This is a series of posts about my favorite aspects of life in Germany.
Adjusting to life in Germany was difficult at first. I was excited, but honestly felt a bit overwhelmed by the rules and the differences in culture. However, the longer I live here the more I enjoy the nuances of the culture and even appreciate the rules. Moving here has opened my eyes to new experiences and ways of doing things; ultimately motivating me to evaluate and question ideas that I once thought of as the ‘norm.’
While there are still some challenges associated with living here, below in my opinion is an aspect that makes living in Germany so great.
Location – Access to Different Cultures
Germany’s central location probably tops most people’s list – well, at least most Americans. Germany is bordered by nine countries that each have their own unique cultures.
Easily explore Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Each of these countries has its own language, traditional foods and history.
Think about having the ability to jump in your car and drive to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and spend the afternoon in the Louvre, or walk across the Charles Bridge in Prague, or ski and toboggan down the Alps, or drink beer and eat waffles in Ghent, or float down the canals in Amsterdam.
I love seeing the traditional architecture of each region. To me, it expresses what the past inhabitants of the region valued and what life was like.
Having the opportunity to explore and experience these different cultures has been amazing. My husband and I are especially grateful for being able to share this with our nine-year-old daughter. We hope these experiences will help her expand her worldview and evaluate ideas on a deeper level – realizing that there is more than one way to approach a situation or problem.
I suggest at least learning the basics of each language in order to show respect to the locals. A little prep goes a long way. Don’t assume that they know English. I use Duolingo to learn the languages. My focus is on German (Deutsche), but each time we travel to a new country, I learn the basics of the language where we are traveling.
I suggest at a minimum knowing how to say:
- Thank you
- I do not understand.
- Do you speak English?
- May I speak English?
I have found that the locals of a region and or country appreciate the attempt you make. Most know some English (their English is probably better than your French, etc.) Attempting the language is a sign or respect.
On a different note, let’s talk about food. If you want to try some of the traditional foods of the country or region, I suggest asking your waiter/waitress for recommendations.
Also, to avoid landing in a tourist trap, try restaurants away from the main squares and ask your hotel concierge or Airbnb manager for suggestions. We actually received a really great restaurant recommendation from our tour guide in Verona, Italy. It was a restaurant not easily found by tourists and a location popular with locals. It had the BEST Amarone rice – traditional food of the region. It is unlikely we would’ve found it without a recommendation.
Still on food, if you are traveling with a child, I suggest at least making them try the traditional foods of the region. You might be surprised what he or she likes. My daughter loves escargot and crepes, spaetzle and bratwurst, seafood pasta, etc. All of these foods, she tried on our trips.
One more recommendation, stay in an Airbnb if possible. It makes the experience feel more authentic. If not an Airbnb, try a local hotel or inn. Staying at a chain isn’t quite as immersive or enjoyable in my opinion.
Germany’s location is perfect for easily experiencing and exploring new cultures. I love it here.
Next Sunday, I’ll reveal my thoughts about alcohol in Germany.