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'Kinder Krank' and my Experience with the German Medical System.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hello everyone,

I keep meaning to do an update to that very intense blog entry I did two months ago----and I will I am busy (even when sick) but here are two tidbits for those of you who are wondering:

The boss, who many of you rightly (but sadly) called a 'lunatic' is gone. She came down with a thyroid related condition, which could also explain the insane behaviour, and resigned after being sick for over six weeks. Our new boss is a nice lady who has inherited a difficult situation. Things are easier but still rocky.

When all was said and done we lost two kindergarten teachers, one therapist and our boss---all in the span since I started since February. I feel like a survivor.

Some of you might remember in October of last year the week of my 30th birthday and about a month after I came to Germany I came down with a lung infection. Painful but hardly a surprise this came after suffering in silence for weeks with a sore throat, congestion, insomnia, anxiety and being surrounded by sick children with 'scary' noses day in and day out.

What can be a troublesome cold for most turns into a lung battle royale for me. I call this lovingly 'kinder krank.'

About three weeks ago I felt that familiar congested feeling in my throat. After sleepless Sunday night I went to work thinking I was just tired and could tough it out. That afternoon I was told to go to the doctor because apparently I was even paler than usual and I thought it could be true because I just felt an nondescript awful. Later that night: throat pain, anxiety, congestion----I made an appointment the next day for my 'Haus Artzt' or GP.

My experience with German doctors has not been very impressive. The wait can be hours long, the appointments last less than 15 minutes---it seems that they are little more than a sick note writing service sometimes and as for having a good bedside manner I have been really disappointed. But---I had to go.

'Disappointment' could not exact how angry and ignored I felt leaving that appointment. I waited two hours to basically be shoo-ed away after the doctor listened to my lungs and checked my glands. Did he ask a family history? Take my blood pressure or temperature? Did he ask if I had had respiratory infections or problems before? NO, NO, NO. As if he couldn't be bothered and had no more time for me he wrote me off sick for a week and told me to go take Ibuprofen!

I told him that I was in serious pain, that I had a lung infection less than a year ago, walking pneamonia twice as a teen and was born three months premature. I was told I had a bit of Laryngitis and it would go away.

This was my second time with this doctor and the last. My boyfriend and I made an appointment with a throat, ears and nose specialist the next day. That appointment last thirty so minutes with very thorough checks of my throat, nose and lung condition(s) and wouldn't you know----I was confirmed with a lung infection and prescribed 1000 mg of antibiotics three times a day. I was told because I work at a kindergarten I was not to return for at least a week and that the pain I felt after doing seemingly normal stuff like light cardio workouts, walking and congestion waking up was REAL.

In the span of two weeks three other adults have come down sick. The staff to kinder ratio is low and for those of you have read about my kita that's a desperate situation. I saw this all coming weeks ago and I am not sorry---instead of having the courage to say NO KEEP YOUR CHILD AT HOME to parents who see us as babysitters; children who were clearly not feeling well and contagious were allowed to come in and their siblings too!

I was supposed to come in today but after still having discomfort after working out and in the mornings when I awake I decided to get a final clear from the specialist. This resolve was strengthened when I found out this morning the leader of my room---a person who is also into his fitness and really stubborn---is now out sick. Anyone surprised?

I also have four days, three times a day dosage, of antibiotics left and I am confused if I should take them or not, am I still at risk of illness or not? Is it safe for me to return to the children even though I feel 95% better?

Well, in classic my kindergarten fashion I called them this morning early and said I wanted final clearance from my doctor and they were MAD at me! Upset of course because they physically need me there to babysit the kids and let's face it I have not found caring or empathy to be a strength of most people for the last year I've spent in Germany.

I understand their feelings from a work perspective I do--- but what from a personal health perspective? I feel like I am making the wisest all around choice considering the health of my work environment and my own health history and susceptibility. What the hell good am I going do do the kids if I come back for a day and feel like scheisse a few days later? What if the lung stress I feel after an hour walk is not a lingering last little thing? What if I should stop taking the antibiotics, what if I should lower the dosage?

