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“Our” Summer break starts on Friday…

Posted by on July 20, 2016


Families in the United States with school-aged children ended the school year in June. Many are already halfway into summer break! The kids here in Hamburg aren’t finished until the end of this week! Schools in Germany go year-round and in turn, offer longer (2-3 week) fall, Christmas and spring breaks. This schedule allows parents to travel during kids’ breaks and still have time to rest/play together as a family. As a result, the breaks are truly “pauses” from the hum-drum of daily routines and early mornings.

Many families in the U.S. are feeling the intense heat of mid-summer and are beginning to hear the familiar choruses of whining and boredom from the kids. By now, U.S. families have completed many of the traditional summer events: letting kids stay up late, going to outdoor parks and amusement parks, vacations, VBS’s and now may be running out of ideas to entertain the children. Parents are ready for the kids to go back but there is still another month left. {Side note: this reminds us of the Staples commercial that comes out every year with the dad shopping for school supplies while “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays happily in the background.}

We appreciate this perspective (and remember it well) but we don’t have these circumstances in Germany. In fact, we have the opposite. First, because we’re so far north here in Hamburg, summers are cool. Sometimes COLD! We find ourselves pulling out sweaters on occasion, even in July. Virtually no houses or businesses have A/C because it’s just not needed.

Second, we are actually excited to have the kids stay home from school and to take a break from our morning routine. Every day we get up early, get the kids ready, make their breakfasts (1 for home and 1 for school – for mid-morning “breakfast pause.”) We’re out the door by 7:45 for an 8:00 start. Needless to say, our summer hasn’t really begun just yet.

It never ceases to surprise us how a relatively “short” an 8 hour plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean leads to a completely different experiences and perspectives. Every single day these new experiences happen to us. It happens when expectations from our “past life” encounter the realities of our new life. The reason we go through culture shock in the first year of living overseas is because there are so many new things happening at such an alarming rate, it sends our systems into shock. Culture shock almost feels like jumping into a pool, expecting to swim, and finding our bodies no longer obey the laws of physics and we’re either sinking or not able to enter the water at all.

The amazing thing about all of this is that we can and do learn to live with a new cultural perspective. And fewer things really surprise us these days. We’re becoming more adaptable, more pliable human beings, being shaped profoundly as we pass through the testing waters and refining fires of life as cross-cultural servants. The world is a very big place, and our amazing God made it all.

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