How I embraced my new Life in Seasons

Last year ( June 2016) was the start of my life in seasons and this month is the mark of my 1 year stay here in Germany.Yes, time flies, it goes fast.

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Expat Life in Germany : Enjoying outdoors and getting active

I’m into running lately and the other day, I went for a run and as I chilled down in the garden, my husband commented : “You’re running now, you’re like the Germans..” I laughed and replied : I”m also like the Dutch, I cycle now more.. a lot…also I eat potatoes and sausages more than I eat rice”.

Mind you, I grow up in a completely different topography, climate of only 2 seasons– rainy and summer with a humidity that can make your blood boil.First time that I’ve seen a real snow in my life was last year in AustriaThis alone makes a whole lot reason why my Expat Life now in Germany is a life-changing one. For those of you who are following my Expat Blog stories, I am sure you’ve read in my posts and seen in photos how I embraced all these changes in my life. Ironically,  seeing all the different seasons here have changed me, at least from the way I look at life right now.

“Just like  seasons…people change..”

Now I  dressed differently and more functional, totally very -German-like, always prepared for the rain. I totally learned how to dress myself for what the weather calls for, every single day. I never imagined before that I needed separate jackets for winter, for summer, and spring or fall. All the heavy bundles of winter clothing and never-ending layers…and shoes for walking, trekking, hiking and for snow. My life before from 50 degrees Celsius  heat to frigid negative temps is something that I always recall and laugh how I’ve learned to appreciate each moment. Sometimes I feel that the weather really affects the way I go about my day.Can you relate?

I realized that just as the seasons are important in the nature’s cycle, it is also important in my own life.My days before were only composed of rains and heat, humid, stormy and for quite sometime, a scorching summer and delirious dust storms.

The thing is, experiencing a life in seasons is totally different when you only see it while visiting another country.  It’s another story when you’re just a tourist and wanting to experience snow in Winter compared to actually living in it everyday. The cold, long German winters and fickle weather drives me nuts but now I get used to it. I guess that if you’re an Expat like me, you would agree that adjusting in new seasons is always part of any Expat life.

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My first sights of Cherry Blossoms in Bavaria and in the Netherlands. Definitely a very beautiful first season of blossoms.

The current season of my life now is Spring ( or Frühling) , a few more weeks and comes Summer. I had the privilege to enjoy Spring to the fullest by seeing it in full Dutch colors, and that was made possible by visiting Keukenhof Gardens last Easter in the Netherlands. I really love tulips but they are very expensive  both in Manila &  Kuwait, it’s very rare to find it, sold  only in big flower shops. In Holland, they are an ordinary sight, like weeds, growing in every household and empty spaces.Before, I only feast my eyes on it in internet or in magazines and thought they were so beautiful to be real. Seeing all the spring flowers in bloom and watching how the plants & trees regain their ‘life‘ made me understand about the time of recreating myself, first allowing the growth to pinch in, so I can be a better ‘Me’ . Spring is a beautiful season where I rekindled my passion for drawing and painting. It’s like a part of me had resurrected and my dreams were completely infused with colors.

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Nature never fails to amaze me.This beauty is one of the early blooms in Spring in Germany along with the yellow Daffodils in our garden.

I believe that Spring is the season in our life of new growth. It is the period of our lives where we clear out the old to make way for the new. It is a time where we create new beginnings for ourselves and our lives.

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Summer adventure : Trekking the crater of  a Volcano in on one fine Summer day last year.

Then comes Summer. I arrived in Germany last summer. The heat without AC is also something I got used to. A 30+ degrees heat can also be  toasty here.Germans love the sun, oftentimes sunbathing and swimming. Germany is pretty in a sunny day with lots of outdoor activity to enjoy. Summer season is the return of the Dandelions, like a season to enjoy ourselves. It is a time sitting in Biergartens ( Beer gardens) , grilling and BBQ parties in the garden! During this period we feel bright and happy.

We are loving life and reaping the rewards for the positive changes that we have made.

