Ten Things I’ve Learned in Germany by Erin

When I lived in Papua New Guinea, many of my wonderful friends and family members wrote me e-mails, chatted with me online, and sent letters and care packages. But there was one particular friend of mine who went the extra mile and CALLED me despite the 15 hour difference.  (This was before Skype worked or webcams were a dime a dozen. -Of course, I still don’t have one.)  Anyway, if you have never lived on the opposite side of the earth from almost everything near and dear to your heart, you may not quite understand this, but let me just tell you. Hearing that long international delay and then her sweet, cheerful voice when I picked up the phone was a beautiful, beautiful thing. For that reason, and many many others, I have promised my lovely friend Erin that she could write a guest post for my blog if she ever had the inclination.
Her husband is in the military and they recently moved to Germany.  She wrote a post about some of what she has learned there.
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Because I am basically chicken and have not started my own blog, I asked Katrina if she could post something for me…and she said…. “yes!”

Germany.  I have been living in the land of Bavaria, with my family, for 5 months now.  We moved here mid September and well…let’s just say…some things in life are a bit easier than moving to another country.

I have always said, “I never get culture shock.” Well, I have never been out of the country for more than 3 weeks.
I have always said, “living in a foreign country is like, totally the coolest thing EVER.”  There is a big difference between living, and visiting.
I have always said, “kids are portable, just put them on your back and GO!”  That is before you realize you are 34 and carrying a toddler just is not as much fun as R.E.I makes it sound.
I have always said, “Anyone, can make Lemonade out of any situation.”  Lemonade is not really a popular drink in Germany.
It might sound as if I am complaining.  Please know I am not.  Not at all.  I have just realized that things are different when living overseas.  The learning curve has taken a lot longer than I thought.  I really, truly, thought I could move across the ocean and jump right into life.  Not so much.   There are quite a few hurdles that one has to get around before soaking up the “life” that is Germany.
So here are the Top Ten things I’ve Learned from living in Germany.
  1. If you speak the only 3 German words you know to a German person, they will respond. Be ready to answer them back.  Or you could be left with nothing to say, but your brain is thinking, Yo estudio espanol in College – y hablo espanol un poquito, lo siento.
  2. Sometimes a store just, won’t be open.  I am serious. At some random time, it just may not be open.  Just because.  Make sure you have what you need.
  3. European Food is AMAZING!  EAT UP.  You only live once, and you might as well embrace the fact that most restaurants make the food for you.   No heat lamps.  They bring it out as it’s made.  YUMMY!
  4. When doing a Military move, your stuff will get broken.  Especially if it is across the ocean.  Ohh and your stuff might get wet, moldy, and be called very bad words by the European Moving Company that drops it off, and tells you it should be thrown away.
  5. Kids take a long time to adjust to a new place.  Adults take longer.
  6. When it’s cold in Germany, it’s cold.  No amount of long underwear can prepare you for the “COLD” that we have been having.  I used to think I wanted to climb Mt. Everest. Whatever. The cold we have been having freezes your lips and your snot.
  7. Despite the cold, it is quite pretty here.  Clean. Simple. Fresh. Quiet. Peaceful. It is a nice way of life.
  8. Not everyone, in every country, is outgoing or an extravert.  I suppose it isn’t personal.  (If you don’t know me, I am basically an extravert’s extravert.  I have not met a stranger and will speak to and entertain a rock.)
  9. Military TV is,  . . . . ..Well, I’ll just say that we are grateful for movies and old TV shows that anyone wants to send us.  We have been catching up on Friends courteously of Katrina’s PNG DVD supply. :)
  10. Diet Coke is not Diet Coke in Europe.  I would do almost anything for a REAL Diet Coke from McDonalds.
I do have to say, that sometimes it is hard to embrace all the things that I have to embrace.  There are slight differences in almost everything.  From Diet Coke tasting different, to stores closing early.  From eating when your food comes out and not waiting for the entire table to be served, to learning that a EURO is really not the same as a dollar.  You might laugh… it’s hard not to be in that mindset.
All in all, we love Germany.  It is a crazy fun adventure and I am so glad to experience life in Germany.

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6 Responses to Ten Things I’ve Learned in Germany by Erin

  1. Leanne March 7, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    oh Neuschwanstein! *sigh* I was there a couple of years ago. Yes, visiting :) And we have a photo taken at that very spot. I have to admit I am a little jealous you’re living in Bavaria… Having myself moved from Australia to the United States — yes, there is even culture shock there … so good for you for calling Katrina! Back in the day, it wasn’t as cheap as it is now either.
    Leanne recently posted…Joy Dare Monday … Lenten AwarenessMy Profile

  2. Tabitha March 7, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    I was born when my parents were stationed in Germany and my mother has said nearly the exact same things about living out of the country. She said the best thing that could have happened to her was that they found a wonderful church group and made them their extended family, translators and cultural guides. I hope you find the perfect niche and please know that my heart resounded loudly with your call for real Diet Coke from McDonalds. Not that it will make you feel much better, but I’ll drink one in honor of you tomorrow, friend of a friend…
    Tabitha recently posted…Oh snap.My Profile

  3. Kay Bruner March 7, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    Love it, Erin! Take the plunge and start a blog!!!!
    Kay Bruner recently posted…Don’t let her carry the knifeMy Profile

  4. Jillian Weir March 7, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    Thank you so much for this post! My husband does a decent amount of traveling to Finland and expects that we may have to spend some time as a family over there someday. Anticipating this, I traveled with him last summer for a quick visit. Wow – picturing us hauling our 3 (maybe more by that time) kids over there and trying to figure out how to live (especially on a budget) has me freaking out a bit. Haha…and I’ve been saying all of the same things as you my whole life. I mean, all of my missionary family and friends have done it standing on their heads, right? 😉 Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your experience!

  5. Amy Sullivan March 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I would have a hard time with #2 and #10, and oh, Katrina, please tell Erin that family pic is crazy beautiful. WOW! I hope she prints it and frames it and isn’t like me and just let it sit on the computer.

    Fun post.
    Amy Sullivan recently posted…On Building and Bus Stop MishapsMy Profile

  6. Becky Castle Miller March 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    This is great! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I lived in Germany for 5 months when I was 15, in the military housing area in Wiesbaden. My husband and I are getting ready to move our three kids to the Netherlands to work with an international church. I think this is going to be a much more immersive and difficult culture change.
    Becky Castle Miller recently posted…Six Months!My Profile