An American in Germany – what is it really like?

Obviously, everyone’s experience of life is unique.  Last week I found two different short YouTube videos by other American women living in Germany.  One was an Army wife who was in Germany for 3 years and the other was a civilian over in Berlin.

FYI – the city of Berlin, Germany is the farthest East I have ever been – at least so far in this lifetime.  The farthest West I have ever been has occurred down South in California to the Pacific Coast – I swam in the Pacific a couple of times when I visited my grandparents and cousins in childhood.  As an adult, I have gone as far West or slightly farther: the port of Seattle, Washington and Vashon Island are the farthest West I have ever been.  Most of the time I was between those extremes.

So far, life in Germany has been ‘poor but sheltered from poverty’ in a nice neighborhood but wow, it explains part of why I have not “shopped the world” or been to every play and movie that has come through the town.

In reality I have spent a lot of time on the computer in ways that I really never was before 2010.  I have done business online since 2003, but my business was never intended to be limited/restricted to being done online.  However, in 2010 – suddenly I was doing tons more online.  Back in 2009 I started a part time MBA online, but it went terribly badly.  It was even worse because of how much it did not help with social contact and dragged me into student loan debt I could not afford and had managed to avoid when I was a younger woman.

This is not the first time that I have lived in the countryside or as a foreigner in this life, but over in England they at least still speak English.  As most of you know, it has been way harder for me than I had intended or realized.  If I had not thought citizenship was such a big deal I would not have come to this country or brought my son here.  Still, the original plan had been to teach philosophy in English at a uni – which is not that uncommon here in Germany, and to have a live in lover [probably husband, but we can mince terms] and way more money.  I had also thought I would get to have a German driving license and a car but so far: No.  The Pity Party starts at 5pm but only runs for 5 minutes.

Mostly, it has been a woman hanging out muttering to herself in English and now and then feeling brave when making even little excursions.  Example:  during the first year of living here, I made it to the next village and even went out after dark a few times.  I went out after dark during the time of year when you pretty much have to if you are going to be able to do anything here in Germany because the darkness last 18 hours every friggin’ day.  I learned some German.  The second year is not over yet, but there are just 2 months left in Year 2, of living in Germany.  I have continued to care for my son and to spend time with him daily for which I am grateful even though all it is is fulfilling a familial duty of love.  I have ventured forth all the way to Bremen and even down to Oberwesel one time for a retreat.  I have ventured in the local terrain on bicycle and foot a bit more than last year.  I feel a much better sense of the local crops than I had last year and know where more of the cows and sheep and goats are living.  Even the horses.  People also still have the typical pet cat and pet dog.

Thank God for the train and the friendly farm animals.  Some people have really been kind and friendly and luckily I have learned enough German that I can often understand them but it is a little weird to confront the reality that my personality is telling me how much I don’t even care that I can’t understand them half the time.  I mean, I care so much that I want to go back to living where people speak English but I care so little that I have learned less than half as much German as my son has even though I could have learned tons more of the local language.

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