Monday, April 25, 2011

The Parentals

As I type this, my parents are headed to the airport- without the GPS- so let's hope they find it! They left the GPS "Emily" with me because I have another trip coming up in a few weeks to Wales that will require it! We have had a really fun trip and I am sad to see them go- but I will be there in just over a month so I think I will make it!

Lunch at The Royal Standard of England.
It has been an alcohol-serving establishment of some kind
for over 900 years. They have GREAT food!
I am an excellent trip planner, if I do say so myself! We had 9.5 days and I tried to fill it with a lot, (but not too many because who likes that?) things to do! We started the trip just hanging around the area of England where I've been living since August (minus that three month stint in France!) and of course, had to start with a lunch in a country pub. When I posted this picture to Facebook, everyone was freaking out about how large the beers were, but I will just remind you that they are only a pint, but they are in Pilsner glasses so they appear bigger.

One of the things I have loved about living in England are the country pubs. Most of them have excellent food, lots of good beer, and a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere. At this particular pub we were actually seated in a bay window and so we had our own little nook! The Sunday Roast consists of either beef, lamb, or pork with many, many side dishes. The big puffs of bread are called Yorkshire Puddings. They are delish!! I'd rather go out for a roast as it just seems like WAY too much work to make all of the side dishes on the same day and have them ready at the same time.

There are cute little towns and villages about every three feet in England and so we were able to tour around to see many of the ones in my area. This was also the first full day of driving on the other side of the road. As it turned out, my dad did all of the driving because
Old church in the town of Beaconsfield.
The English pronounce it "Beckensfield." I
I could live here my whole life and never pronounce
things correctly on a consistent basis!
it was extra-expensive to have two drivers. I am extremely grateful for this as I think it seems pretty stressful to just train your brain suddenly to the other side of the road- but my dad did a GREAT job!

My parents stayed at a bed and breakfast near my house, which really, turned out to be just an extra room in someone's house that they now rent out. Chesham is not really a metropolis for tourists and so the options are rather limited for guests. If they had stayed with me, we would have all had to sleep in the same bed, and so I think the bed and breakfast, though completely no frills, was the better option! :)

We spent a lot of the first day just driving around looking at the areas around my town. Since I haven't had a car while living here, I basically don't know where anything is and if we hadn't had Emily the GPS (she is called Emily because the British female voice is named Emily), we never would have even made it home from the airport.
When being a tourist in England, I believe it is
required by law that one must pose in or around
a red phone box!

I believe the law also states that you must take
pictures with all combinations of tourists present.

Our next three days we spent touring a part of England called The Cotswolds. The Cotswolds were the center of the wool industry in Britain before the colonies began growing cotton. Because of the wool industry, many people were able to get very rich and so there are many grand houses in the area. I had been to the Cotswolds once before because my Uncle Abdul's (married to my dad's sister, JoAnn) brother and family live there. After going to visit them in November, I knew that I had to return because it is such a beautiful area. My biggest problem is that I began to run out of synonyms for cute and adorable because everything was so cute and adorable! 

Blenheim Palace.
Our first stop in the Cotswolds.
Our first stop in the Cotswolds was Blenheim Palace (pronouced Blennem Palace, of course) which was given to a war hero in the 1600s-ish by Queen Anne. Later in that same family's history, they also produced Winston Churchill. So, this palace is now known for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill- his uncle was the Duke of Marlborough who owned the house. There was an excellent exhibit on Winston Churchill and they even had his curly locks that were cut off around age 5. He was a very interesting person and after seeing the exhibit, it makes me want to know more about him!

After our stop at Bleheim Palace we continued to a village called Woodstock which is only about a mile away to have "High Tea!" As usual (is this true for everyone or just my fat-ass self?) a vacation revolves around food so we had to have High Tea just once. I found a 700 year old hotel in Woodstock and we had scones with clotted cream and strawberries, cucumber sandwiches, and a few pots of delicious English tea.
I made sure to practice the proper etiquette and put out my pinky!

High Tea comes on tiered plates and was super-delish!
The next few days we toured around the adorably cute (see...need synonyms!) villages in the Cotswolds while staying in a village called Kingham, about 1/2 mile from where our relatives live. I stayed at the same B & B back in November and was even in the same room again! We visited several country houses that were more than 500 years old, gardens, and drove on roads that were basically only slightly wider than the car itself with hedges on each side! Again, glad my dad was driving!

