Quote of the Day

You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.

– Winston Churchill –

Springtime in Germany

Quote of the Day

No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor is given by what he gave.

– Calvin Coolidge –

Quote of the Day

Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.

– Sherry Anderson –

You will find more information on National Volunteer Week Celebrations for different countries, if you visit Energizeinc.

Volunteering at a Library

At dinner time, my husband mentioned the opportunity to earn Creativity-Action-Service (CAS) points working at the international school’s library to our daughter Margo.

Every year, upper schoolers have to collect 20 points in each section and working at the library would supply her with enough points to cover her service requirement for the year.

She was not too enthusiastic about the idea, so we tried to persuade her a bit and I ended by telling her this personal story. If her father had not worked at a library in the U.S., her brother would not have been born in Japan.

My husband, then a college student, supplemented  our no-income status by working weekends at the college library. The year was 1990, and the recession would soon reach its peak.

As  a young wife, without a work permit yet, I was too bored to stay home on weekend nights and went to the library myself. Books are my best friends.

At the library, I met my very best Japanese friend, Nobuko. Through her, we learned more about Japan and its need for English teachers. She pointed out  an ad posted by the Japanese embassy in the library’s foyer, looking for teachers to join the Japanese Exchange Teaching (JET) program. With both of us intrigued by Nobuko’s tales about Japan, my husband applied and got accepted.

Off we went to Japan, specifically Kitakyushu on the most southern island of Kyushu in Japan, where we lived and worked for three years.

Hence,  her brother Thomas was born there.

Boshi techo - the Japanese maternity book

More about the boshi techo on Comprehensive Living Guide for Foreign Residents in Japan.

Anyway,  libraries are wonderful places of discovery for like-minded patrons, wonderful books, peace and quietness, making new friends, and straying off the beaten path.

How to Smooth Transitions

I used to think that moving here to Germany would mark the end of my transition process. I was wrong in my belief as our international environment constantly keeps changing. Being an expat family requires continuous adjustment to new circumstances and after a few years we just got so used to it without realizing how often we still adjust.

The beginning of each new school year reminds us of the changes we need to make for another smooth transition. There will be newly hired teachers, some of whom I will never get to meet (except by e-mail). New classmates for my children, some of whom I might get to know by name at the end of the school year – just before they move away again. Private students change their lesson times as they start other projects. Friends move overseas, with some of our older ones already having left for retirement. Every year, there are Goodbye parties and Welcome Back parties.

Toytown Germany (with a very helpful platform I can recommend) probably has more newcomers posting their queries at this time of year, but transitions take place all year long. I have come to realize that we can stay put in one place, but our surroundings keep moving, affecting us with their sometimes challenging transitions.

Here is a little piece of advice I had given a while ago to a newcomer to the Frankfurt area (most likely applicable to non-working spouses):

If you have some financial security (e.g. no real pressure to find work right away), then I would suggest volunteering at first. This is what I did three times when moving overseas. I started volunteering two hours a week, made contacts, learned more about the city, got job offers soon after.
Places to volunteer: Frankfurt soup kitchen, hospitals, maybe the British Women’s Club of the Taunus, contact the “International Stammtisch at the English Theatre”, etc.
Teaching assistants do not get paid well. For part-time work at the international schools, the pay is about € 400 a month. Again, any job could help lead to more lucrative ones.
I frequently post available positions at Frankfurt International School on my blog category Vacancies at Frankfurt International School which also include teaching assistant positions. This is for you only to learn what is out there.
… and try to learn some German before coming here. Others have said that before and this is the best advice.

You may also want to read my initial post, with more details:  How to Smooth Transitions

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