What would you do if you were me? Am I being too sensitive?

I know this blog probably seems like a rant and it is a little---but I am sure most of you can relate to the frustrations I am letting go of here. Teachers what do you think? Fewer can relate to the fallacies of German work and medical environments. There are good things: I pay a lot in taxes (about 45% of my salary) and much of that is towards national healthcare. I am sure those of you on the more conservative side of things in the USA (I might be a big ole Socialist to you :P ) are rolling your eyes----but at least now I feel like I am getting my money's worth. Seeing a doctor let alone a specialist would be unthinkable for me in the USA, I will say this though I have yet to find a doctor here with even half of of the caring attitude that I was accustomed to in the US. That's regrettable.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. A bigger update coming within the month, probably on my 1 year Germany Anniversary the second week of September.



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ARCHIMEDESII 8/31/2014 4:06PM


I'm glad you found a doctor who was able to diagnose your lung infection. Americans complain about the cost of healthcare, but the fact is, we do have access to an excellent healthcare system. anyway... with regards to your work situation.

The way you're being treated is not unique to Germany. I've worked for companies here that said if an employee was out sick for too many days, they could be let go. If you had to be out for multiple days, you needed to prove why you were out. Also, here in the US, many companies no longer provide sick days to their employees. If you get sick and stay home, you don't get paid. If you're trying to keep a family afloat, it means if you get sick, you may have to tough it out and go to work just so that you won't lose that day's pay.

That is becoming a very common scenario. very few companies give their employees so many sick days that they can be out for longer than a week. When I was working contract, I didn't get paid for taking a sick day. So, yes, there were times when I had to drag my coughing self into work because I didn't want to lose a day.

Your school is short handed, so every day you're out means more stress for the teachers who have to cover for those who aren't there. And it stinks. Look at how many companies in the US have laid off workers. It means those that didn't get laid off are expected to do extra work without extra compensation.

Keep taking your anti-biotics and get well soon !! Yes, it's tough to work in a kindergarten because you are prone to catching all sorts of germs. So, make sure you wash your hand regularly.

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RONNIEHUEY 8/28/2014 11:40AM

    emoticon Good luck!

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CAROLCRC 8/28/2014 8:10AM

    Finish the antibiotics!!! Otherwise the bugs just come back stronger and become antibiotic-resistant.

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EVER-HOPEFUL 8/28/2014 6:49AM

    hi samatha love sorry you are having such problems finding a sympathetic and good gp.i am lucky i have a very good gp here in germany and have been with her since i first came here in 1996.though most of my dr´s and specialist have been very good here i know loads who keep changeing their dr´s while they haven´t found the right one yet.i also remember having problems with my gynochologist here and have chenge sevreral time.that is the one thing here you can easily change dr´s when you want.sorry you have been ill but i do know you must finish the whole course of the anti biotics to make them work.if i get a chest infection i am like you and usually 3-4-courses of going back to work that is the normal course here and i think in most countries if you no longer have fever etc.but it is always best to get the all clear first so you are right there.will you be able to make an appointment today?.let us know how it goes.if you remember when you were moving here i did warn you what it was like in the kinder gartens here with staff turn over and lack of staff also surprized me when i first took the kids to kinder garten here.anyway hang in there love and keep on keeping on.tell us morte about your boyfriend ,lol.know i am thinking of you emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PATSYB7 8/28/2014 5:42AM

    I'm not a doctor but I think you're supposed to finish the antibiotic. Good luck and feel better!

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I need to get this off my shoulders.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Hello Everyone,

I have been gone for a while, after my work visa came through I began working---like crazy---and haven’t had time for much else.

However, I am finding it harder and harder to cope with my work environment and co-workers and need advice or if nothing else empathy.

I work at a kindergarten which should naturally be a supportive and kind workplace but it is nothing but. I didn’t know this until two months of working there but my organization has had about 29 members of staff leave in the last five years. In the almost five months I have been working there three staff members have left, one of which had a clear personal conflict with the boss and was in tears nearly every day of her last week. I have had the unfortunate experience of walking in on another colleague crying in a staff room.