Onc of the adorably cute villages in The Cotswolds.
All of the buildings were made of limestone which annoyingly
reminded me of when I had to teach that stupid unit
"Products from Rocks."

One of the country houses we visited- Great Chalfied Manor.
It was completed in the 1480s and had amazing gardens.
But, even on a sunny day, it was FREEZING inside!

The Cotswolds are still a big sheep-raising area despite the fact that wool isn't the world's #1 fabric anymore. Everywhere around there were cute little lambs standing by their mamas out in the fields. Yet another thing I like about England is the BBC. There is such delightful nerd TV on and the other day I saw a show called "Lambing Live" where they just go to a farm and show lots of lambs being born. A little bit gross but after they are all cleaned off they are SO adorable. For as hot as it has been in the last week (low 80s) I think these sheep are ready to have their coats off! I know I wouldn't want to be wearing a wool coat in 80 degree weather!

I think the best purchase we've ever made was to buy this GPS. If we hadn't had this thing, there is NO WAY we would have made it through this trip.
"Please turn right on ROAD."
Thanks for being so specific, Emily the GPS.
Without it, we would have all been yelling at each other and stressed out from trying to get around on the tiny tiny tiny roads that were only one-car wide. Sometimes the roads were so remote that Emily wouldn't even know their names and she would just tell us to turn on "Road." The funny thing to us was when we'd make a wrong turn (usually we'd get off the wrong exit on a roundabout!) and she'd freak out and start yelling about RECALCULATING but in a polite English accent. We started the trip with the American voice but Jill was a disaster at pronouncing the English names (I can relate!) and so we had to switch over to Emily.

After our lovely three days in the Cotswolds- where I would gladly live if I could just be rich and never have to work- (as opposed to now where I don't work but I am poor!) we headed back toward Chesham but HAD to stop at Stonehenge on the way home.

Unlike when the Griswolds visited Stonehenge, you cannot actually walk up to it anymore! This is probably a good thing as apparently people were chipping off pieces of it! Fortunately, also unlike the Griswolds, we didn't have the opportunity to back the car into it- the parking lot is actually pretty far! Not to be blassé, but Stonehenge was actually smaller than I thought it was going to be and while there, I wasn't completely overwhelmed and freaking out like I thought I might be. I am aware that very few things ever live up to their hype (except the Taj Mahal which TOTALLY did!) but it was still pretty cool nonetheless. Because I am a complete dork, I had downloaded a National Geographic special on it that we watched the night before so that we would be completely prepared. The current thinking is that this was a monument to the ancestors and they've discovered a large road to "Woodhenge" which was the same shape but was likely the monument to the living. My dad listened to the audio commentary and shared out what it was saying as my mom and I were too lazy and couldn't be bothered!

Ever since I had the picture taken were I was holding up the Taj Mahal,
my dad and I are obsessed with trying to do this again.
Apparently a piece Stonehenge was trying to float away,
good thing he is holding it down! 
Since my parents have been to London lots of times before having only lived about 45 minutes from it for three years, we only spent one day there. But, we still managed to see a lot! Everything is totally decked out for the Royal Wedding and the entire long street in front of Buckingham Palace is closed while they finish constructing all of the media tents to film the procession and the "wave" from the balcony! This time, we took a boat tour to Greenwich and then walked around finally ending up at Harrods, the giant store. I personally enjoyed the crystal chandelier section of the store- you don't see a section like that at very many department stores!
Senior picture in London.

My parents are always more than obliging of my senior
picture antics and in fact, they sometimes seek the locations
for me and even for their own! In Maryland, we didn't do the cheesy
outdoor senior pictures so I think that I've more than made up for that
in the last 15 years.

We share the same name and we are not amused!
The souvenirs for the Royal Wedding are out in full force and I just couldn't resist (this was my mom and dad's idea- I swear) taking this picture! I heard that the Queen waves as she does so as not to have her upper arms (her batwings as I call them!) jiggle. Good idea. I'm totally going to start waving like that and I will speak of myself in the "Royal We" from now on.

