I’m creeping up on 4 months in Germany, and I’ve certainly seen and learned a lot. I try to keep reminding myself to appreciate all the things I experience here that I won’t have when I go back home. It’s easy to forget! So in order to make note of a bit of what’s new, here are 7 things I have come to love about Germany:
1. Small Town Life
I probably wasn’t the only city kid who sometimes dreamed of escaping my urban neighborhood and living somewhere with more trees and fewer cars. There are definitely big cities in Germany, but I happen to live in a sweet little town where I wake up to the prettiest views every morning.
2. Haselnuss Flavor
So, the thing I was secretly most excited about when I came to Germany might have been the widespread availability of Nutella. But Hazelnuts aren’t just for Nutella anymore! You can buy Hazelnut ice cream, Hazelnut coffee, and Hazelnuts are the peanuts of trail mix here. Even better, a lot of neighborhoods are full of Hazelnut trees, and in the fall they drop thousands of ripe nuts on the ground. Little kids go out with bags and collect them to eat.
3. 500-year-old Houses
Geologically speaking, America is just as old as Germany. But when it comes to tangible, touchable history, Europe is the place to be. For example, there are houses in my neighborhood that are over 500 years old. I did a little snooping around last week and found a few of them.
Ruhetag means “day off”. In Rodenberg, the whole town takes a day off on Sundays. Really – you can’t buy toothpaste on Sundays unless you want to drive into Hannover. It certainly is frustrating when you need Rittersport chocolate on a Saturday night and realize you’re going to have to wait until Monday morning to get it, but I’m learning to appreciate getting to really let down one day a week, rather than filling it up with all the errands I didn’t have time for on the other six days.
5. Creepy Crawlies
Okay, so this is probably only relevant to me, and may not be the best sales pitch for Germany, but there are some legitimately cool bugs here! Most notably, an abundance of snails (Schnecken), and slugs (Nacktschnecken – naked snails). And these aren’t little wimpy things; we’re talking two, three, four inchers. I find that awesome, except when I’m trying to avoid running over them with my bike after a rain (sorry, little guys!).
6. Mandatory Fresh Air
Germans have a reputation for having this thing about leaving their windows open. “Okay,” I thought, “so on nice summer days everybody opens their windows. That’s not so remarkable.” Only here I am, in November, after the first snow, and the windows in every classroom are wide open when I get to school in the morning. Well, I learned to bundle up pretty fast, and now I’m definitely getting used to breathing in fresh country air all day. (On a side note, German high schools actually have windows to open.)
7. A Fairy Tale Christmas
The Christmas season is just beginning, I know… but that means that Christmas decorations are just beginning to go up and Christmas things are just beginning to be sold. And a Christmas in this tiny town, with handmade crafts and premium German chocolate, is promising to be magical. But there will be more on that to come!
So, these were the first seven things that came to my mind…I guess it’s hardly an exhaustive list! And, of course, there are plenty of things I miss about the good ol’ U.S. of A. as well. I’ll probably write about that in a couple of weeks. Subscribe so you don’t miss it! (Update: read “7 Things I Miss About America”.)