I was talking to my best friend of over 20 years who is currently residing in Australia and we were naming our favorite things about our guest countries. For her, Australia is warm and has an endless supply of Tim Tams, which I concur is a wonderful national treasure, among other things. She loves the time off, the employee benefits, the benefits she may have if and/or when she has children, and their way of life. We agree that you can bitch and moan all you want about what you miss about home, about the culture and all the differences, but you wouldn’t be away from home if you didn’t agree to a new way of life.
See, now that’s the thing. If I hated Germany so very much, in every possible way, I wouldn’t be here to discuss it anymore. Sometimes you bitch and moan because you have nowhere else to do it, nowhere else to be free enough to say how you feel and have other people say, you know what, I have those same feelings that aren’t always justified but they happen. Feelings cannot be right or wrong, they are what they are, and it’s up to you to figure them out and work through them. That is what I do through this blog.
I have a lot of love for Germany in quite a few ways that not everyone will understand. I grew up poor outside of Boston as a kid. We couldn’t always afford groceries, had second-hand clothes, and we didn’t complain about it. My Mom loved us, and she provided for us, what more could we ask for? In Germany, I’m not poor for the first time because I can afford groceries, they are more affordable and accessible. Rent is less because the overall cost of living is cheaper. Sure your taxes are higher, but you’ll never hear me complaining about that. I love their services, how they treat their citizens from their healthcare to their unemployment. They care about you.
Importantly, I love that European feeling; you know the kind where you are walking through the center of the city and there are old churches and little vendors selling jams and loaves of bread, coffee shops and bookstores, and there’s this smell in the air. You don’t feel this anywhere else but in Europe, and Germany is no exception; there are memories etched onto their streets, and history resides in the very core of their foundations. The building across the street from our apartment looks like it was torn in half during WWII and it probably was, Nürnberg was hit hard. It’s amazing to think that the city I walk through everyday was in shambles 70 years ago. I’m fascinated by that.
They have a sense of identity, and they understand their own culture. Now, I won’t and can’t always agree with their culture, especially when it differs drastically from mine, but I can say that they own it. And they make no apologies for it. Whereas we Americans have a muddled culture because there are so many different people in America from different places and it is SO big and that is what America is about. The Germans are who they are, for better or worse, and you as a guest, don’t have to like it, but you have to accept it.
Another thing I like about the Germans is their right to party; see that hill over there, it looks a bit taller, so lets drink a few beers! It’s Fasching, let’s party for a few months. You don’t just have Easter Sunday, you get Easter Monday too. The Germans will pretty much party, take holidays, and vacation like nobody’s business because they work hard (hard for European standards and I mean that as a compliment), and play harder. And there is something about that spirit you have to admire.
Now there is a lot of good, and a some bad, and the bad ends up being more prominently vocalized than the good. But Germany is not a bad place; it’s a place that takes a lot of getting used to and that as I’ve asked every expat I’ve met, takes a good 2-3 years. But after, you start to adjust, appreciate it more and feel comfortable in your new home.