May 16, 2013

Pros & Cons of Living in Germany : Part Vier

PRO: Dogs
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If you've got a dog, living in Germany would be like a dream to you and your four-legged friend. Germany (as well as many other countries in Europe) is extremely dog friendly. You can take your dog into almost every store and restaurant in Germany. If you leave your pup outside an establishment, chances are they have a water bowl already set up there for your pup's comfort. Great, huh? What's even cooler? Dogs are SO well behaved here! In fact, half the dogs walking around here don't even wear leashes! I think they're probably "supposed" to, but from what I've seen of dogs here, they're really not needed. Dogs are SO well behaved here! It blows mind mind. They don't run out in the streets chasing after squirrels. They don't wander away from their owners. They don't even stop to sniff you when you're running past them in the park. Perfectly behaved, every single one of them. If our dog, Tuck, was here...he'd be a holy terror. He'd surely be the first Dachshund to ever be kicked out of Germany.

CON: Cost of Living
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Guys, living here is NOT CHEAP.  One of the first things D and I did upon receiving orders to Germany was look up the euro exchange rate against the dollar. It fluctuates daily, but it's definitely never in our favor. On average, 1 euro (€) = $1.30. We've had to train ourselves to not think in terms of US dollars while living here, though. Mostly because it's depressing. Alex from Ifs, Ands, & Butts blog wrote an excellent post a while back comparing the cost of living in Karlsruhe, Germany (about 1.5 hrs from where we live) to her hometown of Houston, Texas. It totally blew my mind, so I had to do my own comparison. According to Expatistan, it's 54% more expensive to live in Frankfurt, Germany (about 20 miles from where we live in Wiesbaden) to Greensboro, NC (about 30 miles from our hometown in North Carolina). Ridiculous, right? Granted, the military does give us COLA (cost of living allowance) to help offset the euro, but it only goes so far. Most of that is spent at the end of the year when we have to bulk pay for our heat and energy usage for that year. For living in a home without air conditioning in supposedly the most energy efficient country in the world, it almost makes zero sense why our energy bill is so stinkin' high. I know what many of you are thinking. How in the world can we afford to travel so much if everything is so expensive here? My answer to you is...we may travel a lot, but that's seriously all we do. No firvolous shopping trips (because clothing/shoes/makeup/accessories are so much more expensive here), no once a week restaurant outings like we would in the states (a $20 meal for two at Chili's would cost you double to triple that here), and no wandering into Target for one item and walking out 2 hours later $200 poorer (one good thing about having no Target here!). We choose to spend our money traveling. Simple as that. There is lots and lots more I could tell you about this topic, so be looking out for its own separate (and depressing) post in the near future. 

PRO: Bretzels und Spundekäse

Even though it's expensive to live here in Deutschland, the giant bretzels (pretzels if you didn't already deduce that) and the creamy, cheesy delight called Spundekäse just might make up for it. At first, D and I weren't bit fans of the pretzels here. I think we made the mistake of trying one that had been sitting out for longer than it should have, because it was tough. Not warm and soft like you'd imagine all pretzels here are. But slowly we've found our favorite pretzel-serving bakeries and subsequently have the thunder thighs to prove it. Now, usually where there are pretzels, there's also Spundekäse. Spundekäse is like a cream cheese-like spreadable dip that's made with quark (a curd cheese almost like cottage cheese, minus the lumps), crème fraîche, garlic, onion, and paprika. It's basically heaven in your mouth. We order it at every festival we visit...usually accompanied by a pretzel as big as your face. Definitely a must try when visiting Germany.

CON: Shower Baths

How the fudge are these still in existence? I ask myself that every single time we stay in a German hotel. Not EVERY German hotel has them, but I'd say about 85% of the ones we've stayed in had shower baths. They are so not practical to me. The hand held sprayer thingie only goes up so far on that little bar, so getting completely underneath the sprayer is like a contorting act. In addition, there's usually no curtain or partition, so you end up spraying water all over the bathroom. I believe the German way of bathing is to get wet, turn off the water, scrub, turn on the hand held sprayer, and rinse off. I guess all this just to conserve water? Who knows. What I do know, is that I don't like them. Unfortunately, the shower bath pictured above is the one in our very own bathroom. Do you think it gets used? Not a chance. Ok, maybe just for bubble baths, but also we have a stand alone shower for our normal American bathing purposes.

