Jul 24, 2014

12 Ways Living in Germany Made Me a Better Person


1| I've become well-versed in cooking my own delicious Mexican food favorites.
Queso Blanco? Perfected it. Arroz con Pollo & Enchiladas Verde? I'm a master. Homemade Guac & Margaritas? None can beat mine. When you can't find great Mexican food in your host country, you learn to make your own. And you save money in the process. Everyone's invited over for a fiesta...as soon as I get furniture, of course.

2| I now enjoy a good cup of coffee.
Not really sure this makes me a better person, but it sure does make me feel good! Before moving to Germany, I was mostly a tea drinker (except for the occasional super sweet Starbucks indulgence). Today, I can't go a morning without a good cup of joe. Look at me all grown up and sophisticated! [eye roll] ;) Europe had stellar coffee and lovely cafes to drink it in. Spoiled me rotten, I tell ya. I'm currently scouting out cappuccino/latte makers for our kitchen, so send me any suggestions you've got!


3| I actually go to parks now.
Parks. What a novel idea! Why don't many Americans go to parks? I rarely did before living in Germany. Now, I'm all like...LET'S GO PICNIC! And run! And just lay out in the grass staring up at the clouds like the Europeans do! I really miss our giant, green park just down the hill from our German flat. It was always filled with people doing all kinds of fun activities. The parks here in Florida are small (at least the ones in our area)...or they're beaches. I know, I know...you're playing the world's smallest violin for me now, aren't you?

4| I can parallel park like a friggin' pro.
Living in a flat with no garage or designated parking space meant D and I had to get really good at parallel parking...and real quick! Street parking was a total pain in our butts for 3 years, but at least one new skill was acquired out of the inconvenience. Any new drivers out there need lessons? I charge in hugs.

5| I'm a more aware and efficient driver.
Pass on the left only. Slow drivers in the far right lane--always. No trucks in fast lanes (except to pass). No lingering in the passing lane. Germany gets these things right! It's illegal not to follow these rules there. Now, if I could only get everyone in America on board, we'd be golden! Germany may have had pushy drivers, but they sure were smart about their Autobahn rules. They just make sense. The only rule I'm glad is out the door now that I'm back stateside? No right turn on red...ever. Feels so freeing to be able to do that again!


6| I've developed an affinity for long lunching.
Don't ask me out to lunch unless you plan on sitting there with me for a couple of hours. Not kidding. The whole "slow living" phenomenon that Europe is so famous for totally rubbed off on me, in certain ways at least. Lunches and dinners out in Germany usually meant 3 hours of dining and chatting. It was so nice to really enjoy my food and our company. Here, everything is so rush, rush, rush! Even more reason to slow down and just be in the moment. Don't worry, if I linger too long at a restaurant or cafe here stateside, I make sure to leave a heftier tip. Small price to pay for a less-hurried life.

7| Germany helped me rekindle my love for yogurt and granola.
German yogurt was the bomb. Probably because it was almost always full fat. If I ever wanted a sweet treat, I'd stock up on German brands of yogurt (and their equally delicious muesli--granola, to us Americans). Now that I'm back stateside, I've stuck to my yogurt obsession, only healthified it a bit. Yay for probiotics!


8| Sundays have become a true day of rest.
Even though I complained about it a lot, there was really something to having everything closed on Sundays in Germany. The day was quieter, slower, more relaxing before the hustle and bustle of the work week began. We replaced running post-church errands with spending time with friends; family, if they were in town. Hopefully we can keep up that tradition here in Florida.

9| I look forward to recycling things.
I thought this would change the second I stepped foot off the plane back in America, but I'm happy to say I still feel the urge recycle things. Unfortunately, we can't recycle all of the same things we did in Germany, but it's still a heck of a lot more than we were doing before our 3-year stent abroad. I feel much more environmentally cautious today than I did in my pre-Germany life. Feels awesome.

10| I've become an excellent care-package sender.
My affinity for snail mail skyrocketed while we were living in Europe. Living so far from home--cards, care packages, and postcards we almost a necessity to keep me engaged with my loved ones. I LOVED putting packages together and sending them off to friends and family. Snail mail is dying these days (which makes me incredibly sad), so I'm trying to help save it...one care package at a time.


11| I've learned so much about world geography, different cultures, food, etc.
Do you know where Luxembourg is located? I do. And the tiny counties of San Marino, Aurora, and Liechtenstein. Before moving to Europe, I had no idea 2 out of the 4 of those even existed. It's amazing how worldly you become after living somewhere other than your home country. I feel so grateful to have been able to expand my global knowledge and to have so many amazing stories to share with our future children.

