Now it's already been two months since we moved from Munich to Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv. And I think we can say that we've arrived. We all got our visas into the passports, the basic furniture is bought and (mostly) built up, the first people came to visit us. And we're having something you can call everyday life. The thing many want to get away from but that we were longing for, because it gives you a structure to build upon. Annika and the kids got there faster, because I had to go back to Germany twice in September. This made me a bit absent from the family life, which was expected but hard to swallow. Now it feels that we are there. But what changed?
The school & kindergarten
The biggest change for the family was the change of the school and kindergarten. In our kindergarten here they take preschool more seriously. Niklas (5 years old) is playfully learning basic reading, writing and numbers. He likes the challenge and gets more confident by the day. Even though thinking of Niklas going to an English speaking kindergarten made me nervous, it wasn't a problem. I think part of it is due to the fact that it's an international kindergarten and every kid knows the situation of starting in a new environment. The first day when Niklas was sad and crying a bit, another kid came and said: "Hey Nicolas, come and play with me". And there wasn't any big issue anymore after that. While the atmosphere in the kindergarten is pretty similar to Germany, the school is quite different. It feels like they ask more of the kids in terms of building their own opinion. Social studies, science, language arts don't exist in the same way in Germany. The classes are small, the teachers less strict and the curriculum more ambitious. Music plays a bigger role. Learning violin in school and guitar in an extra lesson makes a huge difference I think. One difference in school that Linnéa noticed was that they never group by gender. She said it's so nice that we have mixed groups of friends as it's much more fun. Linnéa found a good friend, who is actually Finnish. The funny thing is, that he doesn't speak Swedish and Linnéa doesn't speak Finnish, so their only common language is English. What a motivation. ;) Coming to the next big change:
When we made plans of leaving Germany we started with English lessons for Niklas and Linnéa, just in case the move would work out. We didn't feel that it helped so much. But once we started here we saw the result. Linnéa could follow the lessons from the start. The only thing she complained about after the first week was that even though she'd understand the others, it would be hard to say something, because the active language was missing. Now listening to her speaking, seeing her writing whatsapp messages to her friends, it seems that this period is already over. The teacher was surprised that she basically didn't know any English before she started here. What a compliment. Niklas jumped into the new task easier than expected and could communicate fast. When Annika asked him how he does that, he gave some really interesting insight into his learning strategy. "You know mom", he answered in Swedish, "I teach myself. For example a kid kicked a toy train of another kid and the other one shouted: 'Hey, you kicked my train'. And then I knew what kick and train means." A proof of his development I witnessed myself. When I picked him up one day, he wanted to continue to listen to a story the teacher was telling and so he asked me in German if that would be OK. When I said yes, then he went to his teacher stating: "My dad said I can listen to the story." I'm impressed how it's proceeding and how they are adapting.
Politics aside, as we knew what we were getting into, having the beach close by and the sun every day does something with you, I believe. It feels like luxury and overall the life quality here is so much higher than in Munich. We learn, absorb and fall in love with this place. The people are so nice, direct and helpful. Annika noted that she feels that the people here are much more similar to the Finns than the Germans, due to little formality, direct communication and partially brutal honesty. It's so much fun to explore, to start to learn the language and to experience so much more under the surface, now as we arrived.