Since moving to Germany 4 years ago, I continuously seem to have one main conversation whenever I meet someone new. It goes something like this:
Friend/Student/Stranger: “Where are you from?”
Me: “I’m from California”
People in Europe are usually dumbfounded by my solo move to Germany 4 years ago and why I am still here. Most Europeans dream of at least visiting America one day, if not finding a way to work abroad. The world believes that America is the best country in the world, home of the free. The country known for “Liberty and Justice for All” where men, women and children of any background are all created equal.
We have American Football, Cheetos and Budweiser and good burgers. How could I possibly leave this all behind?
Well, since I was in the 8th grade (13 years old), I have studied German and had a love affair with the fairy tale castles that were plastered to the walls of my classroom. Then one summer, in 2000, my family did a big trip to Europe. Part of that trip included learning about family history between Austria, Germany & Switzerland. It was on this trip that I met our tour guide, who spoke 8 languages fluently. I wanted to be like her. Throughout my school career, I studied German, French and Spanish, only to have German stick the most.
There has always been some kind of connection to Germany for me. It was more than just the language. I would return in summer 2003 to live with a German family for a one month exchange program, go to a German high school, come back again in 2007 to study abroad at the University of Heidelberg and finally uproot my entire life to Germany in 2012.
So, let’s start with the obvious reasons why I truly moved to Germany:
1. The architecture inspires romance and beauty
I am a dreamer at heart and love to live in a world where there are beautiful places, romantic stories, far off lands with princes and princesses. Some would say I watched too much Disney as a kid, but I beg to differ.
In a world that can be so cruel and ugly sometimes, it’s nice to be able to escape to somewhere incredibly beautiful and romantic, to a time long gone and admire the intricate craftsmanship that went into building such magical masterpieces. In today’s world, this kind of passion to inspire magic seems to have disappeared. Creating the newest expensive piece of technology overnight isn’t the same as admiring historical feats of architecture that took hundreds of years to build.
If you’ve ever visited some of Germany’s most picturesque towns, like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Monschau or Bacharach, you know just how picture perfect these cobbled-stoned towns really are! Germany comes in at #5 in the world with 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
And should I meet prince charming, all the better! Oh wait, I already did that!
2. I wanted to improve my German before I lost it
Clearly, it makes sense to move to a foreign country where you know some of the language and will be able to get by. I had studied German for a long time, but the five years prior to moving, I hadn’t used it. I was afraid all that hard effort was going to be lost if I didn’t use it.
Yes, that is one grammatically correct word in German….
I wanted to give it a real shot at learning real German, not classroom German. Even when I had “studied abroad” there wasn’t much chance for me to learn or use German because I didn’t have roommates or German friends. I had other exchange student friends who all spoke English.
I admit when I got here, I could hardly remember much of my German. But 4 years later, I am able to have flowing conversations, give or take a few grammar and pronunciation mistakes.
3. The landscape is absolutely stunning
If you have ever seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the magical car is flying over lush green Alpine mountains and lakes as they land at the castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein) in the fictional town of Vulgaria, you might realize that they were actually flying over Bavaria.
While a good portion of Germany looks pretty similar, there is definitely way move than just the Alps. From the Alps in the South to the Baltic Sea in the North, Germany has some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen, even just minutes outside of big cities.
We constantly prefer to drive everywhere we go because then we can better enjoy the scenery. Most Germans are astounded that we are willing to drive 5 hours one way in a single day, just to turn around and come home again late that night. But when you’re driving along roads with such beautiful scenery, those 5 hours go by so fast when your nose is glued to the window of the passenger seat.
4. Germany has a very unique and interesting history & culture
While the USA was being created, Germany was building castles. Compared to Germany, the US is still very young and while I find American history interesting, I find European history even more thrilling! Kings and Queens ruling and building magnificent castles (ok, at the expensive of its people) but you have to admit, it created some of the world’s most fascinating Bucket List destinations!
Germany specifically has an interesting history which I have always found to be both very interesting and tragic at the same time. That history created the Germany we know today, always trying to be better than their past, moving the world forward and being among the global leaders today.