12| I'm acutely aware of my American loudness...and I correct it.
One of the main things I noticed while living in Germany was how incredibly loud Americans can be...myself included. I was never belligerent or so loud you'd have to tell me to shut up, but Americans, in general, tend to talk louder than most Europeans. Not sure why that is exactly, but since moving back stateside, I'm constantly checking my loudness in public settings so as to not draw attention to myself. In turn, I'm now ultra aware of other people's loudness. I kind of hope this change blows over with time, because I'm annoyed out in public more often. No wonder Germans seemed so cranky some days!

If you've ever lived in a foreign country, did certain things about you change when you returned home? 
Share your experiences!

52 comments:

  1. It really is incredible the lessons you learn by living abroad or traveling a lot, when you stop and think about it, it's really fulfilling to see how far you've come after experiences in other countries!

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    1. Totally agree. Very fulfilling to know living somewhere other than my home country could shape me into someone more accepting of other ways of life. It's been fun incorporating some of our favorite European attributes into our everyday lives here in Florida. :)

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  2. I still have trouble with the loud thing, Fredrik used to try and point it out but now he is either harder of hearing after living with me or gave up....wait maybe he is loud now too that would make me really happy!

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  3. Great post, Casey. As a Brit I can relate to a lot of these, esp finding Americans loud #sorry Sounds like your German adventure really did change you and leave a lasting impression on your soul :)

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  4. Ohhhh this makes me miss Europe so much! I learned similar lessons while in the UK, however I didn't dare drive haha

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  5. I know what you mean! I've gotten good at cooking some of my hometown favorites too.

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    1. You have to! Especially when those cravings hit and there's no good place to go to satisfy them!

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  6. This is great, super interesting how travel and living abroad can really truly broaden your mind and self awareness :)

    x
    Jess
    www.mossandmink.com

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  7. Living in France has made me a much better person, partly for things I've learnt to do like the French do and partly in appreciating that I don't do things like the French do. I'm also way better at drinking wine and cheese which I'm pretty sure counts.

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    1. HA! Love this. I'm MUCH better at drinking wine and eating cheese, too. I've got the bum to prove it. :)

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  8. THese are so so great! I feel the same way about so many after living abroad! And that last one…wow, we as a culture need to tone it down, hahah!

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  9. I love the fact you can have a nice meal and don't feel like you are being push out of the restaurant. Since move to Germany. I have become a bier and coffee drinker.

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  10. Love these and couldn't agree with you more after having lived in Germany myself. I have fallen off on my Sunday rest day; need to get back on that one!

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    1. Oh, I'm sure I'll fall of the wagon with some of these someday, too. But, it's nice to see them popping up in my life for now! :)

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  11. So true!! Living in a different Country and culture definitely made me a better person too... it's just a simple step of getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new :) This was a great read... thank you!

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    1. Yep, getting out of your comfort zone is half the experience! So much fun taking in new ways of life...it'll be hard to ever go back to my old self!

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  12. ...Looks like you've been Europeanized--not that that's a bad thing!!...

    Best,
    Betty J. Ogburn

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    1. Nope, not a bad thing at all! :)

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  13. There were things I noticed when I went to Germany years ago. Like how Americans are obvious just because of how we dress. Our casual is at a totally different low than the rest of the world. Living in Japan just taught me more. I yell at California drivers every morning and every evening. They ALL drive in the left lane. If I want to pass, I have to pass them on the right. It's ridiculous. It's basic driving etiquette and they can't seem to figure it out.

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  14. You're on a roll with these posts, girl!! ;)

    I love the one about the parks. We were outside all the time growing up, and I never understood why more people don't have picnics, explore, hike, or just take a stroll through the park. (I was a weird one, though, and wanted to be a National Park Ranger growing up!) I never lived abroad, but I love how different places and experiences can make us better people!

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  15. I'm totally going to need you to post that Queso Blanco perfection... PLEASE!

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    1. I think I should, too!! Maybe next week? :)

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  16. American loudness LOL! What a great experience it was for you to live there!!! WIll you miss the sausages and beer?

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  17. I totally agree about really enjoying coffee now. I still miss my vanilla coffee creamer though!

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    1. Europe had the best coffee! So smooth and not bitter. I miss it so!

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  18. Twelve years later and i still get annoyed by loud Americans in public :-)

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  19. Great post! I've traveled to Europe a few times and its amazing how in only a short time you become aware of so many different things. I think the #3 (Parks) was my biggest thing... all over Europe people really embrace the outdoors on a daily basis and its something I really miss! We once stumbled upon International Pillow Fight Day in London all because we decided to stop and enjoy the outdoors!

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    1. They really do embrace their outdoor spaces much more than Americans tend to. There would be people outside running, even in the snow and rain! Talk about commitment!

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  20. I found this post so interesting...great job!