I am sure the souvenir situation will only escalate after the wedding so if there is anything people want, you've got a month to tell me! My pending visitors may be lucky enough to receive some Kate and Will playing cards! In the newspaper yesterday, there was an article with odds for betting on which tiara Kate Middleton would wear. Hilarious. I know that it is cheesy but it is really fun being here during this festive time as the whole country is decked out in Union Jack flags. The street party after the wedding in my town is called "C.R.O.W.D." which stands for the Chesham Royal Wedding Do. I love it! We are going to have a garden party in the backyard with Coronation Chicken, cucumber sandwiches, and the most English of summer drinks- Pimms & Lemonade. Pimms is like a brandy or something similar and it is delicious when mixed with lemonade (which is really Sprite to Americans).

I had such a fun time with my parents and I was really sad to see them go! I cried, big shock. But, I will see them on June 3rd when I arrive back in the US. And, they are already planning to come visit me in October in Germany where we are looking into taking a several day cruise on the Rhine River. FUN TIMES!

The next two weeks until my friend Nicole arrives I am going to be working on packing up all of my stuff and sending it to Germany! And then, Nicole and I are going to the Scottish Highlands for a few days before we full-on power tourist it up in London! She has all sorts of fun things planned that she wants to do including seeing Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and taking a ghost walk of London.

I just had to show a picture of the most complicated roundabout of all time!
Each small circle is a roundabout within a giant roundabout.
Our American brains just about exploded and Emily the GPS yelled
at us a few times because we made some wrong turns!

And, to end this, I must say thank you to my parents for such an amazing trip! You guys are awesome and I love you!!!

And finally, what would a blog post be without a picture of Felix.

Felix was naughty. He got drunk. It was hot and the beer was just so
delicious and cold! BAD FELIX! I wonder if he'll like the whiskey in
Scottish Highlands? Can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dutch? NO! Danish!

Ida Marie Hansen & Lauritz Svendsen (changed to Swanson
at Ellis Island). This is where the story begins!
I just spent the weekend in Denmark visiting my cousins there but in order to really tell this story, I have to start at the beginning because I find it pretty remarkable!

In 1892, Ida Marie Hansen left the island of Langeland in Denmark and set out for the US leaving behind a portion of her large family- including sisters and brothers. Ida Marie Hansen was my great-grandmother on my dad's side and upon arrival in Omaha, she met my great-grandfather, also from Denmark. Ida Marie and Laurence (his first name was change at Ellis Island too) had many children, including my grandfather, Merrill. That is a common story, really- Scandinavian immigrants settle in the Midwest and buy a farm- they ended up in Western Iowa- and have many children. To me, the remarkable part is that someone in the family managed to continue communicating with the family left in Denmark- now for almost 120 years!  I think this is where my deep love for Garrison Keillor and "A Prairie Home Companion" comes from- he is Norwegian, from Minnesota, and Lutheran- while my family is Danish, from Iowa, and Presbyterian...hilariously parallel!

We're not totally sure who did all this letter writing but we are sure glad they did! Fast forward to the 1970s and that's when the visiting really began- 80 years after the original immigration and long after both of my great-grandparents were dead. My parents took my grandparents to visit Denmark in 1977 and that's where we saw the extent of the connections- there are a lot of relatives on both sides! The Danish side came over to visit the farm in Iowa and now with the ease of international travel, Facebook, and email, we are all able to see each other with relative frequency.

Frode is holding the cutting board made by my grandpa,
Merril in the 1970s. Everyone in the family has one!
So, our current connections get really confusing because our common relative was pretty far back- but if you look at this picture- Frode (on the left) and his brother are actually just my dad's second cousins- their grandmothers were sisters. So, I guess it is not TOO far away.

So, now the connections continue down the generations and Frode & Ida's (far right in the picture) children and grandchildren have been to visit us many times and we have been to visit them a few times too- this is who I stayed with on my last two visits. I know this all sounds very confusing, but I just wanted to provide a little context to this. Basically, I just think it is really cool and not very common that families with immigration more than 100 years ago still manage to keep in touch- although now, with modern communication methods, it sure is a lot easier to stay in touch!
Bent, Lisbeth, Me, Nina Camilla, and Selma, the lab.
We visited Kronborg Palace- which is where Hamlet is set.
So, now the rest of the family that I actually know and see in Denmark (there are tons and tons that I met only once in 1999 and probably more that I don't know!) are Lisbeth, her husband Bent, and their kids Nina Camilla (19) and Terese (16). However, Terese is studying in the US right now outside of Boston so I didn't get to see her this trip. However, she is coming to visit Colorado so I'll see her before her parents do!

