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A Little More Personal…

I love Germany. I’ll admit, it’s not a country I would have selected if given a choice. Perhaps I would have landed in Turkey, Argentina, Russia, Sweden… Maybe Morocco. But my husband is German, this is where he was born and raised, leaving at 27 to marry me and embark on life in America at my side. And now it’s my turn to return the favor, allowing him time to enjoy his familiar life here once again while I journey down the path of unknowns and what-ifs, exploring German life. We are only splitting our time between Germany and America right now, we have not relocated here permanently or anything. Who knows what the future holds and where we will ultimately settle? But for now we live in two countries and I’m going to tell you a little about my life here as it stands today.

Life in Europe in general is so very different from my ‘world’ in America. Of course, Europe is comprised of many different countries with each having its own set of laws, culture, language, much different from America and our many states but Germany is in Europe and it is, as a whole, much different than American life on this continent. European life is known for being a bit more relaxed, more environmentally aware, and less focused on consumerism than what I am accustomed to in the states. There is also this very deep sense of history and a real pride for country and culture. I grew up in America and in many ways, it’s the only life I’ve known. Until now. Living in two countries only for the past 3 weeks has been the most amazing experience for me. If you ever have the chance to even spend a few months in a foreign land, no matter where that may be, by all means JUMP at the chance. For the many friends reading these words who have done this, or who currently reside in a new land you must agree that the ‘trials’ involved in adjusting to a new culture are worth it. The experience is one I will never forget.

And this is just the beginning.

I’m in Germany until the 3rd week of December. Then we’ll return again next year, perhaps in the late Spring. I’ve already commented to my husband that I feel a shift inside since being so far away from my life in America. There is much to absorb and experience. The first thing is that one must arrive to a new land with plenty of humility and a sense of humor. If these aren’t natural characteristics, one will be forced to either learn them to survive or if not learned, the process of living in a foreign land will be quite difficult. I say this primarily because my German language skills are on the same level as a first grader. I do not speak German fluently so I have many frustrating moments, but thankfully I have a sense of humor so most of the screw-ups I make aren’t that hard for me to crawl out of with my pride still intact. Though I must say some days are harder than others. Recently, in front of a long line at a very packed bakery, I asked a lady for a squirrel (Eichh?rnchen) instead of the horn-shaped cookie (Mandelhoernchen) my husband sent me there to grab for him. She looked at me quite perplexed. Suddenly I felt my face turn bright red because I realized what I said (extra loud as I was trying to speak above the noise) and those around me paused from their conversations and cell phone chats to look at me as if to say, “Did she REALLY say that?”. I then apologized to the cashier and stated that what I really wanted was an Mandelhoernchen. The crowd snickered and I did everything I could to not crawl beneath the counter. I paid for my cookie and made a bee line for the exit, careful to not make eye contact with anyone. Suddenly I remembered that a sense of humor is my closest friend in times like these, so the moment I stepped outside I burst into laughter. On my walk home I kept recalling the look on the cashier’s face and on the faces of those around me in line. I bet they went home that very day to tell the story of the girl asking for a squirrel at the bakery.

Each day, I wake up to a new culture, a fresh slate in many ways. It’s interesting to explore life here and to compare the differences between America and Germany. I’m proud to say that I’ve become much more ‘green’ since arriving. I now recycle everything; plastic, glass, bio, paper, bottles, all of it. We have glass containers on the corner near our house, a bio bin downstairs, a special container for plastic, another for paper, and I return all of our bottles to the local grocery store each week. In America, sadly, I throw everything into one big trash bag and off it goes to the town dump. How sad. When I return to the states, I vow to keep this up. It’s important to think more green and yes it takes more time, but I’m very pleased to say I am in the habit of recycling now and it’s a good thing. Did you know that in Germany if you do not recycle you can be fined? Oh yes, it’s the common law here to separate all of your trash, using only the proper bags and bins. If you don’t and are caught, you can get into trouble and have to pay a fine. You also cannot throw your glass bottles into the local bin (ours is near the playground on the corner) after 7pm. Yes really. It’s not acceptable, as glass hitting glass makes too much noise. You need to show respect for your neighbors. In fact, this ‘neighborly love’ translates into other things as well. Let me explain.

For instance, in most apartment houses here you must be quiet between 1-3 p.m. each day. This means you cannot play your stereo loud, do laundry, vacuum, nothing. You can make necessary noise (hair dryer, shower, etc.) but not unnecessary noise (vacuum, etc.). You should have seen my face when I learned this a few weeks ago. I started to vacuum around 2pm and my husband walked in, his face filled with horror. I immediately thought something horrible happened, maybe the end of the world? An earthquake? A death? Nope. I was vacuuming between the hours of 1-3 pm! OH MY GOD. The horror! Again, I burst out laughing, thinking he was pulling a very funny joke on me. But he was dead serious. Now I watch the clock each day to ensure I am quiet in the afternoon. I work from home so this is often a challenge for me, but I’m growing to appreciate this respect thing because it is nice to have a specific time period each day in which you are guaranteed some peace and quiet from the neighbors.

Another interesting cultural difference is that on Sunday everything is closed with the exception of a few kiosks and select drug stores. A few (very few) bakeries are open in the early morning, and the cafe in the nearby forest is open (we have cappuccino there after our Sunday morning walk each week), but none of the shops are open, grocery stores are closed, even IKEA is closed. Instead of shopping, Germans play with their children, go to the many parks and gardens here, visit museums, emerge themselves in cultural and sporting activities. At first it was weird for me to adjust to this. No shopping on Sunday? Are these people insane?

Then I thought about it. It’s starting to grow on me.

I thought about how back in America my husband and I do our “Target Run” on Sunday. Then I thought about how sad it is that we never slow down at home and always have our minds on running errands. Why? Because we CAN. When you cannot shop, you are forced to do something with your time, something more meaningful. On Sundays here in Germany, we go hiking, visit family, and usually go for dinner at our favorite Greek restaurant or we stay in and cook a special Sunday dinner. I know the U.S. economy depends heavily on commerce, but if Americans vowed to take Sunday off and stay out of stores and just spend time with their families and friends outdoors or pursuing something more cultural I think it would greatly increase joy and the quality of life. In just 3.5 weeks here, I’m already more joyous. I feel less stressed, have more patience, and feel very connected again with nature and more in touch with my own feelings and goals. I feel more creative than ever.

So what is my week like here? I work of course, but we have a farmers’ market on Wednesdays around the corner, on Thursdays there is another one we go to about 5 blocks away, and on Friday we always have our ‘date night’ and we go for ice cream or something small but meaningful. The ice cream is heaven here and it makes the American stuff taste like chemicals mixed with raw sugar. With the exception of Ben & Jerry’s, I cannot find any other brand of American ice cream here. Which tells me something about Ben & Jerry’s — obviously they have a superior quality product to be allowed in this country because Germans are quite particular about their dairy products.

