Greetings and warm wishes to our family and friends around the planet!
The PashbyMaul’s 2021 was yet another year of international transition. Doing so while the world remains firmly in the grip of a pandemic was no easy task. From one extreme to another, our move from Dresden to Bahrain has been full of challenges, frustrations, and opportunities. Our understanding of “culture shock” has become clearer, and forces us to view our new reality with a renewed sense of purpose. No doubt 2021 will be looked back upon as a turning point for our family as we settle in to new roles in a new country and look ahead to an uncertain future.
As a family, the PashbyMauls spent the first half of 2021 soaking up as many memories as possible in and around Dresden. We experienced a cold winter with lots of snow adventures, and enjoyed regional excursions to Obercunnersdorf, Berlin, and across the border to the Czech Republic. We also said goodbye to our beloved MuliCycles cargo bike this year, but not before pedaling over 2,000km with Mr. T riding up front. In addition to the bikes, we also purged the majority of our belongings in preparation for our move. Countless listings on ebay kleinanzeigen and facebook marketplace, several loads to the Wertstoffhof, and daily contributions to our sidewalk Zu Verschenken box. We packed out 13 July with just 35 pieces bound for Bahrain, driving away from our home of three years on the 1st of August. We flew out of Frankfurt the next day. Dresden, you are sorely missed.
Bahrain is not Germany, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s been difficult trying to find our groove. Trading leisurely bike commutes along the Elbe for hours fighting infuriating traffic. Giving up an idyllic apartment in Striesen for a 14th floor high-rise apartment in the busy Seef district of Manama. Saying goodbye to dear friends. Moving is hard. The PashbyMauls have moved several times already, but this one feels different. Slowly but surely we are finding our way. We joined the British Club thanks to Andrew’s dual citizenship. They have a passable Biergarten and a Spielplatz with a slide for Mr. T. We’ve started attending St. Christopher’s Cathedral (Anglican) for weekly services. Not as spectacular as the Frauenkirche, but a much more active community. What do Germany and Bahrain have in common? Corona is back!
Alicia had an interesting start to the year emerging from a difficult Corona winter in Dresden. School resumed in January fully online, but then transitioned back to in-person learning at the end of February. Unfortunately the restrictions in place at the time didn’t allow for music, so she completed the year as a Grade 1 “learning pod” teacher. Though the school managed to avoid any major outbreaks or closures through the end of June, it was a professionally challenging time for everyone. Fast forward to September, Alicia is now embracing her new role as a Pre-K through Grade 6 Band and Music Teacher at the American School of Bahrain. Despite the new normal of commuting, day-care, and culture shock, the transition to a new school has been professionally and musically fulfilling.
Andrew has transitioned from being a full-time Stay at Home Dad in Dresden to goal fulfilment as a Grade 5 Classroom Teacher. It’s hard to believe this is already his fifth year working in International Schools. Andrew continues to say that as a second career, this move back to Bahrain is the best decision professionally he has ever made. Despite living here before, it seems very different 12 years later. While it’s refreshing to be a “normal” expat this time, the frustrations of daily life and navigating logistics are taking their toll. One New Year’s resolution is to practice more self-care.
Mr. T is now 2½! He found the whole moving experience to be quite the adventure. We’re sure he misses his school, aunties and uncles, and life of leisure exploring trees, puddles, and throwing rocks in the river, but he’s still hanging on to his German vocabulary. His (English) conversation skills are developing daily. There’s always something exciting to tell mommy and daddy, trains to play with, stools to climb up on investigating what’s just out of reach, and mind-numbing toddler TV. We started the process of transitioning into a new day-care early, snagging a spot in a wonderful full-day program. The commute is killing us, but we know Mr. T is very happy in his new school. Our focus for 2022 will be potty training and preparing for Pre-K.
Ponce (aka “the tyrannical Tuscan farm-cat”) is still with us, and has transitioned well to high-rise luxury living (again). He enjoys looking out the windows, and dreaming of using all the sand as his litter box. Among his favorite things are sleeping, and avoiding the child. The trip from Germany to Bahrain was by cargo due to import restrictions, but he seemed to have weathered the experience quite well. We 100% recommend the export services of Gradyln Pet-Shipping in Frankfurt, and seamless import through Delmon Pets Relocators here in Bahrain.
Our 2022 has already been busy. Parents are making the long journey to spend time with us. Corona travel restrictions make trips abroad with a two-year-old impractical. We’re enjoying the “winter” weather poolside, taking shelter from the “cold” whenever the sun disappears behind the occasional cloud. After starting the new year with online learning, our school returns to in-person classes next week despite rising case numbers. “Keep calm, wear a mask,” is our new mantra. With Green Shields required for access to most areas of society and one of the highest vaccination/booster rates in the world, we feel very fortunate to be in Bahrain compared to some other places in the world.
God willing, we do plan on making it back to the US for a visit this summer. It will be our first trip back since December 2019. Notice we don’t use the word “home” to describe our summer plans. If life abroad has come to represent anything, it’s that for the PashbyMauls, being Global Citizens continues to define our life experience.
Blessings and Peace,
Andrew, Alicia, and Mr. T