Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Welcome to Europe...

Sometimes, I get a little fatigued when I hang out for too long on the local Facebook page.  It's populated with a lot of Americans, many of whom have no experience with Europe.  This is my fourth time living abroad and while I am very definitely an American, I'm pretty used to the way things are over here.  I don't expect to be able to go grocery shopping on the economy on Sundays.  I don't expect to have access to 24 hour shopping at Costco or Wal-Mart.  I expect to have to pay for water and realize that it will probably be fizzy (and I actually prefer fizzy water anyway).

Alas, many of my countrymen are flummoxed by life abroad.  They haven't yet caught on to why living in Europe is awesome.  Some of them are stymied by the local language, which you don't even really have to speak much of the time.  They find Germany's "quirks" to be odd.

To be perfectly honest, I feel relieved to live here instead of Texas.  I don't know why, but Germany really agrees with me.  A lot of times, when Bill and I are driving along the country roads near our home, I say out loud how I can't believe we live here.  To me, the landscape is just inspiring and beautiful.  I feel creative when I look at wheat fields surrounded by little towns with buildings that are centuries old.  It makes me want to write or make music or even paint, if I only had that gift.  Maybe I should try it anyway.

I love the food here... even if I can confess to missing certain American specialties.  I love the fact that you don't have to go to a store like Whole Foods to get your hands on really decent food.  I love that there aren't shitloads of chain restaurants everywhere... or box stores.  I am delighted that I don't have to see Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or strip malls blighting the landscape.

I love that there's no view of an interstate from my windows.  I look out the window and see a beautiful field bordered by mature evergreens.  Right now, there's wheat in the field.  Last summer, it was corn.  Next summer, it'll probably be something else.  Granted, we had a field near us in North Carolina... actually, I kind of liked North Carolina.  Maybe if we move back to the States anytime soon, we'll move back there.  Or maybe not.  I just hope we won't have to move anytime soon.

Yesterday, someone was complaining about the lack of hot water in one of the apartment buildings on one of the local installations.  I can't say I blame the woman for complaining.  It sucks to be without hot water or electricity.  I know this because I endured that for over two years in the Peace Corps.  I learned how to take bucket baths, heating my water on my propane stove or kerosene heater.  If I was lucky enough to have electricity, I could heat it with an immersion heater, but that could be dangerous.  If you stuck your hand in the water while the heater was in it, you'd be sure to get a nasty shock.

Anyway, this person said not having hot water was "inhumane".  I can't agree with that assessment.  Not having hot water is inconvenient and annoying, but it's really a first world problem.  You can get a shower at one of the local gyms, bum one from a friend, or take a bucket bath.  My last bucket bath was when we lived in Germany last time and ran out of gas.  Yes, it was annoying, especially since it was April and still kind of cold out (and because we had no gas, we also had no heat).  But it was a very temporary problem and probably good for the soul.

I do miss air conditioning when it gets especially hot outside.  Last time we lived here, we didn't have air conditioning at all.  This time, we broke down and bought one, because my office gets really uncomfortable when it's very hot outside.  I've done enough roughing it in my lifetime to justify investing in appliances that improve my quality of life.  But so far, we've only needed it a few days.  I guess in September, it'll be time to put it away until next summer, when we'll pull it out for another few days.

I love being close to so many interesting places and being able to travel so easily and comfortably.  And I don't miss the weirdness in the United States, especially pertaining to religion.  I hope we can stay here awhile.  It looks like at least another year and probably longer.


  1. There are parts of Europe where i might enjoy trying to live, though much of it scares me. i think greece is breathtakingly .
    beautiful, though even before the current fiasco, the place was a bit scary. I could see living somewhere in rural france or in Austria.

    My mom lived in Ireland for a few years when her dad was deployed and her mom took the kids home to ireland (her home0 because it was just as easy for day to visit or for us to meet up with him. my mom took us to ireland (where my dad crawled from pub to pub), but we also saw England, scotland, and wales. i could live any of those places. We stayed with relatives in ireland.

    My mom would want you to know that per capita, the scottish actually consume more booze than do the Irish. it's just that the irish drink more in pubs, while the Scots drink at home. 9The true mark of an alcoholic; one who often drinks alone; I don't know if there's any truth to that or not.) i'd like to see belgum, the netherlands, and scandinavia before deciding if i'd want to live there.

    1. Alexis, I promise you could enjoy live in most any developed country in Europe.

      Bill and I plan to visit Ireland soon. I want to go back to Scotland in the worst way... it is truly like a home to me, more than any other place I've been besides Virginia.

      I really enjoyed the Netherlands and Belgium and wouldn't mind living there if Germany gets tired of us. Italy is a little scary to me and that's more of a possibility than Holland or Belgium.

  2. Italy's too close to Greece, and their economy isn't all that stable, either

    1. Greece is awesome! Their economy is in the toilet, though.

  3. knotty, I'm so glad you're enjoying life in Germany. Our daughter has lived in Berlin for 5 years and now splits her time between there and NJ.

    Years ago we had friends who were living in Stuttgart. We went to visit and all the wife did was complain. Tiny refrigerators, no big markets, etc. She had access to free German lessons through IBM but didn't take advantage of them. I felt sorry for her. What a way to waste an opportunity!

    1. That is a pity. I have run into some people who don't like it here. I think it's a lot harder on people who are close to their families and/or can't deal with change. Since my family isn't all that close and Bill's kids disowned him over religion, we have no reason to hurry back to the States. We'll stay as long as they let us.


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