It's not always easy to be here without knowing much of the language. However, when something works out well, we don't take those small successes for granted anymore. And when it doesn't work out so well, it's often a pretty good story in hindsight.
Here's a listing of our small victories and frustrations:
First day on the metro: We figured out the ticketing system all by ourselves. It was even better later when we found out that you can change the info on the screen into English!
Second time to Rewe, our local grocery store: We understood that the cashier wanted us to show her if we had anything in our reusable bags. It goes both ways though--this same cashier asked me something yesterday and I gave her my "I have no hope of knowing what you're asking me" look.
Hardware stores: I probably caused a minor heart attack for a young sales assistant at the OBI--imagine someone sweating bullets because he had to speak English to me. Really, like I'm that scary?!?
Then I gave my signature blank stare (see above, I'll eventually try to upload a picture of it here ;-) to an associate at Bauhaus. Both got me what I wanted and in the process I learned how to say zip ties in German ("kabelbinder").
Internet/Phone hook-up: I met the internet/phone technician and although I was expecting trouble, he hooked everything up quickly. Then, he told me to turn everything on and follow the rest of the instructions at 2 pm. And, I actually did it (without understanding most of what the pre-recorded voice wanted me to do)!
Web cam: I was having issues with our web cam and finally got the right driver downloaded! So it's up and working. You can now see the effect of the humidity on my hair when we're on Skype. *Argh*
Wireless driver: In Aurora, a Comcast technician had turned off our wireless software so I had to find and install the driver again. The wireless is so far working great!
Banking info: Somehow I managed to get us blocked from our German bank account by typing the PIN in frustration too many times. Who knew?! I've talked to our super-nice bank person and she's kindly unblocked us now, but I'm still going to have Greg try it tonight, not taking any chances.
Vodafone: I obtained the English-speaking line for Vodafone so we can set up free calling to US landlines...BUT the mean-sounding British lady said it was unavailable.
And the BEST small victory of this week: I got called for a job interview next Friday (the 11th) at an online search marketing company for a US/UK account manager position. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I'm starting to prep for it...it's been 3.5 years since I've had to interview for a job!