On Saturdays we visit the weekly flea market in the city center (last week was amazing, what a turn out of vendors!), and on Sundays we spend the day doing something relaxing but fun outdoors. Last Sunday we went to the local lake in the city and watched the sailboats, grabbed a cone of ice cream, and enjoyed walking around the lake under a blue, cloudless sky. On Monday, a typical week begins so we both work, but in addition to that I run errands as I’m trying to pull my apartment here together and on Tuesday we do pretty much the same as on Monday, except there is this truck that arrives in front of our house that sounds like a rooster calling. Yes, a rooster. What is inside? Fresh meat, milk, eggs, cheese, honey, veggies, and fruit from the countryside. So I usually run downstairs around 1pm to shop from the truck. I always know when it’s coming because it has a horn that sounds exactly like the world’s largest rooster cry. It’s a riot. Today I bought the freshest blackberries and honey from the rooster truck. :) They were delicious and fresh picked, so of course I will enjoy them in my cereal tomorrow.

So! These are a mere handful of some of the things that I’ve observed thus far in Germany. They may seem insignificant to you but they matter enough to me to share them today on my blog. I know this isn’t a design post, but I have to be myself and this means that occasionally I’ll share some things from my personal life that have special meaning to me. If I’ve bored you to tears, I’m sorry.

Now on with design, art, and all the things we come to decor8 for in the first place! Thanks for giving me a moment to share though, it felt nice to talk to you today. Feel free to share any of your expat experiences by commenting below. I’d love to hear about where you’ve lived and your experience overall there.

— Holly

Posted by decor8 in travel on September 02, 2008

Your comments...

  1. Kim commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:22pm

    I absolutely loved today’s post! Makes me want to leave the country and find myself in a completely new place. I’ve only experienced foreign lands while in the military and it’s just not the same.

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  2. Manvi commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:22pm

    Holly,
    Thanks for sharing this! I can imagine how exciting and thrilling it must be to move to a new country. I have a similar story. My husband is American and I am from India. I moved to the US to be with him and it has been an experience. I can’t wait to read more about your time and adjustment there.

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  3. Manvi commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:23pm

    Holly,
    Thanks for sharing this! I can imagine how exciting and thrilling it must be to move to a new country. I have a similar story. My husband is American and I am from India. I moved to the US to be with him and it has been an experience. I can?t wait to read more about your time and adjustment there.

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  4. Nicole Robertson commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:29pm

    I liked your story about asking for the squirrel. I have a similar story also involving squirrels. While I was a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica during college I told a story, in Spanish, about squirrels in my neighborhood being born without tails but instead of saying ?colas? (tails), I said ?coulos? (butts). Those poor squirrels, born without butts?.

    Every moment I lived there was an adventure. It was living changing and I loved it.

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  5. Tracy commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:40pm

    An absolutely lovely account of your new European life. It is quite interesting to me as I prepare for my own move to Europe (Copenhagen) next year. I hope you continue to post more about your new experiences.

    Tracys last blog post: Modern Dog Crates That Look More Like Sophisticated Furniture Than A Puppy Prison.

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  6. Nora commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:44pm

    This is a fantastic post. Both my husband and I were lucky enough to spend some time studying abroad during our years in college – he spent four months in Rome, I spent five weeks in Florence. There is very little I wouldn’t give up to go back to Europe for an extended stay, given I can take my husband, dog, laptop, and camera with me and come home to visit my family regularly ;) I love your description of German life. I’ve only been able to spend a short time in Germany, but it seems very in line with the way I try (and would like) to live my life.

    Noras last blog post: We?re Approved!

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  7. Kt commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 4:45pm

    Really enjoyed reading your entry today! Here in the UK we’re not quite as laid back as our European counterparts and you’re comments have made me want to explore my neighboring countries a little more. You’ve shared an insight to the country that you can only get from a long stay somewhere, the little things that tourists miss in a couple of weeks. Thanks!

    Kts last blog post: Phone camera…

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  8. Quetxy commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:06pm

    It IS very exciting to experience new stuff in different places. I lived in the U.S. before, as a student… and that was an experience! Now I’m away from my hometown living in a wonderful city in Mexico: Guadalajara. It is mostly wonderful because it is the cradle to all mexican culture, and it has many different influences from foreigners that enrich the experience of the city.
    Cheers to living in different places!

    P.S. Oliver W. Holmes said: “A man’s mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original shape” …soooo true!

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  9. Trina McNeilly commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:08pm

    Holly – what a great post. I have been following your other blog as well. I always love hearing about peoples adventures in other countries because, you are right, you can learn so much. I haven’t had the opportunity to live in another country but I have been blessed enough to have visited Europe several times & having dear friends in England & staying with them has definitely engrossed me more in the culture and I love it. Good luck with your adventure and keep the stories coming. Cheers!
    Trina
    ps- I think the squirrel story is great – that is too cute!

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  10. IkeaGoddess commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:13pm

    Holly, I loved reading your post. I actually had to read some parts out loud to husband, ’cause he wanted to know why I was laughing so hard. Sorry, one more person who knows the “Eichh?rnchen” story :-)) You hit the nail on the head showing the differences in every day life, and I know having grown up in the states and now living in Germany for over 20 years. I hope to read more about your life in Germany.

    IkeaGoddesss last blog post: A chair for a toddler

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  11. erinn commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:20pm

    thanks for this. it makes my heart flutter a little. I wonder if I strive really hard if I could create a life for myself like that while still living in the US. We were in Germany last fall and both my husband and I agreed we could live there. We never felt that way about any other place we traveled. I can’t wait to hear more. all the best to you. e

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  12. tracie commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:24pm

    i loved this post, especially because i love germany. europe really … my {ex}husband was born in germany and we visited often … it holds a special place in my heart. and what i love about the european culture is the complete sense of living in the moment. i.e., small refrigerators and the inability to buy in bulk! :)

    feel free to share this personal stuff anytime!

    tracies last blog post: winner, winner!

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  13. Jessicca commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:24pm

    Holly–

    Life in Germany sounds amazing. I just traveled to New York, and even that was a bit of a culture shock from my normal Utah life. I can only imagine how hard it would be with a new language. Sounds like you’re taking it well and really enjoying yourself! Thank you for sharing.

    Jessiccas last blog post: Shabby Chic

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  14. Ana commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:24pm

    I loooved your post today! Thank you for sharing your experience with us and WELCOME to Europe!

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  15. Ruby commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:39pm

    I needed this post. My daughter just began a study abroad program in Dresden and although she speaks fairly fluent German (due to studying, as we are not German), she had a hard time adjusting her first week, but now LOVES it. I think a couple of really cute German boys helped turn that around for her ;). She also returns the 3rd week of December. She is excited about a trip to Berlin this weekend. I am just so grateful to get another American’s perspective on living over there. We visited Bavaria a few years ago, but I know there is a distinct difference between East and West Germany. Would love to know what area you are in. Anyway – thanks for the post!