We had a great visit with lots of laughs and plenty of Carlsberg beer since Lisbeth works there and gets two large crates free every month! I was really lucky that for most of the trip there was sun- I actually even got sunburned while I was there! This was my first trip to Denmark outside of the summer and so I was nervous what the weather would entail- although after living in rainy, rainy England for 9 months, I shouldn't have been that worried. I am not sure I will ever get over Colorado sun in my whole life- no matter where I live, the weather will always suck compared to Colorado!

Now for some pictures from the trip! Everyone had to work on the weekdays I was there but we packed a lot into the weekend.
View  of the fjord from my cousins' house in Roskilde- about 25
minutes by train from Copenhagen.

For two days, I toured Copenhagen and then on the weekend we went to visit some castles, saw Sweden from across the water, and visited Lisbeth's parents, Frode and Ida. I love Denmark. I must say that I got a little sad that I wasn't moving there instead of Düsseldorf- a large part of that is because I have family there- and I LOVE that there are bike lanes EVERYWHERE and it is realistic part of life that you can ride a bike everywhere and not get run over by a car because drivers actually look for bikes. Although, I believe the bike situation is the same in Germany so that's nice.

Took a tour of the Carlsberg Brewery, where Lisbeth works.
They still deliver beer around Copenhagen with horse-drawn carriages.

Some of the horses at Carlsberg.
They were standing in a medicinal foot treatment and were enormous.

Carlsberg also owns Tuborg and this really reminded me of India so
I had to sit in it. When we rode in a bike rickshaw in India, the driver groaned
from the weight of my friend Lisa and me- that was great for the old self-esteem!
One of the coolest parts about visiting Roskilde, where my cousins live, is that in the fjord there were many Viking ships found sunken in the water. So, they were brought up and reconstructed and Roskilde has a huge Viking Ship Museum and an outdoor center where they build modern versions based on the old designs. It is pretty amazing to think that the Vikings sailed to Canada in a wooden boat! CRAZY!

This large ship was reconstructed and actually sailed to Ireland by a group of
international volunteers!

This is the large ship from above actually on its way to Ireland.
Now imagine sailing in this all the way to NewFoundland. No thank you. 

Viking boats of all sizes have been reconstructed to sail around the fjord.
This was such a beautiful day that I think half the population of the town was outside eating ice cream!

Lisbeth, me, and Nina Camilla at Frederiksborg Castle outside of Copenhagen.
A huge portion was restored with money from Carlsberg so we got free entry- why do beer companies give so many better perks than schools? No fair!!

The castle is from the mid-1500s. So beautiful!

Felix went too. He REALLY likes castles.

Taking my turn as the Queen of Denmark. Not likely I am going to find out that I am related to Danish royalty as pretty much everyone in my family was a farmer for hundreds and hundreds of years!

An elevator for the king! So cool! It was a trap door in the floor!

The main hall inside the castle. Gorgeous!
 I walked around a lot of Copenhagen for two days and think it is such a beautiful city. But, one of my favorite parts of visiting Denmark is that they are the home of Legos! My dad and I went to Legoland in 1999 and it was super cool! This was just a lego store- but they had this really cool thing where you could design your own Lego-guy/girl on a computer and then they had all the parts and you could build it!
This Lego sculpture was taller than me and SUPER cool!
Here are a few more pictures from around Copenhagen.

Nyhavn (New Harbor) is one of the famous sights of Copenhagen.
Apparently it used to be a swarthy sailor area in the past!

The Queen's house in Copenhagen.
You can walk right up to it, unlike at Buckingham Palace.

I'll post the rest of the pictures of Facebook since blogger has decided that I am done posting pictures! Now, I wait three more days and my parents come! I am so excited to see them! We've got a great trip planned and I think we'll have a great time- and a little stress as I will be driving the rental car on the wrong side of the road!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ich muss wirklich anfangen, Deutsch zu lernen. Jetzt.

I am back from Düsseldorf and would say that it was a very successful trip overall! I met all the key players at my new school, toured the city using public transportation, and most importantly, found an apartment! I guess I'll break this post down into the essentials of what I figured out while I was there. 


This is the balcony in the summer. It is 15 m X 3 m
and will be like an extra room when the weather is nice.
 My apartment is a one bedroom, 750 square feet, furnished place located in the Golzheim area of Düsseldorf. Now, 750 square feet (70 square meters) might not sound like a lot to people with actual houses, but it is bigger than my house in Fort Collins by almost 50 square feet! So, for me, it will be plenty big. And, it will be able to accommodate guests who can even have their own bed! 

