1. GA-English

FIVE QUESTIONS: An Australian ice hockey family in Bonn

FIVE QUESTIONS : An Australian ice hockey family in Bonn

In our GA-English series FIVE QUESTIONS, we catch up with Megan Schmitz, who has recently moved here from Australia. It is her second time living in Bonn and working at Independent Bonn International School. She wants her daughters to experience life in Germany.

In this edition of the GA-English series, FIVE QUESTIONS, we talk to Australian native Megan Schmitz. Her name may not sound particularly Australian but like many expats here in Bonn, she embraces and indeed lives in more than one culture. Schmitz first came to Bonn as a teacher at Independent Bonn International School (IBIS) in 2002. She stayed there for two years before returning to Sydney; where she pursued a further degree at university, and married Joerg, a German citizen. The couple had two daughters. Schmitz is now back at IBIS 15 years after she left.

Sydney is not exactly around the corner from Bonn, this was a big decision and an even bigger move. But now the whole family is here, and her girls can’t wait for the first snowfall on the Heiderhof as they have never seen snow. As for Schmitz, this time around she has two roles at IBIS. Firstly, she is working as an Educational and Developmental Psychologist and secondly as a teacher, teaching all grade levels. She says this is lots of fun because she knows nearly every child in the school.

GA-English: What brought you to Bonn and how long do you plan to stay here (or how long have you been here already)?

Schmitz: We came to Bonn primarily so that Annika and Elin could experience life in Germany as well as spending more time with their grandparents and cousins. It is never the perfect time to relocate to the other side of the world with your family, but with the girls nearing the end of their primary school education, the time was right for us. It is also an opportunity to spend time together as a family as we travel and explore Germany as well as Europe. We hope to stay for a couple of years.

GA-English: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Schmitz: We are an ice hockey family. People here think this is very strange coming from Australia. I do admit the sport is quite small compared to Germany. The girls have joined a club in Troisdorf and Joerg plays socially. I don't play ice hockey but I do enjoy skating which we like to do as a family. When we first arrived in Germany we were surprised that the ice rinks here are closed over summer. In Sydney, ice rinks provide relief from the summer heat! Kaffee and Kuchen with the German side of our family is also becoming an enjoyable feature of our weekends.

GA-English: What part of the lifestyle here has been easiest or most challenging to adapt to?

Schmitz: Living in Germany I thought I would not get used to the supermarkets being closed on Sundays. It was hard at first to be organized and to remember that you couldn't just go out to the shops on a Sunday if you had forgotten something. Now I have started to like the fact that Sunday is a more relaxing day and without the option of shopping, we have found great uses of our time.

GA-English: Which season of the year is your favorite in Bonn and why?

Schmitz: My favorite season of the year in Bonn is winter. Christmas is a beautiful time of the year especially with the Christmas markets. Winter is also about Karneval, which you hear referred to as the fifth season. Karneval is so much fun and it is literally enjoyed by people of all ages. If you are in Bonn at Karneval time is is worth donning a costume and throwing yourself fully into the fun of a local parade. A bag to catch all the sweets that are through from the passing parade to the waiting crowd, is a must.

GA-English: What’s your best insider tip for people living in Bonn?

Schmitz: One of the best things about Bonn is it's location. Within an hour's drive/train/tram from Bonn you have an abundance of opportunities to spend your time, whatever your interests are. Be it sports, culture, nature, theme parks, big city, music, history, you will find it all in and around Bonn. For anyone living in Bonn, it is worth the effort to get out and explore not just Bonn but the surrounding region.