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  16. Andy Mathis commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:39pm

    Squirrel- HAHAHA!
    I can only imagine the look on the lady’s face. “crazy american”

    I would have to resort to using flash cards or something.

    I think it’s great that your “job” is so flexible, that it allows ya’ll to live in 2 places. Yay for the internet.

    Most people are chained to a desk, a building, a physical location, (or a vet hospital) for employment, that it makes such adventures almost impossible. Just quick trips here and there.

    Andy Mathiss last blog post: Cat Notepads arrived today from the Printer

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  17. Leta commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:40pm

    It sounds heavenly! Thanks for sharing and I hope to read more about your new life in Germany.

    Letas last blog post: 30 little somethings

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  18. decor8 commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:50pm

    Ruby,

    I’m in Hannover located in northern Germany one hour south of Hamburg and about 1.5 hours west of Berlin. Here is the Hannover website in case you’d like to check it out:

    http://hannover.de/

    Also visit:

    http://www.hannover.de/herrenhausen/index.html

    — Holly

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  19. cindy k commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 5:59pm

    it sounds amazing – i particularly love the quiet hours and how people care considerate of their neighbors. also, shops closing on sunday seems ideal and gives almost everyone a real break. it used to be like that here in the us and i’m going to try to do it at least once ;). i don’t think i’ll ever live in germany, so it will be nice to live vicariously through you, especially since my father’s family was from that country. please keep sharing your experiences with us!

    cindy ks last blog post: fun : this and that

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  20. Desiree Fawn commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 6:05pm

    One of the things that surprised me the MOST when I was visiting the States was that there was no recycling. I live in Ontario and I’m so used to it being a part of the day — I was shocked in the US when I was LAUGHED at when I asked “where’s your recycling?” Oi!

    Desiree Fawns last blog post: new book love.

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  21. Rita Vindedzis commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 6:19pm

    Boring??? Hardly, this was a fantastic post Holly. Thank you for sharing what it’s like to be living in a different country and culture. I’ve often dreamed of doing just this sort of thing and I find it fascinating to hear how others live, different customs, lifestyle etc. It sounds as if you’re quite comfortable and happy.

    Cheers,
    Rita

    Rita Vindedziss last blog post: Last Week for Square Foot Show.

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  22. Nicole commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 6:39pm

    Thanks so much for giving us a little insight into your life over in Germany! I have often dreamed of moving to Europe for a few months or even a year… just reading this got me excited at the prospect again!

    Nicoles last blog post: Clinging to summer…

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  23. Roo commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 6:44pm

    That was so cool to read, thank you for sharing about your life in a new country. Love your blog.

    Roos last blog post: today

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  24. Nicole S. commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 6:52pm

    I find it quirky that drying your hair is considered necessary during the quiet hours, but not vacuuming. Dry hair trumps clean floors, I guess. :)

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  25. Stephanie commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 6:54pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! It was really truly inspiring to me. I kind of teared up reading it because I want to live in Europe so badly and I don’t know how I’m going to get over there. It sounds amazing and I love the ‘closed on Sundays’ thing- it’s annoying when you’re a tourist (because you only have a set amount of days!) but I can see how it would be relaxing as an inhabitant.

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  26. Michele Murphy commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 7:05pm

    Hi Holly,

    Not a boring post at all! I’ve been following your blog for about 6 months now and thoroughly enjoy the details you write about.
    Travel is definitely an enriching experience [my first love- design, of course, a close second…] Thank you for all the wonderful photos and information you share with us and best of luck in Germany.

    PS – I’m Canadian [montrealer] and I too was surprised [shocked] to learn that recycling hasn’t yet been implemented in the US. Perhaps some of your American readers can act to change this soon!!!

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  27. Tiffany commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 7:12pm

    Wonderful post today! German life sounds very nice. My husband is from the UK. I’m from Seattle. Like you, he came to the US for me. When I go back to England I see the more laid back lifestyle once you get outside London and its suburbs. The work day is shorter there, they even get much more vacation time than US companies offer. We see more shops changing to be open on Sundays too – even in the countryside. When you’re on vacation it’s nice, but I can see its benefits as I was raised that Sundays were for family. Paris even feels laid back, despite loud scooter noises zooming by you. They buy fresh baguettes, fruit & veg for use that evening. Nothing more. As for recycling, I am very proud to be from the Seattle area. When I travel the rest of the US I am shocked how different it is from city to city and state to state. In St. Louis, actually a suburb of St. Louis, you must PAY to recycle!!! What?!!! I remember many trips to Utah holding onto empty plastic bottles wondering where in the state I could recycle them! Seattle will be the first in the Nation to impose a fee for the use of disposable shopping bags from convenience, drug & grocery stores. (Guess I actually have to buy poop bags for my doggy on our walks rather than relying on a spare Target bag : ). They also plan to ban all use of styrofoam containers from all grocery stores & restaurants. I guess what I’m saying is that some parts of the US are more “green” and make it easier to be “green” than others and it’s been that way for a while. But I think we all could learn so much from Europe and beyond in some of their ways of living.

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  28. Jeanny commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 7:15pm

    Holly, great post. Love to read about your view on my home country. I experienced one embarassing moment during my internship in Boston, too. Asked if I wanted a steak in a restaurant I answered: “No, I’m a vegetable” instead of vegetarian :) My head indeed turned tomatoe-red as everybody around started laughing.

    Enjoy Hannover!
    J

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  29. Jamie Watson commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 7:58pm

    Oh this was so wonderful to read! I think this is one of the things I love hearing most – the little differences between our cultures. I laughed outloud when you orderd a squirrel at the bakery! And I loved the story of the vacuuming at 2pm and how you thought your husband was kidding. And I agree about Sundays here, wouldn’t that be wonderful? Thank you again for sharing this. Glad you feel more creative and joyful. That makes me happy and I don’t even know you!

    Jamie Watsons last blog post: Your Message Here

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  30. So Lovely commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:07pm

    I loved this post. I am originally from New Zealand, spent 9 years in England, and then moved to Los Angeles when I was 22 which is where I live now. Even though these are all English speaking countries, the customs are very different. Its still very quiet in NZ and England on Sundays – thats why there’s time for a leisurely Sunday dinner!

