The One with Living in Germany

Monday, December 30, 2013

We've lived in Germany working for the Army for almost 6 months! Time flies when you're having fun!
People here say that's how long it takes to "adjust". I'd like to think we've loved it from the second we got here, but it's true that some things take getting used to. Here are some differences that I've noticed living abroad:

Lights take forever-and-a-day to turn on. We've found a brand of lightbulb that's a bit faster and brighter, but most of the lights in our house still take about 5 minutes before they're at their full potential. Random, I know, but it's something to get used to!
You HAVE to recycle or you're fined.
Garbage only comes every other week.
Recycling comes once a month.
You have to pick up your mail at the post office, it's not delivered.
Mail only comes M-F, not Saturday like in the states.
You have a fill out a customs form for every.single.thing you send in the mail from here to anywhere. Paperclips included... Ask me about that if you're really curious, it's a whopper of a story...
No speed limit on the autobahn! That's something to get used to - freedom to drive as fast as you want!
Along with driving - all of the roadsigns are different, and in German! I had to pass a driving course to get my international license.
And again with driving, the roads are skinny as all get out! Narrow narrow narrow! They definitely weren't made for large American SUVs! And parking spots are teeny weeny. We see about 50 Smart Cars for every 1 SUV.
There is one American grocery store on base that sells food from home. 
You can't bag and take your own groceries at the American grocery store, you have to pay the person to do it.
You have to bring your own bags to German stores or pay for their plastic ones.
The biggest size of milk is a 1/2 gallon carton - no more two gallon jugs from Costco!
No Costco, no Target, no Anthropologie, or pretty much ANY American store you can think of. Wait - I thought of some - IKEA and H&M :)
Let's just say every toilet everywhere has a wand right beside it to 'scrape' with.
There is only one movie theater that oftentimes only shows a movie one time and it's always a couple weeks later than when it's released in the states. As a previous movie buff, this is definitely one of the harder changes!
No cable TV. I miss HGTV!!!
There's only one American radio station hosted by the Army.
We pay our fast and tithing online through Wells Fargo bill pay, not checks to the bishop.
The PX (the everyday convenience store on base) is expensive, so we do a lot of our shopping online at and get free shipping with Prime.
No Hulu or Netflix - we've found our way around that with a service called "Hide My A$$" which changes our VPN to a stateside address.
The language barrier... Sometimes I feel like I can't read because everything I see is in a different language. It's all jibberish! I've officially decided to try to learn German. How cool would that be to be able to speak another language?
It's a completely different system for measuring things. Kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour. Centimeters instead of inches. So on and so forth. 
When it comes to numbers and money, they use periods instead of commas and commas instead of periods. For example, in the states $1,345.67 would be 1.345,67. Well, after the exchange rate it'd be different!
Which is another thing - it's a different currency here. Euros instead of dollars. And the dollar only gets about 71 Euro cents.
The VAT tax - everything here is taxed 19%. Yeah. That's a lot. But some big stores like IKEA and H&M take VAT forms so we can get that 19% back because we're from the US.
The plugs and voltages are different. I shorted out our white noise machine because it was 110 volts instead of the European 220 volts. Oopsies.
The weather.... wah wah... After living in perpetually sunny weather in SoCal for 4 years the weather is one of the biggest changes to get used to. It's dark, cold, foggy, snowy, and FREEZING in the winters, which is now. It gets me down. But then we travel south to Italy where it's warm and sunny and all is right with the world :)
The time difference. It's hard sometimes being 9 hours ahead of my family. I can only chat with my mom from 4-10pm and 6-7am my time. I used to be able to chat anytime! But we make do and I'm thankful for G-chat and email.
Everything here looks like a painting! I'll never get over it!
It only takes 6 hours to drive instead of 15 hours to fly to Italy! And 2 hours to drive to Prague, an hour to Nuremberg, 5 hours to Paris, 7 hours to Amsterdam, and a bajillion other amazing places that we've never dreamed of going to but feasibly could!

Basically, even though this sounds like a lot to get used to, we are loving our time abroad and all the changes that come with it. It'll be a fun 3 or 4 year jaunt and then we'll return to the states ready to take on our next adventure!


  1. Loved reading this! If you decide to visit Amsterdam (or any other Dutch city) and want to meet up, just let me know!!

  2. Great post Paige!!! then you must be about 5-6 hours from Switzerland. Do let me know, if you plan to visit :)Good luck with German, actually it becomes a bit easy for english speakers :)

  3. Great notes, Paige. I always dream of living in Europe for a couple years. Like you said simply by getting on a train or car you could be at another country with totally different view or culture within few hours. Enjoy your time there!!

  4. Loving this post and I think it's awesome about getting fined for not recycling ... they should do that in the states!! :)

  5. I'd like a chance to "get used to" all of that!

  6. I'm originally from Germany and lived in the States for 7 years now. Loved this blog, a lot of the things you mentioned I had already forgotten and it cracked me up! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I miss Costco, Arby's, American movie theaters, and not having a 20% VAT. However, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so happy to be experiencing it with you and our kiddos. Deutschland, Deutschland über alles!

  8. Love to read about all the adjustments, as I'm living in Europe for almost 3 years now. If you're ever in south Austria (around Graz) we can exchange stories:) Wish you all the best, I love your work, and happy new year!

  9. It sounds like you are really enjoying your time over there! Soooooooooo happy for you, Paige;)

    I sure do miss living there-- the trips to other places is the BEST! I loved traveling…. so make sure you go somewhere at least once a month!

    I forgot how we had to pay for the bagger at the grocery store! That was so difficult for me because I never had cash in my purse! LOL!

    Happy NEW Year <3

  10. this was such an interesting read! My brother is currently living in Germany for the Air Force... small world! :)

  11. Hey Paige we finally got our orders! Woo hooo Oh I wrote you before about us moving to Germnay but I am not sure if you remember. Anyway we will be in Landstuhl area.Ok I thought there was Netflix and hulu? That's what we were hoping for. DANG IT! We bought the kids tablets so they can atleast watch some stuff.So no CABLE at all...period! Should we even bring our TV's? Oh man, now that I have 6 months to get there I am in a bit of a panic as to what we should and should not take? what to plan for? I was preparing for this but now my brain is a mush and starting to worry.oy!


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