PRO: Gummy Bears

Germans are nuts about their gummy bears. And truthfully, so am I. I enjoyed eating them back in the states, but it wasn't until moving to Germany that I really started to appreciate the candy delight that is the German gummy bear. Gummy bear's were actually created in Germany by the famous Haribo candy company in the 1920's. Although, it wasn't until the early 80's that America caught on to the gummy craze. Here in Germany, stores devote entire grocery aisles to these colorful candies. You can find them in every shape, size, and flavor under the sun. My favorite gummy bear store, Bären Company, has the best variety (and softest) gummy bears I've ever tasted. Best flavor? Pink Prosecco. SO. FLIPPIN'. GOOD. There's a store downtown just a 10 minute walk from our flat. I may or may not make a stop there once a month to stock up. ;) I might just have to do a big German gummy bear giveaway on the blog one day. You know, to share the wealth. They taste so different (and so much better) than the gummies in the states! I swear it.

CON: Nude beaches/lakes/rivers

Some of you may be thinking, "How is THIS a con?" But, I'm here to tell you, in my book, it is. Why? Because the people who you normally wouldn't mind seeing nude out in public, aren't the ones showing off their goodies. I wrote about my first unavoidable glimpse of German boobies upon returning from our anniversary vacation to Lake Constance last July. You can reminisce (and gag) along with me here. ;)

PRO: Multilingual people
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This pro is more directed at Europe in general than just Germany. I am constantly overwhelmed by the myriad of different languages that are spoken here. Not just by a community of people, but by one single person. Germans often speak multiple languages. Most speak English fluently and many speak French. Crazy story: D and I go to an international English bible study in Frankfurt each week. In our group, we have people from Korea, France, Madagascar, England, Germany, and the USA. Everyone, but D and I, are bilingual. Most of them are trilingual. And a few of them are quadralingual. Needless to say, D and I feel like such language losers when we're around them. It makes me sad that many Americans are just like we are...unilingual individuals. It's partially my fault, for not sticking to learning Spanish or even German fluently when I had the opportunity,  but the finger should also be pointed at American school systems & curriculum. Programs in the states are not nearly as language focused as they are here in Europe. Germans are taught English fairly intensively from very young ages and continue to learn English all throughout various stages of their education. I guess having so many languages all housed in one small continent makes learning them more of a necessity than a luxury, but still...it's amazing. Bravo, Europe!

*Please keep in mind that all of these pros & cons are formed simply from my experiences and perspective as an American living abroad*
You can find the other installments of my Pros & Cons of living in Germany here, here, & here.

Auf Wiedersehen!

12 comments:

  1. Some of your pros and cons are the same for Japan. It's expensive here too, but some of that is just because we are American. We are charged more for rent on a place than a local would be. Sure, we get our OHA, but it's still crazy. Our utilities are ridiculous too. We don't have heat though. We would all seriously die without A/C here. The conversion rate sucked here for a long time too, it was like 84 yen to the dollar when we got here, but it's pretty even at the moment. I have to wonder though. Do you have the water heater's in the bathroom you have to turn on the night before to have a hot shower in the morning? I hated those when I was there.

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  2. Another lovely post about my current home :oD

    Thanks for sharing!

    xoxo
    Anni

    P.S.: My sis and I are still laughing about that poop shelf!

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  3. Gah love this entire series of yours, which I'm pretty sure I say every time, but still. I never knew how much I loved pretzels before moving here, now it's a slight addiction and ahve to tell myself it is a treat, not a daily necessity. Thanks for the link love and can't wait to hear about the cruise!

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  4. The gummy bears in Germany are so fresh. That was one of my favorite parts about our trip when we went. I LOVE the really fresh ones that are still soft and springy, and they are so hard to find in the States!

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  5. LOVE This! Prosecco gummies? yes please!

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  6. I love this series! I agree with almost everything you've posted about the pros and cons of living here :) Have you tried the Haribo gummy bears made with juice? SO GOOD. I can eat an entire bag in one sitting (and then regret it immediately).

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  7. I have to admit I laughed a little about the money one because living in Sweden we think of Germany as cheap! I also feel you with being a language dud my husband is fluent in Swedish and English, can read Danish and Norwegian, and read and speak German proficiently which makes me proud and envious all at the same time! The thing is though with all that language knowledge when we go to other places like Belgium he picks up on the French so easily and annoys me even more!

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  8. Gosh i love your pros and cons post . I am german and i totally think the same when it comes to shower baths ...really annoying. Living here is really expensive but in Sweden or Norway it's way more expensive.
    And when it comes to beeing bilingual...yes, we learn english from the 5th grade on and normally you have to choose a second language when you're in the 7th grade (i choosed french). You can learn spanish, french or latin...depends on the school. So i can speak english, french and spanish....pretty good if you're traveling a lot.

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  9. I always love these posts on your blog. Can I just say you can never post enough food in Germany photos. I am always drooling. x

    Bonnie Rose | a Compass Rose

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  10. I love your pros and cons! :) It is a good thing to do, as, at least for me, days sometimes are just pro or just cons! :) Love the ones with the dog! :D

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  11. Love this posts especially because I am German and it is interesting to see how you see "my country". Did not recognize all of these things until now.

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