    So Lovelys last blog post: Re-Launch of Interview magazine

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  31. Patti commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:27pm

    Thanks for sharing this lovely glimpse into your new two-places-at-once life! I think the German lifestyle sounds lovely and I wish we could live more like the Europeans do over here. Maybe this Sunday we’ll try it out. :)

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  32. Melissa de la Fuente commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:30pm

    I love that you shared all of this Holly! It sounds so lovely and it is so fun to vicariously visit with you! What a wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing it with us! If I had been in that bakery when you ordered “squirrel”-I would have given you a big smile and commiserated! It is adorable!
    xo
    Melissa

    Melissa de la Fuentes last blog post: hope II

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  33. i.d. commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:31pm

    I’m so happy that you’re settling in so well! You’re so lucky to be able to live in another country – I agree that it’s a wonderful exciting experience! Can’t wait to hear more about Germany.

    i.d.s last blog post: Top 10 MoMA Store Picks

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  34. Dariela commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:32pm

    Holly, what a great post!! Thanks for sharing your personal experiences!
    I am from Venezuela and I’ve been living in the US since 2001. I left my country in 1998 though, and lived 3 years in Mexico before living here. So I have experienced similar things. I am with you when you tell people that if they have the opportunity go ahead and do it, cause it makes you appreciate so many things in your life and grow and discover yourself and even your own country. It’s like stepping out of your life and seeing yourself and your country like you where another person!
    In latin culture as you may know, we are very close to our family and I do try to encourage having lots of time to share together and not only shopping, but it’s so easy to shop in the states!! I definetly try to have a nice mix! Keep sharing your experiences in Germany, it’s so exciting to read!!!

    Darielas last blog post: 1st Disneyland visit!/Primera visita a Disneylandia!

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  35. Jean commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:35pm

    Wonderfully inspiring post – and although it’s not a design post, ultimately the design in Europe must be influenced by their beliefs on some level, right? I was surprised last year when I visited France as to their need to know where their food came from – region, etc. – whether cheese or chicken. At the time I thought “who cares” but now I realize its importance and I am more aware of where my food comes from. Do we really need the out-of-season fruit that comes from thousands of miles away? It will be interesting to see how long Americans can stay “green” – let’s hope it’s not just a fad.

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  36. Marisa and Creative Thursday commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:41pm

    I’m so happy you shared this on your blog ~ one of the many reasons I always love visiting here. :)
    And you know how much Germany has a special place in my heart ~ so it is especially wonderful to get a glimpse into how it’s going for you. Hope to be joining you in your dual country living soon…!!!!

    Marisa and Creative Thursdays last blog post: in my nest

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  37. nina commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:43pm

    Interesting and fun to read… I’m always amazed by how many long and thoughtful posts you can write on just one day! I live in the Netherlands, but I have never heard of the habit that you should be quiet between 1 and 3 pm. Maybe it’s a german thing? I do know about siesta in the southern european countries, but this is mostly between 2 and 5, because of the hot weather in the south.
    And you shouldn’t be ashamed at all for th ‘einhoernchen’ thing at all! It’s already great that you try to speak the language, a lot of people with english as their mother language her in the Netherlands don’t even try (which is also because we dutchmen are so proud of speaking many languages that we don’t even give foreigners the chance to try and start speaking dutch to us)…

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  38. melissa commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 8:52pm

    Thank you for this post!! You are such an inspiration! I hope I have the opportunity to have a house in another country, it seems like such an amazing experience.

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  39. Megan commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:13pm

    Ive only been following your blog for about 2 months now and i just love it, you’re a constant sorce of inspiration to me so i was excited to hear you were moving to Hannover as my best friend left Australia for Hannover 5 years ago, met her now husband and has two children so she wont be returning, we dont talk so much anymore so reading your post really gave me an appreciation for what she experienced and strangly it makes me feel closer to her. Thanks ..

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  40. Terie commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:17pm

    I am so jealous. I would sell everything to run off to Europe to live, even for a short period of time. Maybe someday. I like the personal stuff.

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  41. Elena Jatia commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:18pm

    Holly,

    Your post made me miss “home.” Home, being Germany. My parents worked for the US military since I was six-yrs-old, which is when we moved to Germany. I lived there until I graduated high school. When I went off to college, it was my first time living in America. Although I called myself an American while living in Germany, I now realized I am a German.

    I miss Germany so much, especially during Christmastime. Cherish every moment that you’re there, because it really is a blessed place… Have fun!

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  42. Bonnie commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:22pm

    Hi Holly,

    Thanks for this post and all your others on HausMaus. My hsuband is now your biggest fan. Not because he reads your blog (I don’t think he knows what one is!) but because he hopes we can move to Germany one day and your blogs are getting me more and more enthusiastic about the idea!

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  43. Ann Marie commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:38pm

    Thanks Holly! That was actually very interesting to read. It sounds like you are having a wonderful time. You are very lucky to have this experience. I look forward to reading more about your adventures.

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  44. Janis commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:42pm

    I SO enjoyed your post today. How delightful and enlightening! Not only have you have refreshed my ‘green’ resolve, you’ve given us an insight as to the benefits of taking a step back and properly honoring Sunday as a day of rest. I don’t do any type of commerce on a Sunday (unless it’s an absolute emergency) and I’d be relieved if the temptation were removed. How awesome to hear your your comments describing the relaxed atmosphere that results.

    In fact, everything that you describe is so intriguing! I’d love to be there.

    Janiss last blog post: Two more orders down . . .

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  45. tanya commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:43pm

    Your description of Sundays as a relaxing, family day reminds me of what Sundays in the US used to be like. I’m near 60, so I remember a slightly slower time. It was wonderful to be able to relax like that, even in New York. I’m glad to see that the custom is still followed in Germany.

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  46. collette commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:49pm

    Hi Holly!

    I love that you included this personal post and it was so FAR from boring.
    What we experience in life and how we connect and interact with people is such an intricate part of who we are I couldn’t imagine you not sharing this personal experience. It will influence the way you move in the design world. It will shed new light and I’m guessing bring new vision to things you may not have otherwise noticed whilst be caught up in the “hurried” life. I think this has everything to do with design as it has to do with you, and you are after all the wheels behind Decor8.

    You took me down memory lane a little. I lived in Germany for a couple of years (and now I’m an expat living in Australia) in the early nineties and it is still one of the best memories in life I carry with me. I still love the Eurpoean way of life. I will forever hold a special love for Germany in my heart. It is such a beautiful country and I miss the people and all I was fortunate to experience whilst living there.

    It’s funny the things we really notice that are different to American way of life like recycling and Sunday shop hours. I have to say that my hometown in California does recycle (we have three bins to separate everything) and I have hope that it’s becoming more of a normality elsewhere in the States but it’s still, in many ways, just not ingrained into our daily life the way it could be. It took sometime to get used to shop hours being limited (same here in Australia) but you easily adapt as you have already experienced and I think you might even find that the habits you are forced to form now you will carry back with you when you return to the US and you will have a special appreciation for simpler ways.

    You are in a great situation having your husband and his family there. The language will come if you keep that sense of humour you have and keep laughing. Keep making mistakes. It is the best way to learn because you usually don’t make the same one twice.

