement at what we were seeing. This country is so gorgeous it left us speechless at times!

Our first stop was at Thingvellir National Park. The largest lake in Iceland is in this park as is the sight of where the world’s first Parliament started and met beginning in AD 930. The coolest part of a visit to Thingvellir is that you can see the continental drift between the North American and Eurasian plates! 

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Thingvallavatn Lake - the largest in Iceland

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Thingvellir National Park

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Continental drift between North American and Eurasia 

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Thingvellir Church

After our visit to Thingvellir National Park we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in the town of Laugarvatn called Lindin. It was so good! If you find yourself in Iceland, make this your lunch stop. We ate in the bistro area of the restaurant. Ryan ordered the Reindeer Burger and I had the Arctic Char - yummy!

After a lovely lunch, we set off to see the rest of the sights on The Golden Circle. Next up was the geothermally active region of Haukadalur and the geyser called Strokkur. The most famous geyser here, Geysir, is actually where these erupting springs get their name. Unfortunately, Geysir no long erupts except after earthquakes. Lucky for tourists, the geyser Strokkur nearby erupts regularly every 5-10 minutes and is quite a sight to see. 

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Gorgeous views on the drive between Thingvellir National Park and Geysir 

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Geothermally active region of Haukadalur

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Strokkur Geyser

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After we had our fill of this region we made our way further to the Gullfoss. This is an absolutely gorgeous waterfall and particularly beautiful on a sunny day. We walked as close to it as we could and got a little wet in the process but it was so worth it. 

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Gulfoss - Golden Falls

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Beautiful Icelandic Horses - they are everywhere throughout the countryside

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Gullfoss is the last traditional stop on The Golden Circle but we decided to stop at one more optional stop at the volcanic crater named Kerid. The pictures really don’t do the colors of this crater justice.

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Kerið Volcano Crater

Part of what is so great about the Golden Circle is that even when you aren’t seeing one of the famous sights, everywhere you look you are still surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. I knew we were going to like Iceland but I had no idea how much we would love it. After our day on The Golden Circle we weren’t sure how our visit could get any better but we still had a huge treat in store for us the next day - Jökulsárlón or Iceland’s glacier lagoon. 

The Blue Lagoon | Iceland

Let me just start this post by saying that Iceland could quite possibly be the coolest and most beautiful place I’ve ever been. If you can swing it, go. Immediately. 

We had been hearing some really great things about Iceland and were really interested in going but the flights were just as expensive from Europe as they would be if we were to fly from the US. Then we heard about something really cool that Icelandair offers - free stopovers in Reykjavik for upto 7 nights! And so, we decided we would fly from Germany with a stopover in Reykjavik on our way home to the States.

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and one of Iceland’s main attractions. It is located in a lava field in between the airport and the city of Reykjavik making it a perfect stop on your way in to town. Although quite expensive, it is worth every penny and a place you would regret not going. 

The water is rich in minerals like sulphur and silica making it very good for your skin and is the most stunning milky blue color. There are steam rooms, saunas, and various skin treatments available throughout the blue lagoon as well as a swim up bar! We spent several hours here relaxing until our fingers and toes were beyond pruny, and then drove the rest of the way to Reykjavik where we experienced our first day with 24 hours of daylight. A perfect start to our visit and we were already falling in love with Iceland!

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