Quality management has been at our location for around a month but seem to be completely oblivious to what the real problem is: gossip, constant one up-man-ship, the often deliberate withholding or refusal of information/training, harassment, lies and an emotionally unstable supervisor.

I am perhaps in the worst spot. I am relatively new and despite my proactive attitude, submitted work and good repoire with the children and their parents am largely regarded by my all but two colleagues (9 total two foreign and one male) as the ‘dumb American.’ I am constantly being called out for petty things such as using the wrong kind of plate for breakfast, my accent, not being ‘quick enough’ or being ‘too observant.’ If I try to express an idea or opinion at a meeting I am rudely cut off by the boss. During a time when it was thought I had gone outside to work, I even heard a group of colleagues including the boss gossiping about me and how ‘stupid’ they think I am. When my colleagues think I have done something wrong they never confront me about it but rather go straight to the boss. I believe they resent me for being non-German and being in a role that is very hard to fill by a German.

I myself have experienced a tremendous amount of sadness, stress and isolation and do my very best to cry away from work. My boss appears to have severe emotional issues and takes her anger out on everyone but especially me. She seems to have limited social skills and cannot even do “small talk.” She never smiles and looks constantly like she might have a breakdown. She has told me that I have ‘done nothing’ good so far. She makes promises (e.g for classroom supplies) and weeks later takes them back---four weeks ago she had an outburst at me in front of a new colleague when I called her out on this. WhiIe would not describe her as a physically aggressive person she even slapped my hand out of the way a few weeks ago when I was apparently in her way.

I have tried to talk to quality management about the struggles I have observed, felt and the gossip I heard but instead of listening they seem to insist that I refuse to ‘adapt to the German way.’ Every time I tried to explain an idea it was met with the sentence: “This is Deutschland!” I have been told to always ask questions but when I do I am met with “You should already know that!” There seems to be an expectation that I should be a mind reader…and obsessive compulsive.

If this wasn’t enough, we have frequent staff absences and others enwrapped in their own self important meetings---so I am left alone with the children. The environment becomes nothing more than maintenance and of course if there are any behaviour management issues it automatically becomes my fault.

I am sure most people reading this would think I am crazy for wanting to keep my job. The sad thing is I need to financially, I just began at the beginning of the year. I also went through the hell of waiting two months for my work visa and I am not sure if I could deal with this again. I am not sure how much more I can take of this bullying, it’s making me ill with toothaches, some weight gain (I workout a lot) and lack of sleep. I no longer look forward to work despite the lovely kids because no one can be certain about the emotional state the supervisor or colleagues.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BONNIEMARGAY 6/2/2014 5:22PM

    I am so sorry you are in such an abusive situation. Please do everything you can to leave, no matter how many steps are involved. It will be worth it.

While you are still there, please do your best to use this toxicity to practice better boundaries.

Please try to do things in a different way if you want a different result.

You can say as each situation arises: Do not slap my hand, it is inappropriate to touch me. Do not gossip about me, it is inappropriate to speak about me that way. Do not call me stupid, it is inappropriate to speak about me that way.

When they tell you to adapt to the German way, you can tell them that didn't work out very well for the Jews, did it?

Wishing you relief, no matter what you do.

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PATSYB7 6/2/2014 5:57AM

    Gossip is the worst! And the fact that you overheard it--ugh. Hang in there and take good care of you. That will give you the energy to "fight" this nonsense. Bullies like a weak target.

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KYLIECAT1 6/1/2014 10:17PM

    Sam I feel so sorry for you and I know what your going through ! But the shoe was on the other foot for me , I am a supervisor for foreign help here in the USA . Although some of the group were fantastic workers others seemed to just want to cause trouble and not follow the rules of the work place, They certainly didn't follow my directives ! lol
I could try to give you some advice but I dont know if its pertains to your situation. Office gossip is horrible and should be avoided at all costs even if someone seems friendly.
Ask for detailed list of rules for the job description. We give these out and even give them a cheat sheet in case they have difficulty understanding the main handbook, but even the cheat sheets didnt help . My best advice is to be yourself , continue to work hard . avoid saying things like this is not in my culture , or we dont do things this way in my country , thats the kiss of death phrase , Try getting some advice on how to deal with this problem from nonwork related German friends . They will be your best alley to deal with this situation. Remember also if your new they might be very leery of you , remembering past incidences with other workers. but the biggest advice is keep a smile on your face , Good luck !