    Anyway, I’ve gone on here. I could easily carry on with this subject. So much to say. I hope you continue to share the experience . . . maybe a bi-weekly personal on how German life is influencing your design style? :D

    Loved what you shared.
    Take care.
    xo
    collette

    collettes last blog post: It Pays To Be Nice

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  47. andrea commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:53pm

    Thank you for sharing all of that. I’m so impressed how you’ve been dealing with all of these cultural differences. It sounds like a challenge but so rewarding to learn to live differently. Congratulations!

    andreas last blog post: from the past

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  48. Jamie commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 10:10pm

    I so enjoyed today’s post. Like you I’m an American, but one who is learning to live abroad in another culture (this year India, the two years before that Brazil.) Every day is an adventure and having a sense of humor is critical for my sanity. Every day I see or experience something new or exciting, I have a new perspective on the world and my role in it. I find I’m a better more accepting person after experiencing more than one culture in the world. Good luck as you continue your adventure.

    Jamies last blog post: Dealing

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  49. Diana commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 10:18pm

    I so enjoyed your post. It is so upifting to hear of another american coming to the realisation that life all over the world does not revolve around American consumerism and that peope in the other parts of the world are actually much better off because of it. I myself am originally from Arizona (born and raised) but in ’99 I moved to Australia where I eventually met my hubbie and now call home. Like Germany the shops are closed on Sundays and except for Thursday night “late night trading” all the shops close at 5Pm except the grocery stores which close at 6. And even though your average American would never believe it every time it is taken to vote to extend trading hours it has always been thrown out by an overwhelming majority. People here love their Sundays and realise that working does not equate to living and especially not living well.
    I am labouring the point, but I just love hearing of Americans who have found that a world exist outside of America and that in many ways they lead a much more balanced life then Americans could ever hope for. So from one Ex-Pat to another…. welcome to the club.

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  50. Laura commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 10:22pm

    Thank you so much for this post, Holly! I have never lived in another country, but I did recently move from California to Rhode Island to be closer to my husband’s family — and while I know it’s a small change compared with a move across oceans and languages, I identify with your comments. It is so important to use changes like this (or even travels) to open up your eyes to new perspectives.

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  51. ChrysRT commented
    September 2nd, 2008 at 11:00pm

    What a great post! It’s nice to have you back!

    Holly, one day you should right a book and I am not joking! You have such a clear mind when you express your experiences and feelings!
    For someone who had lived in 5 different countries located on 3 different continents, I can related to all of it!

    My most embarrassing moment was when I tried to explain to a friend how difficult a task was! In French the H is silent, aware of it, I was very careful to use it in English. I had just learned a new word: hassle that I used in the conversation. Unfortunately I put the H at the wrong place and said instead asshole!!! I saw a change of expression in my friend’s eyes and realized once home what I had said! My partner and I had a good laugh but up to this day I still feel self-conscious when using it!

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  52. jody commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 12:08am

    I really enjoyed your post. The “no noise” thing reminded me of something I had forgotten. I used to live in Japan and at night when you came to an intersection drivers would turn off their headlights so the lights wouldn’t shine in the other drivers eyes. :o)

    (BTW, I live just outside of DC and there is definitely recycling here! Everyone I know and all my neighbors recycle. I’m bummed to hear that it’s different in other areas of the country.)

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  53. Ez commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 12:09am

    Holly this was such a beautiful and meaningful post. I almost felt as though I was walking the neighborhood with you and getting to experience a little bit of your new life with you. Thank you for sharing so candidly with us! What a remarkable and transformational experience! I’m so glad you have this opportunity!

    Hugs from California all the way to you!
    xxo
    Ez

    Ezs last blog post: Two for Tuesday

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  54. Steph commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 12:28am

    So glad that you are enjoying your expat experience Holly, and looking on the bright side as sometimes being misunderstood can get one down a little.

    After being brought up in Australia, I lived in Japan for 2 months when I was 17 between high school and Uni. Then in my 20’s moved to Belgium for a year where I went from being very confident to sometimes being the quiet person in the corner as people found it a bit of an effort to converse with me. That was a learning experience. Then London for a year. Then back to Australia. Then I moved to the US for 5 years in my late 20’s/early 30’s; where I met my husband and constantly felt special for having an accent and a slightly different view of life. We’re in Australia now, and I have to say that I now don’t feel like I fit in here 100% either!

    But really we’re both so lucky that we could now live in San Francisco, New York, Sydney or Brisbane and be happy, and appreciate all those places for their own special way of life.

    Steph

    PS: Here in Australia we have 2 garbage services – household garbage and recycling. Two trucks (or sometimes one) pick up two separate bins on garbage day. It makes it so easy to recycle, and it’s really a crime that you don’t have this service in the US. Now that would be a community service worth lobbying your local government for!

    Stephs last blog post: All The Girls Are Wearing Lululemon

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  55. Rosa commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 12:58am

    What an exciting time in your life. If I had the chance, I would love to live in Europe for several years being the expat. I love Germany and Switzerland and the Netherlands and the UK, all of it! Lucky you. I have to agree with you, laughter is the key. My teenage son and I would just giggle at each other when we would say something not quite right. I think the Europeans enjoy our sense of happiness. Again, lucky you. Enjoy!

    Rosas last blog post: Tuesday Dinner By Myself

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  56. Tara commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 1:11am

    Love the post! Some many little things you never think about until you live-live somewhere new and different! Quiet hours in the afternoon? Who’ve thunk? I have to add that the recycling situation this is not necessarily “American”. I live in the US and I can recycle all of that stuff every week at the curb along with my non-recyclable trash. And without too much trouble the very few things that are recyclable, but not collected at the curb, can be taken to a convenient recycling facility. I actually found it less convenient to recycle my things the last time I was in Munich (4 years ago) than it is at home. My city-issued recycling container is actually larger in volume than my garbage container.

    My ex husband’s cousin moved to England to be with her husband and has a great story of trying to purchase a “fanny pack” there. “Fanny” is not a cutesy term for “buttocks” in British English; it’s slang for female genitalia! I bet she wishes it was slang for “squirrel”!

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  57. leslie commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 1:31am

    oh, holly. this post was perfect. i live in japan. with my japanese fella. and can relate so much. so much. to what you are going through. i love it over here. and smile so many times a day. at ‘normal’ things. learning about another culture. and being immersed in it. is a wonderful. wonderful thing. we are working on following our dreams. that were just like your dreams. to live in two countries. here. and canada. someday. someday.

    leslies last blog post: weekend goodness 66.

