I am an American living in Germany with my husband (a medic in the U.S. Army) and our two rambunctious dogs. I am currently pursuing a master’s in counseling psychology and am actually in the last couple weeks of my last couple regular classes after which I just have the practicum/internship and capstone course (a comprehensive exam and professional paper). I enjoy reading, writing, traveling, trying new things, and taking a ridiculous amount of pictures. I keep a blog about my adventures.
We live on base, so I don’t really get to integrate into the German culture on a daily basis. I make an effort to shop and eat on the economy when I can and to speak German when possible when I do so. I also like to watch movies in German, listen to German music, and read books that have side by side text in German and English.
There is very little in Germany that has struck me as “bad”. Occasionally I find it annoying that so many things are closed on Sundays, but that’s only because that’s one of my two days off to get things done and I tend to forget about it until I decide I want to go somewhere that isn’t open. Overall, Germany has been really great. I particularly enjoyed living in the first city we lived in, which was Heidelberg. A couple of good things that struck me about Germany is that the food in restaurants is prepared fresh and there is no rush to make customers leave a table, which is pretty much the opposite of a lot of restaurant experiences in America.
I’m not sure if there is anything that’s “typically” German as Germans are individuals like anyone else. One thing I have noticed that’s common is that people are pretty straight forward. If you ask a question, they’ll give you a direct answer.
I don’t think there is just one thing that people in general think of Germany and Germans, and I imagine it depends on where the person is from. I know where I am from in Ohio there’s a big German-American community and they hold a yearly festival, so people from there probably most often think of the German food and maybe the festival music. I know a lot of others mostly know of Oktoberfest and beer. Since this question kind of stumped me, I posed it to Facebook and, among the people who have not lived in Germany, I heard a lot of responses related to beer and lederhosen. I think a person or two mentioned the Autobahn, but most of them know from me that it’s not all the no-speed-limit-panacea that Americans tend to imagine it is.
Has your lifestyle changed when you came to in Germany?
One thing that has changed is that I travel more than I did when I lived in America. Of course I could drive several hours and still be in the same state in America, whereas, here, I can drive a couple of hours and be in another country, and it’s only an overnight trip to go as far as Denmark. I am really glad that I’ve had the opportunity to incorporate more travel into my life and hope to be able to continue that, even if it’s not to the same degree, when we got back to the USA.
I assume most people who planned to become expats before arriving wouldn’t need this advice, but for those who are in my situation and came over due to a spouse’s job, I would recommend taking advantage of the opportunity as much as you can and getting out to explore. It baffles me whenever I come across someone who hates being here. Usually the people who do are the ones who rarely leave the military installation or their neighborhood if they live off base. No wonder they’re bored. It has been my experience so far that it’s easy to find someone who can speak English in most places in Germany if you need to and many will appreciate even a botched attempt at German. There is so much to do and see and try in this country that even those who seem determined to hate it should be able to find something to enjoy if they’re just willing to take a chance and explore a little bit.