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SUSIEPH1 6/1/2014 8:09PM

    Sam dear.
I think I would be looking for another position immediately .. This is a toxic environment and will cause you nothing but anxiety and pain .. You will be the scapegoat if anything violent happens, as you are a foreigner ..
Please reconsider trying to make this toxic environment better .. It will not happen ...
Hugs Susie emoticon emoticon

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PATTYKLAVER 6/1/2014 4:49PM

    Financially, you may need the money, but, in the long run, the toll it's taking on your health just isn't worth it. And, the kicker for me was when you mentioned that others have left you alone with the children. THIS IS NOT SAFE FOR THE CHILDREN AND IS ILLEGAL IN THE UNITED STATES. If one got hurt and/or you had to attend to a child, who is there to watch the rest. What if someone crazy comes in the building? It sounds that, with the mentality that they have, if something were to happen, you would be held liable. You would be fired, sued, thrown in jail, or any number of things. Please consider something else.

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TRAVELGO 6/1/2014 4:30PM

  So sorry you're in such a mess. Good luck to you.

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LINDA7668 6/1/2014 4:20PM

    I wish I had some great advice for you. It sounds like a very toxic environment to be in. Try not to let them bring you down. I hope things improve or you can find a new job. emoticon

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PRINCESS_SOFI 6/1/2014 4:18PM


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ARCHIMEDESII 6/1/2014 4:14PM

    You're not alone. I know several people in similar situations. It is easy to say quit if only for the sake of your own mental and physical health. But when there are bills to be paid and no other jobs that will hire you for the time being, you have to grin and bear it. Do as the British and maintain that stiff upper lip.

First off, you have to be aware that YOU are not the problem. The problem is the lunatic boss that no one wants to fire. Until she is gone, everyone else is going to be miserable. I seriously doubt that this is the German way. The Germans are noted for efficiency. There is nothing efficient about this kindergarten.

Since you can't quit your job, you have to find better ways to cope with the work stress. You also have to find a way to disassociate yourself from the work. You already have a good relationship with the students and their parents. That's a plus in your favor.

How to improve your relationship with your co-workers ? The fact is, you're always going to be the outsider. You can't change how people treat you. You can only change how you react to them. So, if you allow their petty behavior to get under your skin, it will. If this were the US, I would tell you to stand up for yourself. But since you have already done that, then... you have to turn the other cheek. If they are going to be petty, then ignore their comments to the best of your ability. I know it hurts, but you have to remember, you're just an easy target for them. From what you've said, they target everyone. It's not you.

That's why you can't take anything that happens personally. You have to distance yourself from the job and your life away from work. When things get rough, you need to find that happy place where you can go and no one can bother you.

Be professional. Always be professional. And make sure your finances and paperwork are in order just in case the school does let you go. They do sound that petty and vindictive.

I would also cultivate your friendships with the teachers who do like and respect you. Support each other. It's better to have one good friend you trust than a bunch of acquaintances.

The point is that you do what you have to do to cope until you either have a bit more time under your belt or a better job lined up. It does sound like no one really wants to work at this kindergarten. That's a shame.

Hang in there as best you can.