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  58. Sandra commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 1:45am

    Hallo Holly,
    willkommen in Deutschland! :)
    Your bakery and vacuuming experience gave me a good laugh this morning.
    Being a German, but moving from Munich to Cologne a few years ago, I had to learn that here I had to order “Broetchen” instead of “Semmeln” at the bakery, to get what I wanted. So who knows if your “Mandelhoernchen” aren?t called “Einhoernchen” in some other parts of this country? ;)
    The vacuum rule seems a bit olf fashioned to me. Maybe if you are living in a house with elder people…, but our generation also vacuums the floors between 1 and 3 p.m. :) I would say go for it ;)
    x Sandra

    Sandras last blog post: Olav Grimmigsson (Olav Grimsson)

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  59. Nolwenn commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 1:58am

    Holly,
    I just discovered your blog about 10 minutes ago and I had to read the part starting with “I love Germany”.
    I love Germany too! My husband is German and I moved here (from France) about 5 years ago. And the world being small, I also live in Hannover :)
    Thanks for sharing your experience, it was a great and very interesting read and I am glad you enjoy it here! I think Hannover has something special, in contrary to other larger German cities. It’s more on a “human scale” without being too small, you can find everything, people are friendly and helpful, and at least it’s the region where people speak German with the best accent! Much much easier to understand and learn at the beginning :)
    I can’t wait to read more about your new life in Hannover :)

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  60. eva commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 2:15am

    I loved your post! You described so well that cultural schock that you have comin to Germany. I had the same!
    First – the language. You just have to keep talking even if you know that you make mistakes. justt keep talking. And ask Germans to correct you! Because they consider it very rude, but I think it`s necessary to learn it right.
    Second . Sundays. we were absolutely paralyzed in our first Sundays here. Nothing to do, nothing TO DO!!! But now (after 5 years), we really love it!
    Only thing what we have n`t got used to, is that everything (speaking of buying furniture here) takes sooo long time! Waiting for kitchen table for 7 weeks??? Insane!

    evas last blog post: do you like orange? (yes, the color)

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  61. Kischa commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 2:35am

    I really like this post. It’s great to read your perspective on things that seem normal for me! Its a good remider to see things in a diffrent light sometimes :)

    Kischas last blog post: (Untitled)

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  62. lindsey clare commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 2:53am

    this is a great post, not boring at all! i loved reading about your thoughts on living in Germany.

    i would love to live overseas one day. i can’t imagine there’s anything else like it in terms of opening up your world, and discovering more about yourself, your relationships and how you want your life to be. good on you for giving it a go, despite the odd mistake!

    p.s. i find it shocking, yes shocking that recycling is not the norm in the States. it’s the norm here in Australia though lazy people get away with not doing it – it’s not illegal or anything.
    i think it’s all about making it easy for the citizens. all we have to do is put it into a big ‘yellow bin’ once a week. it becomes second nature, doesn’t it?

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  63. Anke commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 3:31am

    Hi Holly,
    thank you for this very enlightning post! I laughted very much about your Eichh?rnchen story… just thinking about the faces everyone made makes me roll on the floor…;-)
    It?s great to hear all the things you found here in Germany…on tends to forget when living here all the time…;-)
    Its such a shame we did not meet when you were in Berlin last year ( I have moved btw!)
    Greetings from the South ( of Germany)
    Anke

    Ankes last blog post: tagged and Circus!

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  64. Anita commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 3:33am

    I love this post! Last autumn we moved from T?bingen (South Germany) to Hannover and the first time I heard the rooster I was really shocked – gladly our neighbours explained me what’s going on :)
    We, my husband and I, love our life in Hannover, though South Germany is also great, but we can’t imagine leaving Hannover and this countryside any more. We live near Moltkeplatz, and I’m off to the Wochenmarkt now… have you been to the Bauernmarkt on Moltkeplatz on saturdays – it’s so far my favourite Markt in town.
    Have a nice day, Holly, and I would love to read more about your impressions as a American in Germany!

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  65. Alison commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 3:38am

    I certainly enjoyed this post, as I’ve recently moved to the Netherlands from the US three months ago. It’s actually been a fairly easy move for me; nothing has seemed overwhelmingly different, perhaps because I was aware of some of the differences already, even if I hadn’t had to live with them before. The lack of Sunday shopping just means remembering to buy extra on Saturdays, although there’s often a bit of panic trying to make sure we have everything we might need for us and our three pets! Of course, this Sunday is the “first Sunday” (of the month), which means the shops in the center will be open. Fridays are the farmer’s market and Saturdays are the fabric market (my favorite!) and the flower market.

    I do have to say that recycling was easier and more comprehensive where I lived in the States (New York and North Carolina). It was collected at our house every week (or every other week) and they took everything. Here, the recycling of plastic seems a bit lacking, which always makes me feel guilty!

    I love it here, and I’m so glad we chose this place to move, despite the fact that we had no family or friends here. We’ve made friends already with the people we bought our house from, and they’ve introduced us to others. It’s a been a wonderful experience so far and just keeps getting better. It’s often the little quirks that make it the most enjoyable!

    Alisons last blog post: Little Shop of Joys

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  66. alis commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 4:05am

    Holly, thanks for sharing, in fact I hope you continue to share your experiences. I’m from Istanbul, spent a whole year in the US when I was 10. I didn’t speak a word of English, and I went to school there! Funny enough, I didn’t have a hard time at all, everyone was so welcoming. At 5th grade there, they were teaching things I had known since 3rd grade(because of the fierce examination system we have over here). Piece of cake; I learned english and even made it to honor roll. I loved every bit of the experience and was very bitter to come back to Turkey! I kind of still am. At least I came back from the verge of becoming overweight, because I could not BELIEVE the portion sizes, package sizes, and the variety of snacks(which are my soft spot). We ate from the same pack of pop corn for the whole year, and the coke size in McDonalds seemed like it was meant for a horse.
    I also did a 3 week stay in Milan. I can confidently say that they have the world’s best ice cream there. Even though Milan is very different from Istanbul and I can’t really speak Italian, I immediately felt home there. Very easy, simple place to live.
    If I could choose where I live I would say London, or the vicinity towns of London. The historical city scape, the old cottages, stylish and friendly people, delicious food, recycling, humane work conditions, the incredible amount of green, and the richness of the culture make it an easy choice. And the English accent is music to my ears. Or Sweden, but first I have to go and see.

    ps: There is no recycling in Turkey either. Our recycling system is the gypsies who collect plastic, paper and tins from the large garbage bins on the street. They can be messy but I’m grateful. I can’t believe there is no recycling in the US though, one would think such a system would already be running in a country that’s supposed to be ahead of everything.

    aliss last blog post: Technical Difficulties

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  67. Coco commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 4:06am

    Its so nice to read your total new experience in Germany! I’ve had the oppertunity to stay in the United States for only 8 months and I still can feel the rush it gave me to visit another cultur so intense! I can’t explain good enough just how it feels to get into another cultur. You must have the same feeling but even more and better than me since you are staying in Germany for a longer period than I was.

    How good from Germany that they fine people who aren’t recycling. I think it would be a good thing to introduce in the Netherlands! We do seperate paper and glass but are lack with are green-garbage although EVERYONE has a green-garbage-bin!

    In the States I met a girl from Iceland and I visit her last vacation for only two weeks. But it did felt kind of the same staying 8 months in the States. Just getting envolved with normal live in another country is so exciting. I cried when we were leaving Iceland and my friend… I think you will have a hard time leaving Germany as well, but it must feel good you have your home their and will come back!