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Discovering nature: The Echinops Ritro and wasps are a typical sight during Summer in Germany

Last summer after I left Kuwait and before going to Germany, I squeezed some time to visit my family in Philippines and let them see my daughter for the first time. I managed to get some adventure with my friends by hiking and trekking along the crater of a Volcano. It was a long time dream as well. I missed home and my island -hopping adventures . Summer has always been my favorite season, but not much during summer months in Kuwait and Ramadan period.  Summer in Germany has been a fascinating one as well. The 9 PM sunsets are always magical, long summer days gives us more time to wander around. I discover the Bavarian lifestyle and the enigma of Biergartens, German sausages and lots of outdoors. I tasted new dishes and explore our new home like crazy. I can’t get enough of the thought realizing that I am eating my dinner while the sky is still bright where in other parts of the world, it would be pitch-black already.

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Nothing beats summer sunsets, especially when seen behind bodies of water. I have watched numerous sunsets here in Bavaria where the sun turns the sky in pink and orange glory .Summer was and would always be a happy season in my life.

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Catching some amazing sky one fine Autumn in Bavaria

Oh then there comes Fall. Another first time for me .

I love all the nostalgic feelings I had watching the trees lost its leaves and everything just turned into golden, yellow rustic beauty. The sound of the crisp dried leaves when I walked on them is so therapeutic.The views in our old town is breathtaking during Fall. I have been obsessing in photography and its a time I appreciate nature even more. I have indulged myself in baking Apple pies and my first carving of a real pumpkin. My daughter enjoyed her first trick or treat, Fasching & Halloween here in Germany. I struggled with the language barrier and tried to integrate into the German culture so hard that everyday seems like a hurdle for me to overcome. Another life-changing experience was cycling with my daughter, another first time for me and having a taste of  Oktoberfest by seeing our local Herbstfest here in Ingolstadt. The Beer culture of Germany is really a pride and Bavarian culture is truly unique in this region. I love everything about the traditional German Tracht– Lederhosen and Dirndls!

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The pride and beauty of Traditional German Tracht ( Dirndls)

Autumn is the season of our life where change occurs and we need to let go of the old. During this period of our life we recognise and feel the need for change in our lives. In order for us to change we need to let go of things from our old self, just like the leaves falling from a tree. We may for example need to let go of negative feelings, bitterness, the past, limiting beliefs and traditions,and the most important — limiting forgiveness.

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One of my favorite photos of the beautiful Autumn  here in Bavaria
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A pavement of old self…giving way to a new season.

It was never easy. It is hard integrating into a new culture, especially when I can’t express fully what I want since I don’t know German yet.  I know that failure to let go causes me to remain stuck in my  life and hinders any positive change.  I needed to shred  my old self to finally give in to a new me, and Oh yes, I got my Aufenhaltstitel! I am now holding a legal and official  residency here in Germany. Just like the trees that undergoes harsh pruning time during Fall, their leaves must fall in order for them to grow. Pruning time comes in a natural way.

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My new life starts here…Bavaria, the land of Lederhosen & Dirndls, where the River Danube flows–my second home.
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Nostalgic moments in One fine sunset in Souk Sharq in Kuwait

This photo shows one of my favorite places in Kuwait. This was taken by my friend who made our wedding photos. This is the dock where the traditional ‘Dhows’ and fishing boats lazily docked after a busy fishing day. Just like the orange-red skies during Autumn in Germany, Kuwait has beautiful skies approaching Ramadan season. Remembering ‘Ramadan’ and my life back in Kuwait makes me grateful that I have the chance to see the best of both worlds.

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My first view of the great mountain, Alps in Austria.

Then comes Winter.

I was not really looking forward to the cold. I don’t even have winter clothes.My first Winter Wonderland experience in Austria has been unforgettable as well as exciting as we welcome the New Year . When I told my husband that its my first time to experience snow and winter, He really made sure to bring  me to a place where I had an unforgettable snow-coma! It was a pleasure seeing my daughter eating and jumping in snow for the first time .My first Winter is totally unexpected, exhilarating, freezing, but then it changed my views about snow and the long cold winter days.Do you know how hard it is to push a stroller in snow? or walk into an icy street that shouts “Achtung, glatteis!”

Honestly, I like snow, but not the cold. The cold makes me feel depressed and very un-motivated to do anything. Everywhere you see is white, gloomy and my feet is freezing plus the stress of dressing up a toddler in heavy winter clothes is always a struggle!

Winter is the season where we experience challenges and difficulties in our life. It can feel like a cold and lonely time. Our life may appear bleak. We may be dealing with storms in our life which creates fear and anxiety for us. However, we need periods of winter in our lives.

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Watching frozen berries with the Alps in the background.