Comment edited on: 6/1/2014 4:17:12 PM

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EVER-HOPEFUL 6/1/2014 4:13PM

    hi love sorry you are going through all this but i did try to warn you what it is like to work in the kindergartens over here.i have never seen an other country that has such a quick turnover of staff,shortage of staff,staff being always ill etc as here.i think it has alot to do that they are all run by differant ,individual groups or peole than by a school or edicational board and the kindergarten vertager/board of the individual boards have all differant criteria and funding is also always a problem.have you ever though of try ing to work in the amarican or english run schools or working for the helen doran fanchiese as they are pretty popular over here.just a thought.the only other thing i can think of is try and kkeep out of the kindergarten politic as much as possible and try and build up a bigger personal crise out of work.there will be loads of english german association or clubs you can maybe check out or see if you can get friendly with a local nanny group for english speaking.once you have a more personal life and can socialise more the work atmosphere might not seem so bad.that is what i did when i first came over here.if you ever want to talk spark mail me with your fest netz number as we have a flat rate for that so it wont cost me anything and say when is the best time to phone you.know i am here for you should you need me.take care and keep smiling emoticon

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Update from Germany (Part III: New Kindergarten)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Deciding to stay and find a new job in Germany after such a dreadful end, even with the ‘high’ of the concert was not an easy path to tread. I began to become very worried about my finances. I was also required within three days of receiving my official severance letter to file as unemployed with the Arbeitsamt or employment office and return to the rude majority of the Auslanderbeorde or foreigners office and ask for an extension on my visa to find new work. All of these appointments of course could only be done in German.

There were days, most days, where I felt strong and applied for many jobs and continued to study German as not to lose my fluency. There were other days where I felt deeply sad about what had occurred, especially because I’ll never know why for sure it all ended (I later found out that our region is broke and will not be taking anymore non-EU English speakers and why they tried to screw me out of my housing allowance a day after I arrived saying they paid too much for my flight!) and yes it did bring back the horribly sad memories of what had happened to me in Turkey two years earlier. Who knows maybe my Kindergarten had the same reasons?

(Turkish experience)

Some of you might remember from all my “waiting for my visa” entries back in July, August and September that I made friends with a colleague at another location M or Manuela. We have a lot in common. She was raised in Australia by Bavarian German parents and I knew from the first moment I spoke to her from Skype that she would be one of my closest friends ever. I cannot begin to tell you what sort of blessing Manuela has been .

During the scary application period she called me almost every day to check in, invited me to her home on the weekends and looked for contacts and connections. I applied to no less than 20 Kindergartens and International Schools, mainly in Bavaria where regulations have been relaxed because of huge demands for teachers and the total lack thereof. I got a call from every single place I applied to!

One place in particular, an international school close to where I live in North Rhine Wesphalia was very lucrative. I really hit it off with the director and co-teacher. They asked to check my references, especially my German reference. I had gotten along with colleagues, at least on the surface so stupidly I thought nothing of this. I got an email one day after I submitted my references saying that they could no longer accept my application. Wow, what in the world had I ever done to that Kindergarten? Even to the last appointment I stayed cool and courteous---super sour grapes or unsubstantiated rumours?

I was disheartened and angry but Manuela told me about the Kindergarten her kindergartens cook ‘s wife works for ---an integrated, bilingual Kindergarten for children with and without special needs. Perfect for me as an English and German speaking Special Education teacher! I applied and got a call within a week. I did a days hospitation and they offered me the job. Given my professional experience and goals where I accepted.

Good right? No, this is Germany where one needs approval and paper for everything. I took my new contract back to the Arbeitsamt and they said they would need to make certain that a German or someone from the EU wasn’t on file---someone who could do my job instead. I was told this could take two to four weeks. It was the middle of December, tired of feeling like I was on an emotional pendulum of powerful-happy vs. dejected-sad I of course decided to go through the bureaucratic nonsense for the thousandth time BUT I would go back to the USA for two weeks over Christmas.

Christmas was wonderful and freezing cold! I hadn’t seen snow or ice and came home to the now famous “Polar Vortex.” I was tense over my situation in Germany over the holiday but hugging my sweet Beagle and nieces helped!

I came back to Germany on January 5th and though that everything must be in order with my new visa by now and I could start working again. Ohhhh NEIN! I was told by my agent at the Foreigner’s office that there had been a “technical error” between the work authority and foreigners office getting paperwork going. In reality, someone was probably “sick” for weeks or on six thousand weeks of holiday. I was now going on three months of unemployment and livid!