    I wish I could see you this friday in Amsterdam, its actually rather close to my home. But i’m a bit afraid to meet total strangers ;-) besides that i’ve a little baby (5 months) that needs breastfeeding. Have fun!

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  68. decor8 commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 4:46am

    Anita Hello! I am happy that you’ve commented, it’s nice to meet another living in Hannover. I’m leaving for Moltkeplatz in 10 minutes to get some flowers and blackberries. I already ate the container I purchased yesterday from the rooster truck. :) I live 5 minutes from Moltkeplatz, we should meet sometime for coffee or something. I’m in the List too. :)

    Small world!!!

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  69. Claudi commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 5:05am

    Hi Holly,

    very nice post – I really enjoyed reading it. I follow your blog for quite some time now because it is a constant source of inspiration.

    I especially liked the post because I am German and live here since I was born except for 7 months which I spent in New York City for an internship. And as you said one should JUMP at such a chance. I always thought that Americans and their habits cannot really be that different from Germans – but in fact they are ;-). I realized that there are a lot of things I would like to have here in Germany (the possibility to shop on sunday is one of them :-)) but other (German) things I missed while being in the U.S.!
    What is also interesting is that you can find big differences between different parts in Germany. Originally I come from Frankfurt/Main, then moved to the south of Germany, lived in Hamburg for 1 year and came back to the south again.
    I like getting to know different people and habits – it opens your mind a lot. So be thankful for the great experiences you can make. :-)

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  70. Jessica commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 6:18am

    What a cool post- I love hearing about different ways of living and was *not* bored at all!
    I’ve got to be serious with you, though, and say that Germany sounds like a nightmare. I like being able to grocery shop at 3am, and buy a ton of food when it is on sale, then use it up in different dishes throughout the next few weeks. I would hate to have to grocery shop every day, and I just know that I’d need something for a project, or want to rent a movie, or something on Sunday when the shops are all closed. And being forced to be quiet every afternoon? I think I’d get very self-righteous… Of course you want to be considerate of your neighbors if you know their schedule, but that seems ridiculous.
    It’s awesome that you are learning more about how other cultures work, and sharing it with us. But goodness… As much as America can sometimes make me mad, I guess I sure do love it here!

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  71. Marion commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 7:22am

    Thanks for posing this. Makes me think that maybe living in Germany is not a bad is I always think. But after having lived all of my live here I am ready to experience living somewhere else, too. And it’s hard to see these small day-to-day things as some something positive. I always think life is way more relaxed and laid back everywhere else than here…e.g. I always find it very stressful and thereful avoid it to go shopping or to run errands on Saturdays because everyone does since stores are closed on Sundays or in the late evenings. It’s not too long ago that all the sops closed at 6 pm on weekdays and at 2 pm on Saturdays.

    On the ‘Mittagsruhe’ thing I can only agree with Sandra although you notionally can get into trouble and also even be fined if you do make extreme noise between 1 and 3 pm and I think also between 10 pm and 6 am or something like that. But nowadys vacuuming the floors, doing the laundry or listening to music during noon is quite common…

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  72. Steffi commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 7:38am

    Hi Holly, I really enjoyed reading your post! The squirrel-story is so nice. I?m German and live in M?nchen, and I love all the stories, things and shops you talk about here and in your HausMaus-Blog. It?s so interesting to see all those German things from another perspective and getting to know how it is in the US. Oh and of course especially lovely is to get to know all those nice shops you introduce in HausMaus! Car M?bel is amazing!!!

    Steffis last blog post: Nachtkleid

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  73. nathalie commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 7:59am

    Hi Holly,
    thanks for sharing your experience… it is great to be out of your comfort zone..as an Italian living in Ireland, even if on the same continent i had my self some funny stories to tell…
    In italy we have the ” no noise ” policy too and i have to tell you, i terribly miss it, although i love my Irish people they show no respect when it comes to noise. They vaccum, even drill and put loud music on even at midnight ! there are no laws for this as the Irish aren’t very used to be living in apartment… What i like about Ireland though is that shops are open on Sunday, everything is, so when i go back to Italy for holiday it is very frustrating not to be able to browse around … well some pros and cons here and there but the all living abroad is fanstastic !
    Nat

    nathalies last blog post: Pretty Old

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  74. Soo commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 8:12am

    Hi Holly, what a lovely post! I’ve just moved to Sweden (from India) to study, and some of the things you mention – like the recycling garbage & no shopping on Sundays, and appreciating nature – struck me here as well. And you are so right, when you say that we would need some humility and some sense of humour to adjust, because that’s exactly what I think at the end of (most) trying days! and I always remind myself, that this is what I wanted to do!

    Soos last blog post: grocery shopping

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  75. Soo commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 8:13am

    and btw, i love this cool (plug in?) that displays my last blog post – in fact it is about grocery shopping in sweden!

    Soos last blog post: grocery shopping

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  76. Suzie commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 8:16am

    Dear Holly, welcome to Germany!

    I love your observations! It is always interesting to hear an ‘outsider’, a ‘newcomer’.

    I am now living in Stuttgart, after 8 years in Asia (remember me from Beijing, China? the magazine?)
    and although I am a Stuttgarter, I have to adjust to live back home. It is almost like a reverse culture shock.

    Vacuum cleaning at 2 pm: I do it, if necessary! Although quickly and with a little guilt. However I would not appreciate someone playing piano at that time. Actually, you can make noise again or call someone after 2.30 pm (of course family and friends can be called at all time). No need to wait until 3.00 pm (so you win 30 minutes!)

    Here in the South we have another phenomenon: ‘Die Kehrwoche’ … maybe I should have a post about that. This is something the Northern Germans relocating to the South can’t handle (me neither! luckily this is subcontracted in our house)

    In case you plan a trip to Stuttgart, be my guest, just send me an email!

    Have a good time
    Suzie (aka Susanne)

    Suzies last blog post: Back from Italy

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  77. Maggie commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 8:57am

    That sounds wonderful! Thank you for that post :)

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  78. Liz commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:12am

    Holly – I loved your description of appreciation and love of your life in Germany, it is very important to love your life. I was a bit put off by what I inferred from from post that there is not pride of history and culture in America. Perhaps you feel that way because quite often it is put out there in various types of media that America is bad, and we are “young” country so how could we have anything to be proud of. And any demonstrations of pride are pooh poo’ed as “oh those classless Americans” when if the same thing was done by any European it would be embraced. Maybe because of that the pride people feel is not overtly shown because we don’t want to be shot down.

    That being said I absolutely adored my semester abroad in Brussels, working in London and my trips to Scotland, France, Italy and Germany. It is a very different lifestyle, and it works for some personalities and not for others. While I very much enjoy spending time there visiting museums and seeing the history I could not live there full time but I am looking forward to my next visit and am hoping to start my investigation of Eastern Europe.