It is on the seventh floor (with an elevator) and a basement storage room that is big enough to store a bike (which comes with the apt) and anything else I accumulate, which, knowing me, will be a lot of crap. I'm glad I won't have to store my skis in the kitchen like in my FC house! And, I might even be able to be organized enough to change out my winter and summer wardrobes from storage to my closet. Doubtful, unless my friends Tami and Natalie come visit and systematically organize me like they have done for my classroom in the past! 

Golzheim is a neighborhood just north of the main downtown area of Düsseldorf and it is on one of the main tram lines. It will only take me 5 minutes to walk to the tram and then a 10 minute ride to school. In the other direction, it is a 10 minute ride to downtown where there is pretty awesome shopping (even couture if I suddenly win the lottery and drop half my body weight), and most importantly, lots of restaurants, bars, cafés, and people. Though I do enjoy quiet, dark neighborhood pubs with "regulars," sometimes it is nice to get to see a variety of people. I really like the location as I wanted to be in a quiet neighborhood that was easily accessible to both work and downtown. I am also glad that it is on the seventh floor so that I won't be bothered by street noise like I am here in England. After living on the manoir in France, out in the country with blackout shutters, living on a busy street with street lamps outside is like never having nighttime. 
YAY for my own place again!

I am basically buying the entire apartment's contents from the previous occupant who is a teacher at ISD too. She is just moving to a different apartment but she is buying the furniture at her new apartment. It will then all belong to me and if I want to change it, I can. The couch is brand new- half the "L" is a bed while the other half has storage under the cushions. The kitchen isn't awesome, it has a pretty small oven. I don't think I'll be making a 20 lb. turkey in it or anything but if I have to make a giant turkey so badly I just can't take it, I'll find a big roaster or something like we always use anyway! Maybe I'll master something like Cornish Game Hens- that is more the size we are talking! 

I was also able to open my bank account (I now have accounts in three countries even though not one of them has much money at all...awesome) and so all of the internet, etc. will be set up when I get there which just makes my life so much easier.  I am really excited to have my own place again. I don't do well with a roommate which has nothing to do with the actual person, I just don't like having to live in someone else's house with all of their stuff and their pictures, etc. 

Anyway, I will have plenty of room for visitors so everyone is welcome! I have even already bought a folding cot bed from IKEA from another teacher so there will be plenty of beds and my mom just bought me a load of towels at Cosco that they'll bring over in April. I realize that Germany has towels, but when your mom offers to buy them for you and you are unemployed, you DO NOT say no. 


Looks like a school to me!
I spent two full days at the school and think that I am really going to like it there. I think it will take me some time to get past the small class sizes. I was helping out in a sixth grade class and it felt like a day at CBMS when we had half the kids out for swine flu since there were so few kids! I will NOT be complaining, I just think it will take a bit of time to get used to! 

Here's what is going to be really crazy for me though- basically I get to design the curriculum in my classes. WHAT? I know. I have always loved curriculum design and if I have ever wondered if it something I can do, now I'll know. The IB program is made so that it can fit on top of any district, state, school curriculum (Curricula? Which one is plural?). It is really flexible and just basically gives you very loose parameters (until you get to the 11/12th grade classes because they take specific exams). For example, if one district teaches science where they do a little bit from all branches of science in each year, the program will work the same as if you had just biology or just physics for the year. The thing that is different at this school is that they don't have a curriculum to lay the program on top of because they don't have a governing agency like a district or state-level making decisions for them. So, it is teacher-directed. Some people hate this, but I love it as I basically just decided everything was teacher-directed at CBMS anyway! 

This is going to be pretty exciting for me because it will really challenge all of my skills. And, it is about as opposite as you can possibly get from my English school where they told me basically what to teach on which day- which is like being a substitute teacher every single day. I had a several-hours long meeting with the head of science and he seems to be an abstract-random thinker. I am super concrete-sequential and it seems like maybe the department could use a really organized person to help them get some things down on paper. Are you surprised- I volunteered already to be that person?!? I already secretly picked out a blank wall in the office where I can see a big sticky-note organizer going. They don't have a scope and sequence (even a really general one like the one I'd been ignoring at Con Ball for the last six years) and when I asked him if he knew which topics were taught in which grade level, he got into a semantic discussion about "What, really, is a topic?" Oh boy. 