Growing up in America today, there seems to be a loss of cultural history, especially in California. We are a blend of multiple cultures and from that have created new cultural identities and traditions. We don’t go around wearing traditional Pilgrim outfits on Thanksgiving Day (for the record, why don’t we!? I would!). We don’t have songs that we chant to for our favorite football teams. (I might be wrong there, but I’ve never heard any). We don’t have cultural festivals like Oktoberfest that have been around for 100+ years. German culture is one of a kind and it’s incredibly interesting to learn about cultural traditions that still happen today that started hundreds of years ago.
Plus, let’s me honest ladies, men in Lederhosen are HOT! (ok, not the older men in the picture above haha)
5. For traveling purposes, Germany is right smack in the middle of Europe
Ok, so I got lucky with this aspect of moving to Germany and to be honest, I didn’t realize it until one day I realized that Germany is surrounded by 9 countries! If ever there was a country to move to because you wanted to travel, Germany would be a great home base! It takes only a few hours to get to any of these 9 countries! by train or air! A few hours driving in America and I’m still in the same state!
6. The beer, the bread, the salami is DELICIOUS
I’m not gonna like. The food here is awesome! You just can’t get a delicious Schnitzel anywhere in the US, no matter how hard you try. You just gotta have the original. With a good German beer. Once you have tasted the delicious taste of German beer, bread and salami, you will never be able to go back to what you drank or ate before!
Thanks to the world’s oldest food law, the “Beer Purity Law” implemented on April 23, 1516 which is still used today, Germany has strict laws about what ingredients go into making good beer, therefore, promising a tasty, quality beer with every pop of the cap!
7. The most MAGICAL Christmas Markets
I’ve always LOVE, LOVE, LOVED Christmas time! The holly jolly, warm and fuzzy feeling of buying gifts and wrapping them in pretty paper to give to friends and loved ones. Coming from SoCal, our Christmas’ were hot and sunny, short shorts weather and I always dreamed of a white Christmas, bundled up in cute winter clothes, sipping on hot cocoa. That dream never came true.
But moving to Germany is as close to reaching that goal as I’ve come. I still haven’t experienced a “White Christmas”, but getting all bundled up to go out Christmas shopping and sipping on Glühwein is a tradition I have fallen head over heels for and look forward to the most ever since my first Christmas Market in Heidelberg. It’s honestly the best time of year in Germany! Being able to experience this magical Christmas feeling every year is worth moving to Germany!
8. The public transportation is immaculate
I was not even considered about how I would get anywhere in Germany upon moving here after having sold my car, Betsy. Germany has a top notch transportation system both with buses and trains. Ok, there is the occasional delay but you can go anywhere in Germany, or Europe for that matter via bus or train.
After Henry Ford introduced the Model T and the assembly line, trains practically became obsolete in the US as our towns and cities were built around having cars. And once the invention of flying came, there was practically no point for taking a journey across the country by train. Which is incredibly sad because it’s the best way to see a lot of the scenic country. I know the US still has trains for this very reason, but Americans are less likely to use it.
Plus, I can easily ride my bike anywhere I want in the city and know I won’t get ran off the road. Germany and Europe make it a point to create biker-friendly towns and roads, therefore, de-cluttering the streets with cars that pollute the environment.
9. Germany’s 4 seasons are completely magical
As previously mentioned, I’m from California where it’s hot and sunny all the time. So hot and sunny in fact that most of California is sadly brown and dead, and it is not always lush and green. Especially lately.
So, I’m like a freak at the window of our house whenever there is a big rain, snow, thunderstorm.
That being said, Germany has some of the most beautiful, breathtaking four seasons. California has one. One can only handle so much sunshine. From the colorful fall foliage of oranges, reds, yellows and browns to the vibrant colors of Spring flowers every season is more magical than the last.
10. Why not?
I was young, unmarried and didn’t have children. I didn’t own a house with a mortgage, have a long term steady career. I didn’t and don’t have health problems. I had a heart yearning for adventure. Germany is safe, I knew the country already and it was easy to find an English speaking teaching job. So why not? YOLO, right?
I know I won’t be here forever, but for now Germany is my home and I love exploring this beautiful country. You learn more about your own country through the eyes of others and it has been entertaining.
While the novelty of moving to Germany has definitely worn off in the last year or so, and I might have the occasional rant about Germans and their strange behaviors and the woos of being a long term expat, these are just the things that make living in Germany so wonderful.
If these are good enough reasons for me, they will be good enough reasons for you if you’ve been thinking about moving abroad! Living in Germany has been a wonderful and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about making the move!
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