A year in America instead of Lower Franconia – that was the Geiger family’s dream. But a caravan transport from Antwerp to Halifax in Canada went completely wrong. While loading the ship through the ramp, the rear wall was torn. Jeanette Geiger recalls that the dream of the trip almost threatened to collapse. “We had to decide at that point if we should send the ship anyway or if they should go down again. Of course it was completely blunt because we didn’t know how bad the damage really was and whether it could be repaired.”
After the initial difficulties, the journey began
Ochsenfurter accepted the risk. The ship arrived in Canada a week late. This time, a moving van had to serve as emergency shelter, which the family rented without further ado. Because hotels have exceeded their budget or are already fully booked. All four can sleep in a caravan in the workshop while repairs are made. When the rear wall was repaired, the journey up the East Coast to New York finally began.
Biggest obstacle: Compulsory schooling in Germany
Taking her two daughters, Romi (age 7) and Nala (age 11), out of school was the biggest obstacle, as compulsory schooling is a serious problem in Germany. It is almost impossible to avoid this as the school is considered a shelter for children. One factor that made this exception possible was the length of the trip. “The solution is that if we are not in Germany for a year, our usual residence is not in the country, but somewhere else, so there is no compulsory schooling. But it took us a long time to figure that out,” says father Daniel Geiger.
Five year planning
The teacher couple prefers to show their two daughters more than beautiful beaches and big cities. “We’re trying to teach the kids everything they see on this trip. We’re not trying to go on vacation, we’re trying to visit museums. There’s a lot about nature, but there’s also a lot about social stuff. You can convey that.”
The Geiger family planned this sabbatical five years in advance. Nala started school a year ago and now she can take a year off. Romi is now in second grade. Jeanette and Daniel mainly like to study German and maths with her. Travel guides and postcards are written. Romi and Nala send greetings to their classes, family and friends at home almost every week. Because despite the great adventure, there are moments of nostalgia.
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