I am an American living in Germany since 2007. I like fantasy novels and board games. I recently self-published a fantasy novella as an e-book and am working on the next in the series. I live in Freiburg with my wife, also an American. My life has changed here a lot. I don’t drive in Germany so am attached to the public transport schedules or my bike. This has let me be a bit freer to go out. I travel more here both given the better transport options and more vacation time. Overall, I am less anxious living here and that has improved my life as well.

What brought you to Germany?

A ship. Seriously, I moved to Europe on a boat. Anxiety driving as well as a fear of airplanes enough that I took the Transatlantic ship from New York to London. As for why Germany specifically, I had studied German and traveled here a number of times so in Europe it was where I was comfortable.

What strikes me here is the formality in so many things. The language has a formal address that is very common. You stay on lastname basis with people so much longer. Even outside of the social formality, there is so much formal ritual wrapped up in forms and formality in “how things are done.” I tend to be a very informal person. It is a difficult thing being an expat. And yet for whatever reason despite the pain and misery I have had few panic attacks here than before moving. So in a lot of ways this was the best move I could have made. Advice for a newcomer, if you don’t speak German yet, definitely learn but don’t sweat the articles at all. It really isn’t worth the time to fight with them until you have the rest of the structure set in your head.

What is typically German for you?

Bread and bakeries. It is really not something most people might think about, but I take it for granted that there is a bakery on nearly every street in a city. I get taken off guard when we travel and there are so few bakeries and the ones there are have mostly pastries.

Traveling here ahead of moving has helped me avoid most of the direct confrontation style things. Though when I first was in Germany as an exchange student in the 90’s, I walked into a prison accidently. I don’t think I got to where the prisoners were. I was looking at a concentration camp near Hamburg and wandered in through the open gate and was yelled at by a guard. Freaked me out a bit.


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