I know the last couple of posts seemed like one massive vent session, but even through the worst of the adjustment I’ve gone through, I just cannot imagine moving back home. I just can’t. For a lot of practical reasons too.
1. Future. If I get married and have kids, I would want to do that in Germany. Germans don’t pay the kind of costs we pay for education. I mean they’ll pay for the books and stuff, but 50,000 a year for school, a really great school? No way. It’s pretty much little to no fees. Yes, you read that correctly. You can attend an amazing school for nothing as long as you are a citizen. I feel like I will never pay back the 50,000 dollars I’ve accrued even though I received a great deal of financial aid and scholarships I worked my big bottom off to obtain. And I don’t want my kids to pay like I’ll be paying for the rest of my life.
2. Health Insurance. Never in my life have I paid so little for healthcare. Never. Even medicine that isn’t covered by my insurance is about 8-9 euros as opposed to 300 dollars. I have severe asthma and allergies, something I’ve had since I could remember. In NYC, I needed an inhaler again. This was not covered by my insurance and would have cost $250. So I went without it, having difficulties breathing along the way. In Germany, the doctor said oh yes, you need an inhaler. I get my prescription filled and they tell me, uh oh, this isn’t covered by insurance. So I’m sweating and freaking out. How much is it? I ask. Oh 6 euros, the lady says making an I’m-sorry face. I can’t tell you how overjoyed I was.
3. Work. Yeah I said work. Even though I’m not 100% in love with my job yet mostly because I don’t understand the culture quite well, I feel cared about in some ways, especially when I’m sick. You don’t have a numbered amount of sick days, you are sick and you go to the doctor and the doctor tells you when you can work again. So if you cannot work for a week, your insurance and work is notified. Then you stay home and get better. No one guilt trips you, or makes you feel like an idiot for getting sick. It’s not a negative experience, except that you are sick. And yeah, I learn German quickly through work. I get a lot of vacation time (something I never got back home in the States) and people really value their time here. You don’t overwork. You do what is required of you, and no one expects more. Sure more is nice, but not necessary. Maybe no one tells me how valued I am here, but in some ways, I can tell that I am.
4. You don’t need a car. As most people know, and much to my embarrassed chagrin, I don’t have my driver’s license still. But no big deal because I lived in NYC and now Nürnberg. I don’t need to drive anywhere, public transportation works and is quite nice. Although I didn’t have the best experience trying to get back from the Ikea in Fürth that one time. I like that people are concerned about the environment here, and no one makes you feel like a loser because you are taking the bus. It’s just so easygoing and nice.
5. Rent is cheaper, food is much cheaper, and the quality of life is higher. We pay half of what I paid for my share of an apartment in NYC for a one bedroom apartment with a balcony here. Less than half. Utilities are cheaper, and I can pay the rent, utilities. groceries, and go to the movies and bars as much as I want to here with my monthly income. But it isn’t just me, I have the G-Man, and he makes WAY more than me. Needless to say and not in a show-offy way, that we are doing really way income-wise. I’ve never had that. I could never save money in NYC, and I didn’t go out much. I have struggled for years, and now I’m in heaven. I have savings, I have money, and I can buy new clothes and go out for a beer when I want. How amazing is that?
6. Food is better here. Yeah I don’t have all the ingredients I’m used to having back home, but the produce is fresher here and so cheap. I can buy 10 fresh garden tomatoes at the market and spend less than 2 euros. I can buy fresh clementines with the leaves on, imported from Spain and it’s like the best thing I’ve ever had. Seriously, their produce just tastes better. I was eating a clementine and it’s nothing like the clementines I had back home. It’s sweeter and tart-er at the same time. The tomatoes still have that fresh garden aroma, their brussel sprouts and green beans are greener, and their carrots even taste amazing. I’m amazed by what I can buy for so little, and I can practically eat raw because it is so fresh. And also, they aren’t preservative crazy like we are, although I do have to avoid packaged things here too.
7. Germany has an identity. Ask a German what they are and they’ll tell you, I’m German. Ask an American what they are and they’ll tell you- French, English and Brazilian. Yes they have their problems too with certain populations not adjusting to their way of life, but that’s the thing, they have a way of life here. A national way of life. Work hard but not too hard. Enjoy yourself, enjoy your time, enjoy your life. Everything in balance. Be patient (although this can drive me crazy about them). And although they aren’t amazing at their conflict resolution skills, they do make it a point to try to understand people. Something I didn’t necessarily know about this culture when I came here but with experience, I feel it a lot more. They are an older country and an older culture in some respects, to us Americans. They know who they are and what they are. This might not make a lot of sense about why I like this, but if you think about it in-depth, you’ll understand what I’m trying to say.
A lot of people will tell you Germans aren’t friendly or happy, but I feel it’s just the opposite. Sure you’ll see some people like that here like everywhere else, but you have to get to know their culture. Then you’ll see, whoa these are some happy people. They work, they take their long vacations, and they enjoy their families and life. Isn’t that what we all want?
8. Soccer or Fußball. This is a really big deal over here, and once you pick your club, it’s hard not to get into the coolness surrounding this sport. I know it’s like this all over Europe, and it’s just so cool. It’s an awesome way of feeling included and having something to look forward to. And it’s exciting!
9. Lots of bars with good, cheap drinks, proximity to all of Europe, no Rush Limbaugh… there are so many little reasons and big reasons like I stated above. Now I love where I grew up, and I love many aspects of my home country, no one would or should ever think I am anti-American. I love America, it is my home. But when it comes to planning for the future. never repeating my mistakes or going through my earlier struggles, I understand that my life has a better chance of happiness for me here. That doesn’t mean I won’t be coming back to visit, or daydreaming about being back, but I know this is a big chance for me to be somewhere new and somewhere healthy.
So friends, come visit. Germany is in fact, very cool.