Some of you may be wondering if I am still homeless. I am happy to report that I am not. In fact, the day after writing my first post on this blog, I heard from the school principal that a reasonable apartment would be available on October 15. He had arranged a single room in the youth hostel until then. Relief! I left the US with this plan in mind, and with large, heavy-duty trash bags to put my luggage into every night so I wouldn’t get bed bugs.
The department chair picked me up at the train station in Osnabrück and drove me directly to the school, where I met a bunch of teachers and one assistant principal, who immediately took me under her wing. She had a list of the possible apartments the principal had found for me. I mentioned that I was ready to stay in the hostel, to which she replied “We can do better than that!” There were four apartments on the list, but two would not be available until October, and one was out of my price range. A retired teacher couple, Herr and Frau P., owned the remaining apartment. The assistant principal told me they were wonderful people, and offered to drive me over to meet them and look at the apartment. After 4 hours of sleep, a bus ride to Cologne, a train ride to Osnabrück, a car ride to Damme and a whirlwind of introductions, I would have agreed to being shot out of a canon. I nodded numbly. She must have noticed that I seemed dumbstruck and made a point to say, “If you don’t want this place, just say so. If you say something like ‘I’d like to think about it,’ or ‘I’m not sure,’ I will tell them to forget it. No pressure!”
We left the school, drove approximately 3 minutes, and pulled into driveway of a large, brown, brick house. An older couple immediately emerged from the front door, smiling and waving. We climbed out of the car, and after the introductions, went inside. Herr and Frau P. told me about the house and the neighborhood as we climbed the stairs to the apartment. This subdivision was called the Wienerei after the Farmer Wiener, who had previously owned the land. When they opened the school in 1966, they desperately needed teachers. In order to attract them, they sold lots very cheaply to teachers, who then built houses they could never have been able to afford in a larger city. Thus, most of the subdivision’s residents were teachers or retired teachers.
Herr and Frau P’s house has two floors, plus a finished attic and basement. They lived on the ground floor, and had built the apartment on the second floor for Herr P.’s parents. Since they had passed, they had rented the apartment to a few other foreign students. One of their sons had even lived there between jobs. It was completely furnished, and the price included dishes, towels, bed linens, telephone, electricity, heat and use of their daughter’s old bike. I thought it sounded too good to be true, and assumed that it was a dump. Until I saw it:
My apartment has a living room, balcony, hall, kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a bathroom with shower and bathtub, and a half-bath or WC. All I had to add was a wireless router and groceries. It is beyond perfect! (An added bonus: no bed bugs.)
Herr and Frau P. have turned out to be as wonderful as everyone said. They have invited me downstairs for lunch or dinner three times already, as well as on various outings several times. They also insisted right away that we go by first names and “du” (the informal form of “you”). The most endearing and hilarious thing they have done so far really touches the language nerd in me: A retired Latin teacher lives two doors down, and when Herr P. told him that “Amanda is moving in,” he thought he was describing me. (Amanda is Latin for “lovable” or “worthy of love”). They have started referring to me as Amanda filia hospitalia, Latin for “lovable guest daughter,” and these two old men crack up every time they say. It’s good to be near a goofy family, since I’m so far away from my own.