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    1. Thanks so much, Amy! Funny what living in Europe can do to you! :)

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  21. This is a really interesting post. I love travelling but I don't know if I could every live in another country. I'd never considered the idea that moving to another country could make you a better person. Thank you for this post!
    Eilidh x

    http://herprettystateofmind.blogspot.co.uk/

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  22. Your list is pretty much my list of things that annoy me living in America - inefficient drivers, eating fast and American loudness! You have to share your queso blanco recipe though...if Ever have to leave th States and head back to Europe that is the one thing I'll miss the most!! I'm addicted to it's cheesy goodness! Hope you're loving life back in the States!

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    1. Yep...we're too loud for our own good. I'm constantly annoyed out in public these days, but I'm sure somehow I'll be warped back into my old loud self the more I'm around loud Americans. And yes, I'll try my hardest to put together a cheese dip post! It really is the best thing ever. :)

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  23. Hi Casey! I moved to Berlin 5 months ago and find many of these points relatable to me already. I definitely didn't start drinking coffee until I moved here and eat muesli every morning for breakfast...

    Also, I totally know what you mean about the loud American thing... When I meet friends abroad, they tell me they're surprised I don't speak in obnoxious levels! I guess that's a compliment :)

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    1. Coffee and muesli...the breakfast of champions!

      Totally take that as a compliment! It's hard NOT to be a loud American, apparently. ;)

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  24. I love the driver thing the most! I love how you can reflect on being changed living abroad!

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  25. Sooo, you're gonna have to share those Mexican recipes!! :) Loved this post, I'm curious to see how living here will change me over the next 3 years..excited about the journey!

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    1. Oh I definitely will! I'm sure you'll change in lots of ways, too. It's not hard to fall in the love with much of the European way of life!

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  26. I loved this. I also love that I know you and your hubby are in Venice in that picture! St. Mark's square, right?

    I don't know about Americans being louder than most Europeans. I know that certain Spanish people are louder than any other group I've ever met! How about the Italians? :)

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  27. YES share mexican food recipes! Also -- get a Nespresso machine! It's fast and delicious and it makes me feel so very European.

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    1. Will do! And I've looked into the Nespresso machines...they look nice! Now if only I can find my money tree, I'd be sold! :)

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  28. What I would do for a cappuccino at my favorite local Italian cafe! Let me know if you find a great machine, I've been on the hunt as well!

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  29. Amen to #5 & #12! I have not lived abroad, but have had the great fortune to visit friends at Ramstein the last two years. I love the real, slow food concept, the unbeatable recycling, the love of fresh air/outdoors...

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  30. I can so relate to this, all the way on the other side of the world! I love the eating-out culture here, the food is so good and there are SO MANY options. And I've become a much more... aggressive... driver since we got here lol

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  31. Oh my goodness what an EXCELLENT post. You have totally outlines the same things that I feel but was always a little too embarrassed to admit.

    The long lunches.... my sister (still in Canada) can't stand it when we lunch together. She recently said " we're always done eating at 3 pm", we waste every day!" Do we? Do we really. What are we always in such a rush for? In Europe nothing opens before three anyway!!! Why can't we just enjoy where we are instead of always concentrating on where we could be?

    And yes, yes , yes to coffee, driving and parking and Sundays. The life in Italy is exactly as you've describe, and in a strange way I really miss my European rhythm when I'm in North America visiting. As for American loudness, part of their charm is their exuberance, but I just don't think many Europeans have learned to appreciate that yet.

    Great post!

    Angie from reasons to dress, fashion, real mom street style & life as a North American mom in Italy.

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    1. Thank you, Angela!! I agree, why can't we just enjoy where we are instead of the next fun thing? So true!! And I love how you said that Europe just hasn't learned to appreciate our American loudness as exuberance. What a creative perspective!!

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  32. I really enjoy reading posts like this; such an eye opener and interesting. I'm just as annoyed with the loud Americans, always have been, and I've never lived anywhere except the States. Hahaha! It's not just foreigners who find it annoying. : D

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  33. Eeeeek American loudness is so rough - I always forget about it until I have visitors and they can be heard across the restaurant. Too funny - I love this list. I never even drank coffee until Europe and now I'm a coffee snob.

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    1. I think the only time I've ever heard Germans get anywhere close to the kind of loud Americans can be is during the World Cup or at Oktoberfest. Crazy, right? Glad to know I'm not the only one Europe converted to being a coffee lover!! :)

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  34. I loved reading this! One of my favorite parts about living abroad is how it's changed me for the better and taught me things that I would have never known before... like how to enjoy parks and monitor my loudness (you really hit the nail on the head with those!) Although, I definitely have more to learn, considering I didn't know Aurora or San Marino were real countries hahaha

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  35. All of these...yes! The last one has been huge for me lately. Since I've moved back, I'm so aware of how loudly people speak. I get so embarrassed sometimes! So funny how living abroad makes you aware of different things.

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  36. Did you end up sharing the recipes? I'd love to try them especially the enchiladas verdes!

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