So, as it stands, I have some REALLY general essential questions (What is a scientist? is the one I'll be starting with) and I am going to try to at least plan one MYP (Middle Years Program- the IB program for 6th-10th grade) style unit before I get there so I can get lots of feedback from the MYP Coordinator (who is my kindred teacher-geek spirit and we totally bonded already over our love for Nancy Atwell and TED talks). I have a feeling that at this school there won't be someone coming in and criticizing every nit-picky thing that is going on in my classroom like in England. And, the head of science informed me that I can take however much time I need setting up my rituals, routines, and expectations...phew! By the way, I found out that I will have three preps- two sixth grade, two seventh grade, and one eighth grade class. 

The teaching schedule seems quite reasonable, actually. We are on a 9-day cycle. Within that 9 days there are a possible 63 teaching periods. A full-time contract is for 43 periods (but with 5 sections, I will only have about 35 science teaching hours in 9 days while those extra hours are homeroom and duties) and we have lots of built-in planning and meeting time. I love me a school that values collaboration and gives the time to do it and have been told by everyone who matters that they are really excited to have new people to add new ideas. The MYP coordinator told me that there still are a fair amount of really traditional teachers there (which was a little disappointing because I just assumed everyone would be like me since I felt there was really stiff competition to get the jobs- but tenure is tenure is tenure) but since I can basically do what I want in my own classroom, it doesn't really matter that much on a day to day basis. 

They are sending me to a big IB training in Atlanta for a week this summer so I feel like I will be really well-prepared when I get there. And, I am SOOOOOOO glad I spent a few days there to at least get the lay of the land before jumping in with both feet. Starting a new job, in a new country where they speak a different language, can be a bit stressful, so at the very least, I know how to get to school even though I still haven't really found my way around the 4 buildings!


I think the main reason I am glad that I went to visit is that I got to see what a nice, livable city Düsseldorf is. First of all, the airport is extremely conveniently located to pretty much everything and it is not going to be a giant ordeal getting there. It is a relatively small city (seventh largest in Germany with a population of only just over 100,000 but that doesn't include surrounding areas) and since it is built along the Rhine River, the city is a long North-South strip. 

I bet this is super-crowded on warm summer evenings!
Can't wait!
The downtown area is called the Altstadt (Old City) and when the weather is nice, it has miles of sidewalk cafés along the river. A lot of the city is new-ish after World War II but it still looks quaintly European in my opinion with cobblestone streets and nice architecture. There are some more modern looking buildings too but no 50-floor skyscrapers or anything. It is also extremely green (in terms of color- not sure about ecologically yet but did see lots of recycling bins around!) and has many parks. There is a huge park right by my house! And, there are sidewalk bike lanes on the big, main streets so you can ride around and not feel like you're going to be run over. I only made the mistake once of walking in the bike lane before I figured out what it was! 

I just had a really positive overall feeling from the school, the city, and all of the colleagues I met. Having already known I was going to move there since January, I have been getting a little bit antsy, but at least now, I can visualize what I am getting myself into! I definitely need to get started really studying German- at least so I can know what I am ordering at restaurants. Not surprisingly, I learned the words for white wine and red wine (Weißwein and Rotwein) right away. As it is an extremely international city, I know that there are many people who speak English, so I'll be able to survive without fluent German. However, I felt like a moron and I felt extremely impolite not even knowing basic words. 

Now I stay home in England not spending any money until Thursday when I fly to Copenhagen for 5 days to visit my family there. I decided that was an acceptable expense for myself since I have a free place to stay. :) I can justify just about anything. And then, two weeks from parents arrive! I am so excited to see them! We are going to tour around this part of England for a few days and then head to the Cotswolds (think that movie, "The Holiday" with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet and that's the type of places we'll be visiting) for several days. We're also going to go to Stonehenge because really...why not? AND...I'll be driving. Yikes. I was most afraid of roundabouts and now that I have driven in France, (even though you go around roundabouts to the left in England) I feel pretty good about it. The weirdest part to me is just sitting on the other side of the car and shifting with my left hand instead of right. 

So, there you have it.

Ich bin wirklich aufgeregt, um nach Düsseldorf zu bewegen und auch wirklich froh, dass so etwas wie Google Translate existiert!

Auf Wiedersehen!