We moved to Germany at the end of February. One week later Italy announced their lockdown. Two weeks later Germany went into a mini-lockdown. One month later we sit in a lockdown enforced limbo. This is a bit of a life update and some ways we are dealing with expat life in lockdown.
Germany loves bureaucracy. There is a form for everything and everything has a form. It felt like all we did was paperwork before we left. And now that we are here, it feels like all we do is paperwork (and by ‘we’, I mean Daniel – bless him!). We had appointments here that related to appointments there, who’s success relied upon appointments we had elsewhere. This may be a slight exaggeration, but at the same time… it’s also not.
So when the bureaucratic system came to a halt, essentially so did our transition here. Luckily, we are both registered here (yes, in Germany you register with the municipality you live in). We can collect Daniel’s new ID (next month sometime when departments are open I guess). My appointment with the foreign office was the most important one. Here, I would renew visas and gain residence. This appointment was postponed… indefinitely.
We are somewhat stuck…
sitting in a country where employment is at a standstill, with the uncertainty of being here with a visa that may potentially expire, having travel restrictions everywhere (do I go back to SA? Can I get back to SA? If I leave, can I return?), and we far from family and friends.
Yet, we are so so grateful…
because we were able to safely move to Germany before the travel restrictions and lockdown were implemented, we have a place to stay where we aren’t paying full rent (thanks Oma and Opa!), we have savings to cover the basics for a bit, and time together to set out priorities for our start here. Daniel’s cousins visited us just before the lockdown so we were able to get our dose of face-to-face family time.
We are safe and healthy. Our family and friends are safe and healthy. And for that alone, we are blessed. We aren’t somewhat stuck but rather soundly safe.
5 Ways to Cope in Lockdown
We are actively doing these 5 things while dealing with expat life in lockdown. We genuinely hope they can help you too.
Another thing we are grateful for is that we have no major time zone difference with South Africa. We have stayed connected with family and friends. We appreciate every voice note, video call, and Skype call so much more. From listening to ‘mundane’ facts like what was eaten for lunch, to hearing about high cats breaking into houses – every story is loved and enjoyed.
Connect with people you speak to daily, and with those you rarely do. Share the everyday things and just speak on anything. Sometimes it’s nice just having a random chat over a cup of tea (or bottle of wine). Social distancing does not mean self-isolation.
Connect with everyone in your household. It is easy to fall into the Netflix hole and always seemingly being on your phone. Play games, build puzzles, camp in your living room, have meals around the table, and chat.
Work Out at Home
Leaving gym memberships behind meant home workouts were always a part of our future. So presently, we have our yoga mats and resistance bands. YouTube has thousands of workout and yoga videos waiting for you to watch them. I have been a subscriber of Boho Beautiful for a long time and her yoga/pilates videos are brilliant. Also, check out Mad Fit. Her workouts to popular songs are fire. Like literally your body will be on fire… and after this lockdown, I hope to finish her videos fully without dying every time. Let us know your go-to favourites and recommendations.
Okay, so this one may be more targeted to me but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it together! YouTube has channels and channels for you to learn German (or whichever language). Personally, I enjoy Easy German. Cari speaks clearly and the German script is given with the English translation. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments below! NOT Duolingo. Unless you have the basic grammar and tense rules down it’s not worth it.
Learn More About a Topic
Seriously, take the time you have to do the things you said you would ‘if you had the time’. We’re learning more about photography: lighting, framing, using different camera modes. Now we need to play a bit more with the camera and being confined to a flat may not be a bad thing – will definitely need to think more out of the box and not rely on beautiful scenery to make the photo. And hopefully will get onto editing soon.
Kind of regretting leaving my guitar behind; although it’s probably better for Daniel’s sanity that I don’t have it. We have seen people offering free online classes for painting and cooking. See what is out there and try something new.
The constant stress and negativity around us, and furthermore being confined to a flat/house, can take a mental toll on anyone. Practice gratitude every day. Think of a number of things you’re grateful for – 4, 8, 10. You can think it, say it, or write it down. You can be concise or elaborate on each point.
Start meditating. Whether it’s just you sitting down for 10 minutes or a guided meditation, having moments of stillness are important. Joy Truscott has started a 21 day Inner Journey on Zoom (put up on YouTube after) that you can be a part of too.
Focus on maintaining a positive perspective – you’re not locked down (no freedom), you’re locked in (safe); you have time to reconnect with yourself (exercise and meditation) and with your family and friends (cook the same meal and eat it together over a video call).
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
We wish you health and peace during the lockdown. You have time to be and do all that you have been putting off. This expat life in lockdown is not how we ever imagined our new start to be. But we are looking for all the hidden treasures that life is offering us now. We hope you can too.