My American friend Kelly who worked in Russia while I was there and reluctantly went back this year came to Berlin for a three day escape. Manuela, without asking, slipped me 150.00 Euros and said I needed to go see my friend while I waited for my new visa to come through. GOD BLESS HER, Kelly and I had the time of our lives.

The last week of January I got a notice that a three year visa was awarded and I finally began working again this month!

My new Kindergarten is wonderful. It is smaller and far more diverse than the first one. My colleagues are overall nice (here in the Ruhr it is a simple fact that foreigners are not liked  )and very accommodating. I get along particularly well with two colleagues: one from Slovakia who has been living in Germany for 12 years and a woman from the Philippines who has been here for 20 years, unlike anyone else I met in this or the previous Kita they know exactly what I have gone through.

The kids and families are sweet. In my Kindergarten there are a lot of Russian children/families and they adore that I used to live in Russia! The kids love it when I speak to them in Russian for fun and one little girl in particular loves to show me what she learned at Russian school on the weekends.

I still like awake at night and wonder/worry. I can do it but it is very hard to live and pay my obligations on my salary, the attitude of many people can get exhausting (for instance when I am in public and speaking English on my cell phone people have told me to be quiet or given me dirty looks, mind you a group of drunk German speaking kids or soccer fans does not get this treatment) and back in December I got myself into more trouble: I started dating a German guy who treats me like a queen. He has asked me to be his girlfriend and the only thing that stops me is my own sense instability over the last few months, homesickness and time to time anger at how foreigners are treated.

That being said, when I made the choice to stay I promised myself I would give it as much as I could and so I will.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RONNIEHUEY 3/14/2014 2:36AM

    I read your three blogs.Good luck with your problems emoticon .

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SUSIEPH1 3/9/2014 2:06PM

    So very sorry Sammy that you have this awful experience ..
I hope you find work in your chosen country ..
And all this uncertainty settles down ..
Hugs Susie xxx emoticon

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EVER-HOPEFUL 3/9/2014 9:08AM

    oh sami am sorry you are having so much trouble over here.i never had that much with people on the street most actually like my english german(my english accent is so strong)but maybe because i live in münchen which is a more international the authorties and visa etc that is a diffrant matter.but again that depends on the sachbearbieter.the worker.if you are lucky to get a nice one there is no problem.i remember my first one was a little hitler and even had his tashe.the others after that have all been pretty nice though.i don´t know why but the kindergartens round here seem to change their staff on a regular bases and some seem to change on a monthly bases.glad it all seems to be getting sorted out and falling into place now.alyso glad you had your concert not that i heard of any of the bands you mentioned i said before if you have a fest netz and ever want to talk just let us have your number and i will phone.lets hope the tide has turned now in your favour.way to go on the eating and exercise that is great that you kept it up despite everything.i am proud of you love. emoticon

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PHEBESS 3/9/2014 8:52AM

    Wow, just read all three blogs - you really have been through a lot! Glad you found the right place to work, though, and I hope you love the place more and more!

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BABYSOX 3/9/2014 8:33AM

    I just read your three blogs and I am sorry for all of the stress that I am sure you suffered. Perhaps, those challenges were meant to make you stronger and provide you with the opportunity you now have at the new teaching job. Your healthy lifestyle is the foundation for this successful life.

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Update from Germany (Part II: Thirty Seconds to Mars, making the choice)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Saturday after I got the dreadful letter in the Kindergarten office, I was sitting in my apartment trying not to cry so I surfed the web. In a random google search I saw that Thirty Seconds to Mars was in Berlin that Friday and it occurred to me…I wonder if they would be in Cologne anytime soon, I did a quick search and indeed there would be a concert at Laxness Arena TOMORROW. Now for those of you that are ‘Echelon’ (30SM fans) then you know they tour damn near constantly and always sell out huge arenas. I had been meaning to see Thirty Seconds to Mars for a couple of years but something had always been in the way---usually being broke from being a student! Naturally, all the tickets for the Cologne show had been sold out long ago but like with everything else that had occurred recently I decided to go for it.