These winter times provide us with important learning and understanding. It is through the challenges and difficulties in life that we learn our most valuable lessons. Winter also helps us to appreciate and be grateful for what we have. Without periods of winter in our lives we can take for granted all of the goodness that we experience.

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Christkindlmarkt ( Christmas market) and my first Christmas in Germany.

My first Christmas market experience, our first Christmas in Germany and my first time to make snow man with my daughter makes this season a festive one.This is also the season where I got so sick, both me and my daughter had colds, flu, and we felt like the grey winter is totally dampening our moods. Another highlight is the time when we walked on top of a frozen lake  which is  so nerve-wrecking !

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There is a time and a season for everything…

Indeed, time flies and I realized that soon, by next summer, at the end of this month, I will be 1 year here, I will be a year older, wiser, and integrating fully in my new culture and loving life in new intensity. I feel so much more at home now here, because I embrace the changes, I let myself grow. I have come to love “Ordnung“( or Order ).

Every season has special memories that makes me the person that I am now.

Any thoughts on this post? Have you ever relocated to another country? How was your experience? Are you also affected by the seasons?

 

 

A Sandstorm experience in Kuwait

I often asked our office janitor why he doesn’t clean the windows. He replied : ” Its no use, it will be dusty again tomorrow “. It makes sense, right?

One word to describe Kuwait is Sandstorms (also known in Arabic as Shamal ).  Its plural because they come more often especially during Summer. After years of living here, I realized that its not only on the culture aspect an Expat get a shock, but also on the weather. If you are an Expat in Kuwait I am sure you know what I’m talking about.

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“A huge ‘wall of sand’ engulfs a city in Kuwait. This type of sandstorm is also known as ‘haboob’, derived from the Arabic word for ‘strong wind’ (Photo Credit: Rizalde Cayanan)”

The weather in Kuwait is arid, dust is part of the air you breathe when its dusty, literally. This is the practical & functional reasons why Arab men wear Ghutra & Dishdasha and women wore Niqab, Burqa, Hijab & Abayas. These type of clothing serves as protection from the harsh winds, dust & heat. The weather is totally extreme. When its hot, its really HOT. And when its dry winter, temperatures during this time could reach 0° C. The highest ever temperature recorded in Kuwait was 53.8 °C (128.8 °F) at Sulaibiya on July 31, 2012 which is the highest recorded temperature in Asia and also the third highest in the world. Try to imagine how people deal with this heat during Ramadan.

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Arab men wearing Ghutra as protection from strong winds & dust
My first experience of Sandstorm is still very vivid. I was at work when it happened. It was already a bit dusty and windy but around 7am the sky slowly turning into grey, into dark brown, into light orange, and suddenly it was really dark. I could hear the loud sound of the wind gushing through the windows & banging in the doors. I couldn’t see anything from the large window in my office.  I don’t have a smartphone yet during that time so I wasn’t able to capture it . It lasted for a few minutes and gradually it started to clear again. The dusty weather lasted for about 3-4 days. In some cases, it could last longer. Throughout the day, its dusty so everywhere in the building is dusty.

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Low Visibility during Sandstorm in Kuwait
I remember one time that while we are on the road, we cannot see further and the cars need to stop. I felt different emotions during those times. I felt sick, suffocated, surprised, amazed and yet excited to see all of these happening before my eyes. It was all new to me.

But then I get used to it eventually through the years. When I noticed from the window that its dusty, I brought an extra scarf and I have mask when going to work. I have learned to accept that it’s part of life here. When its dusty weather, you can’t enjoy outdoors. You cancel your plans. Nobody wants to walk outside while its raining dust. It could drain you physically as well as its not healthy to expose yourself into it. The funny thing is, its very common that its dusty on weekends, I don’t know why.

Here’s an interesting piece about Sandstorms in Kuwait.

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This photo was  taken in Kuwait during sandstorm &  was shortlisted from over 10,000 entries for the competition, Environmental Photographer of the Year award. For us who are used to this view, this view is quite normal  but to the majority of the world it looks exceptional and scary. In total , they have 111 photos that have been selected and they all tell a unique story. There’s a website just for this award you can check out [here].

Travel Tip :

Just in case you have plans to move to Kuwait, make sure you have a decent bandana, scarf or mask in your luggage. You will need it. When you arrive in Kuwait between April ~October, I tell you, it is HOT. You will already be sweating once you reached the carpark so make sure you dress light.

How about you, Do you have any weather shock story ?