In 2016, Kathy Bryan and her husband moved their three school-age kids to Munich. The family has been dealing with a whole new country, new language and new lifestyle. We’ve asked Kathy to write about her experience in Munich, answering #minga questions like: How do you make friends at the school gate when you can’t chit-chat? Can you still go on mom-dates without your kids? How many first days of school can one kid have? Look for the #kathy tag to check out her posts. To begin with, we asked her to tell us more about herself…
Hi! I’m Kathy and I’m a mum, a wife, an expat, an occasional jogger and now also a contributor to this website. To answer the questions above: It’s tough. Yes, for sure! and: At least 3 (more on that another time).
Me the mum
I am mum to two sons, known here as Herbert and Humphrey. As I write, in early 2017, they are 9 and 11 years old. I also have a 7 year old daughter, who we will call Missy Moo. Since we began our family’s German adventure our children have bowled me over. I am so proud of how well they have taken to their new life I could burst. Don’t get me wrong, they still have their moments… lots of moments: they are normal children. However, how well they have coped with our transfer to Bavaria has been their get out of jail free card this year: they could have made it so, so much harder!
Me the wife
We have been married for 15 years. It was his job, or rather, change of job, which brought us to Munich. That and me asking him a simple but life altering question.
Following a more than usually relaxed family holiday in the Black Forest and a weekend away in Munich, I asked “So, when you lived in Munich as a student, did you ever consider bringing your [future] family back there to live?” Not one of my smarter moments! Apparently, the answer was yes! Yes he had thought that he would want to. He followed up with: “I’ll start asking around to see if there are any opportunities to transfer”. Whoops! I hadn’t seen that answer coming! I had thought it would be more along the lines of “Well maybe, but it’s a bit late now.”
Following many late night, wine-assisted discussions we decided that if an opportunity arose we would take it. You only live once and all that. So here we are!
Me the expat
Born and raised in the UK, while I have travelled a little, and gone on the almost obligatory school exchange trips in my youth, until last year I had never lived abroad. It is fair to say that I was a little underprepared linguistically, mentally and emotionally for our move. But that is for another post.
We arrived in March 2016. When we landed, our house in the UK was on the market but hadn’t been sold and Mike’s new job was due to start in two weeks. We had a new house, new school places secured, a new life to settle into and new adventures to have.
Me the woman
Ok, so those are some of my labels, but they only add to me the woman. Who am I? Lets get the other possible labels out of the way first: I am 40; the eldest of 3 sisters; a one-time civil servant and HR professional;a former rugby player who now jogs to keep fit.
When I stopped work I found I needed to do something for myself, to let me be me and not just a child’s mum or Mike’s wife. In the UK this largely centred on our village: I helped with different committees and at the school. Now we are in Germany I not only live in a village but I seem to have joined a virtual village too. When the chance to write for the LMBB website came along I seized it as my new challenge and also because it addressed my one lingering doubt about the move: what am I going to do?
Like all of you I have lots of things that make me happy, make me laugh or worry, get angry or amused. I like the idea of having a plan and being organised but I am not sure I am too good at it: my planning seems to guarantee that something else happens instead. When I was 20 I was sure I was going be a Foreign Office international relations expert by the time I was 25. That didn’t happen: I went to work in a prison instead! I also met my husband, and after 11 wonderful years in Leicestershire we moved to Munich and I responded to Apry’s comment on Facebook. This isn’t the path I planned, but it’s one I’m happy with. I am still learning and enjoying the adventures and challenges of living in Munich as a parent, a wife, an expat and a woman. I look forward to sharing them with you.
‘Til next time / Bis Bald! Kathy
Kathy Bryan is a stay at home mum with 11 ½ years experience. She and her family transplanted to Bavaria from the middle of England in March 2016. Her current challenge is learning enough German to help with homework as well as keeping up with her 3 children! Prior to children she worked and lived in London; rugby was her sport of choice. Now in her free time she tries to run regularly and continue to try to settle and make friends in this wonderful part of Germany.
Photo credit: Jessica Gales van Maanen is a family and portrait photographer that frequently gets sidetracked by shooting the world around her while satisfying her wanderlust. Find her here.