I quickly checked German Ebay classifieds and about ten or so people were selling their tickets. Now obviously it is risky to purchase tickets secondhand, especially off the web but I would try to be extra careful if anyone offered to sell theirs to me by speaking with them in person, asking for a picture of both sides of the ticket and triple checking all these things once there. I found one woman , a person a bit younger than myself who had an extra ticket----a standing ticket at that so I offered to pay 10.00 Euros above what she had paid (or probably won!) …She agreed to meet me at the concert venue the next day. I couldn’t believe my luck: a standing ticket at a Thirty Seconds to Mars show!!!

After streaming through thousands of people at the arena I found my vendor, the ticket was indeed quite real so I paid and began to stand in the huge standing place only line---where I would stand with the most fanatical of Echelon for five hours! The anticipation was immense! During the wait some organized fans came around with signs for people standing in the front 25 rows or so, that said “Love,” “Lust,” “Faith,” and “+Dreams” which when read together is the new album title, LOL lucky me I got “Dreams”; these Echelon were so organized that they had written instructions about what to do with the signs in both English and German.

The concert was nothing short of exhilarating. Those of you who know Thirty Seconds to Mars well know their shows are very bright, loud and high energy. After standing in line 5+ hours I found the consistent jumping a bit much but my feet that long ago would have given up obliged! I was in the 13th row out of 14,000 thousand in attendance. I’ve always wanted to see Jared Leto’s beautiful blue eyes up close (LOL this is a wish I’ve had since I’ve been about 10 years old and first saw him on ‘My so Called Life, a show that made high school like super cool haha.) and that was accomplished.

Now I hope I don’t come off as overly emotional here. I am a music lover and have always been and I have bands/singers that I love beyond measure because the amount of emotion thought and talent they put into their music. For instance “Neon Ballroom” or “Diorama” by Silverchair will always remain a favourite, even if I am nowhere near the age or experience now as I was then because of how profound the craft in those albums is and there are of course themes/lyrics that speak to you more in certain times in life than others. The Thirty Seconds to Mars concert could not have come at a better time.

Themes of attack, fight, survival, persistence and courage in the face of cowardice are found in most of their songs, particularly on albums like “This is War.” “Savior” in particular spoke to my experience
9s (“This is War”)
gg (“Savior”)

I needed that message. I am sure the the choice to stay and fight was already in me but let’s face it most of the events of the week had left me shell shocked and something had to bring the courage out of me.

I arrived in Germany on September 15th and on November 3rd, sometime between 9:00 PM and 1:00 in the morning in Cologne the choice was made, stay and fight for what I had already put so much effort into.


Update from Germany (Part I: Highs & lowest lows)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Hello Everyone,

It’s been about six months since my last journal entry here at Sparkpeople, and therefore six months since I moved to Germany. I never intended to be more or less absent from this website (though through my bodymedia I did continue to upload exercise/calorie counts.) …But then again, I never ever thought my move here would have such highs and such heartbreaking lows.

A few brief points:

My health is much better, in fact I am in my best shape ever after a full recovery from a serious lung infection and mandatory maintenance period. Shortly after I arrived in Germany and began working at a Kindergarten where parents knowingly sent their very sick kids to attend I came down with what I thought was a cold. As my illness progressed I woke up at nights with an agonizing sore throat and cough; until one day I could not breathe. I asked to go to a doctor and was sent *alone* unable to breathe, wait two hours to be seen, and conduct the appointment barely able to speak and in German. When I asked my so-called ‘mentor’ to help me she said: “No, I have to work.”

I was written off sick by a doctor for two weeks, including my birthday but nonetheless it was a beautiful day because I got a call early in the morning: 65 little German children singing in unison!

At the beginning of 2014 I decided to pursue an 80% vegan diet, increase my water intake greatly and begin taking a prescription strength vitamins and supplements. It shows my skin is glowing again, energy high and figure showing the results of recent efforts. I am back to working out six days a week and as those of you who live in Western Europe know, commuting and walking around three hours a day. It’s quite easy to get 15,000 steps simply going about daily life. According to my Bodymedia I now burn 2700-3000 calories a day. That is crazy for someone who was lucky to burn 2,400 with exercise when still living in the USA.
I could write a book about the ridiculousness and inefficiency of German bureaucracy.

