Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pros and Cons about Moving to Germany

Our move is only 26 days away and to say that I'm excited is an understatement.  But with all the excitement it has me thinking about what I'm going to miss about the United States and comparing what I expect to see in Germany.   Just like any other person prepping for a big PCS overseas, I've been doing my homework and researching opinions, etc.  Of course, everyone has differing opinions but this is what I'm finding...

Reasons to miss the US
1. Family and Friends-  It's going to be tough leaving everyone behind but I'm sincerely hoping that those closest to me can make it over for a visit or I can see them soon.

2. English being the primary language-  I know that many if not most Germans know English, but as an individual that is residing in THEIR homeland, I can't automatically assume that if I walk into a restaurant and start speaking English, the waiter is going to understand me.  It's going to be an interesting adjustment as I cope with being the "outsider".

3.  Being the majority-  I have read so many posts from people saying that even if they don't speak, Germans can generally immediately recognize Americans.  I have heard mixed signals about how friendly Germans can be so I don't have too many expectations in that area but either way it's going to be hard getting used to being "the American".

4.  Target-  I currently live a stone's throw away from a Target store, and in California, I lived only about 3/4 of mile away from one.  When I found out there wasn't a Target in Germany I about crashed.  Half of my household goods and quite a bit of my decor is actually from there so it nearly breaks my heart to realize that after we leave the US, I wont be walking into one for about 3 years.  I know, I know, there will be other stores for me to get my kicks, but none with the same familiarity and comfort.

Reasons to be excited for Germany
1. Traveling- I've never left the country, not even to Mexico when I lived about 5 hours away from the border.  The proximity of Germany to other countries is really going to be a shock since I've been so isolated to the US for my entire life.  I am deeply excited to travel throughout Europe in the next 3 years and get my feel for the culture and lifestyle abroad.

2.  Pace- This could probably count for either a pro or a con.  The lifestyle is perceived as much more lax when it comes to their daily pace.  Restaurant visits normally don't take less than an hour or two and you are expected to take a load off and relax for a few.  Sometimes Americans can get so caught up with their "to-do's"  (Guilty!) or errands that they forget to stop and smell the roses.  I would greatly appreciate a slower lifestyle that could lower the blood pressure a bit; but at the same time, it's nice to conveniently rush through some parts of the day in order to cross the finish line at the end.  We'll see if this ranks more in the pro or the con side after we arrive.

3.  Public Transportation-  We are currently a single car family and I've been wrestling with the idea of getting a second vehicle.  It will largely depend on how well we get along with public transportation overseas.  The public transit in Europe is supposed to be supurib and if so it would save us on a car payment and outrageous gas prices.  I'm all for public transportation if it allows me to get where I need to go in a decent amount of time.  While I was growing up I absolutely refused to take the bus because in order to get somewhere that would take 10 minutes by car, you would be on the bus for over an hour.  It was absolutely ridiculous and a waste of time.  Which is why when we moved and couldn't take my car with us, I gave it to my Mother-in-law who was currently riding the bus everywhere.  I couldn't stand the thought of her having to spend 4 hours to get to and from a doctor's appointment.  I'm hoping for a huge improvement in the transit department.

4.  Beer- You can't write a positive list about Germany without including beer.  Everyone I have talked to has at some point mentioned the beer and has suggested tasting the local beer at each town we visit in Germany.  Apparently there are much more small town local breweries than can be found in the US, so that's exactly what we're going to do...

5. Festivals, Markets, Tours-  The list of things to do in Germany is ENDLESS!  We missed Oktoberfest (sad day), but we'll be making it just in time for all the Christmas markets (yay!).  There are many farmers markets and such that are always going for super fresh foods and always a shopping opportunity in the making.  There are tours of castles, vineyards, and historical landmarks.  Ahhhhh.... I just get so giddy when I think about leaving a town where the most interesting thing to do is go to the movies and transitioning into what's to be expected to be a chance of a lifetime.

6. Recycling-  I honestly believe in recycling.  In Georgia recycling isn't made the easiest in the world.  There are no nearby can recycling posts and since I live in an apartment, it's almost impossible to recycle cardboard and plastic individually.  We are provided with a community dumpster and no place to put recyclables which is actually really heart breaking.  I don't want to even think about how much our trash could have been minimized and how much we could have helped the recycling community if we had the opportunity to for the past several months.  In my past home in California, we not only recycled cans but separated out plastics and paper and were able to recycle efficiently.  It reduced our trash and made us feel better about what we were doing for the community.  I hope to pick up the habit of recycling again quickly when we move and be able to do our part.

This list is on-going but I was sitting here this morning thinking about all of this and couldn't resist posting something.  The reason I'm posting this BEFORE we move is because I want to see if these items really do hold up.  Will I really miss the things I say I'll miss??? Or will I really develop into a lover of German lifestyle???  Who knows, only time will tell.

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