What I experienced applying for and waiting for my first visa is nothing compared to the hell that has been: establishing and reestablishing my mandatory health insurance, dealing with a shady landlady and worst of applying for my new/second German work visa----particularly under the very dark cloud and emotions of what happened to me on October 30th.

A hard story to tell:

I regret and feel silly now for ever calling the employer I came to Germany for my ‘dream job.’ I thought that because they are an international, multiple state established chain of Kindergartens with a very sleek websites and advertisements that I would be welcomed into an organized, friendly learning environment. Instead ,I did my best to integrate into apathetic chaos. A centre where staff were often away for weeks at a time ‘sick’ or on holiday and therefore chronically understaffed and kids were allowed to play and go wild *all day.* Keep in mind in Germany, most people get 6 weeks holiday and sickness is not counting against it! It didn’t take me long to realize that what I was sold is not what I bought but I decided to make the best of the situation and if nothing else enjoy my time with the sweet children and watch as my German language skills went through the roof.

I thought my repoire with the staff was good, nobody seemed to openly dislike or mind my presence but they also didn’t seem to want to have me there to actually begin doing what I was hired to do: teach.

The only time that I felt any hint of animosity was the when I caught the paranoid jealous glance of a co-worker as I spoke to a parent in English. I am half German American, speak German and had been to Germany four times before moving here so I am still surprised and (sad) to write this: people in the region I live in especially (Cologne, Essen, Dusseldorf aka “the Ruhr”) usually cannot speak English, even the young people, and many people seem to have an open dislike of foreigners; so that glance was perhaps was only a surface indication.

Then October 30th happened. I had come to the Kindergarten with a pumpkin for Halloween, the day pervious my boss had asked for a copy of my rental contract and so when I was called into an office I thought it was only for clarification. I was given a piece of paper, not even on company letterhead that said that I would no longer be working for the Kindergarten in two week’s time.

A truly panic inducing WTF moment.

In an angry, confused panic I asked to call corporate headquarters in Berlin and speak with a staff member who had been helping me with my paperwork since I accepted the contract in April. I got her on the phone and could not believe her demeanor. Instead of comforting me in this horrible hour she acted angry and said “you should be happy that we aren’t making you repay your flight.” The whole situation had me feeling like I had been stabbed at the centre of my heart but this unwanted response broke it.

I immediately began asking “why” and demanding to speak with corporate headquarters in Cologne and Berlin. When I asked my boss why this was happening she told me to ask corporate headquarters and when I asked them they told me to ask my boss. It was a complete runaround only further supported by the German notion of a ‘probezeit’ or probationary period where a company can refuse to continue a person’s employment for any reason at all and do not owe an explanation to anybody. The very worst part however: when they requested my housing contract the day previous it was to personally call my landlady and let her know that they were planning to wash their hands of me and therefore erase any housing liability/connection. Could the Kindergarten have been any more tasteless?! My land lady knew what was happening to me even before I did. Disgusting.

I continued to fight and annoy until I was invited personally to go to Cologne to speak with someone at corporate headquarters on November 5th. They refused to state any reason even in person, I honestly wanted to know because if I had done something I wanted to correct myself but it was also at that moment in the shadow of the magnificent Cologne Dom Church that I decided to a.) stop arguing, offering anything to stay with the arrogant morons who felt completely justified in their cowardice and just demand compensation and b.) do whatever I could to find new employment and stay in Germany---I was offered a month and half severance. Those fools actually thought I was just going to accept a note not even on company letterhead, cry and go back to the USA after a year of preparing for their game for over a year and only after two months of employment.

This response was fueled by a very empowering experience I had on the previous Sunday November 3rd.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EVER-HOPEFUL 3/9/2014 8:35AM

    hi sam love i will wait to reply till i read all three blogs emoticon

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