    Not so long ago I remember when stores in America were closed (I am only 32), perhaps because I did grow up in a small town they remained shuttered on Sundays longer than they did in larger markets. Sundays were for family that was the way we were brought up. Now that I live outside of Boston, Sundays are still for family, it doesn’t matter if I can go to the store unless it is an emergency we just don’t, I have brought that with me from my childhood into adulthood and my own family. This piece resonated with me as it has seemed that you have found a way to unplug so to speak and relax and enjoy, and I have read several blog postings, and magazine blurbs about this concept. I laugh because I never realized that this was such a hard concept to grasp. I chalk it up to my parents teaching me just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

    Oh and in my neighborhood it is de rigueur to recycle everything and has been for a while.

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  79. chantal commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:17am

    I also loved this post. Imagine, I’m canadian and my sister moved to the States a few years back for a couple of years and she found the transition a bit hard. Missing her friends, family, way of life. Even though US and Canada seem similar, it’s not really. I just love hearing how you are just embracing life over there! Enjoy and relax. It’s true, here it’s all about running around, shopping on weekends, working 7/7. I’ve made a commitment with my new job to NOT stay late anymore and putting my family and daughter on the backburner. Easier said than done but I’ll make sure I get out of work on time!

    Enjoy the life over Holly, this is one blog I always love to peruse..

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  80. stevie commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:19am

    Thank you so much for sharing this Holly. It made me take a step back and look at my weekly routine. I wish Americans would recycle, take is slower and take time to enjoy nature.

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  81. Magda commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:43am

    Loved this post! Looks like I’m not alone!

    I live in Melbourne (Australia) and here the shopping hours are the same as your US home.

    It’s just wrong — it may be convenient at times, but at what cost? People, families, should have at least one day a week that is sacred (and I’m not talking in the religious sense). It’s not only the fact that you CAN shop, but also the fact that lots of people have to work for the shops to open, which ruins the opportunity of special time out. And of course the government loves it — always economy above everything else. We will all pay ultimately.

    Oh, and to lighten up again: I wanna rooster truck too!!! :-D

    Magdas last blog post: Illustration Friday: Routine

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  82. susy commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:43am

    I feel the same– I think sometimes, we fall back on shopping because it’s the easiest thing… just buy new stuff to preoccupy yourself.

    I personally hope that as consumers, we Americans begin to take a much closer look at what we are buying, why we are buying it, and what happens to it when we throw it away.

    I read an interesting quote the other day…’So often we substitute beauty for truth’. For me, that says it all when it comes to our pace here in the States.

    susys last blog post: VERY LITTLE {DOING MORE WITH LESS}

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  83. decor8 commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:52am

    Jessica – You grocery shop at 3am? Oh my god! That is something!! Where do you go? I would never want to shop that late though, I prefer sleeping. :)

    The grocery stores here at open until 10 pm Monday-Saturday and we have tons of farmers’ markets throughout the week, so there is plenty of time to shop and eat. I usually go the grocery store once a week and then hit the farmers’ market on Thursday (or Wednesday) and the rooster truck on Tuesdays.

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  84. Sheila D commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:53am

    Hi Holly,
    Great post! I couldn’t agree more about “JUMP at the chance” to live elsewhere besides your home town. I’m from Indonesia, I was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. I lived in Virginia US for 1 year when I was 4, then at age 19 lived in Switzerland 2.5 years (Gen?ve & Vevey), then US (Los Angeles 5 years & New York 5 years), then back to Jakarta, Indonesia. From my last experience living abroad, which is in New York (and going home for vacation every year). I feel like I lived in 2 different stage, playing 2 different roles. As “Sheila home” and “Sheila abroad”. I constantly have to switch habits (and language) completely when I go home or go back to New York. The things I can do in New York might not be appropriate in Indonesia and vice versa. In fact a lot of things are! I can probably make a book just talking about the differences, the dos and don’ts. The things I constantly worry in New York like paying rents, doing laundry, checking the temperature before going out…. then the next day when I fly to Jakarta, all those things are gone completely from my head. I have 2-3 maids who do the laundry, make your bed, cooks, cleans the house and does everything for you. Plus a driver. And the temperature pretty much is always the same all year long, which is hot! I never ever check on the temperature here. It’s basically the same everyday. No surprises. Hot or very hot, rain or no rain.
    The culture differences is so huge that I physically and mentally feel that I am a different person here and there. I feel different and I act differently.
    All in all, I always enjoy living elsewhere, and couldn’t get enough of that experience and feeling. The excitement of discovering, learning, absorbing, and adjusting. Germany sounds great. Though my dream is still having to experience living in Japan (:

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  85. Shanon commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:58am

    Oh Holly, this was such a wonderful post to read. =)
    I am going to come back and read it more carefully later today. The way you share your experiences makes me feel like we are all experiencing these things as well. I’m very excited that you plan to recycle when you return. =) I know it’s not my place to judge those that don’t, but it makes my heart hurt a little when I see boxes and glass and cans in their trash.
    Thank you so much for your openness. You are full of courage and have a wonderful way of looking at the world. I wish you continued safety and joy during your stay in Germany!

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  86. Ellen Crimi-Trent commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:13am

    Hi Holly,

    Greetings from New England!! The weather here in MA has been fabulous and that is saying allot, but I do envy your time in Germany. I spent one summer in Europe and long to do that again. I am counting the years down when my husband and I can move to Italy when the boys go off to college. I loved living in Italy the month I was there and would go in a minute. I think all of Europe recycles much better than here and the way they take pride in their surroundings is much better too, you do not see trash thrown on the road like you do here. I love the small stores you buy your groceries in much as the same as I did when I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, you just cannot get that in the suburbs of MA!!

    I know you will have such an amazing time even if you miss the states but the experience is well worth it I say, enjoy!!

    Ellen Crimi-Trents last blog post: Back at work and lots of new goodies!

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  87. decor8 commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:36am

    Liz — Thank you for commenting. I love life in America, I think if anything New England (where I live) is filled with people who have much pride for their part of the country. And the sense of history is all around, especially in Boston. I grew up in the south and am absolutely in love with the deep south. I think it’s filled with warmth, its own unique ‘way’ of thinking and doing things, and many things I find absolutely charming.

    I have family all over the U.S. as I am American and think that it’s a lovely country in so many ways. In fact, being in Germany makes me think of all of the things that I appreciate so much about American life that I often take for granted. But I also love my 2nd life in Germany, I find it a refreshing chance and enjoy life here equally. I can’t say I like America more or less, but then again I don’t attach myself to a set place since I feel like my home is inside of me and with my husband.

    I appreciate your comment but I ask that you please try to not read between the lines in what I’ve said here. My observations are merely my own, certainly not gospel or etched into stone as “The Way It Is”. I was not implying at all that America lacks culture or history, it’s just a different way or life and perspective from European life!

    Best,
    Holly

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  88. MJ commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:56am

    I’ve been living in Europe for the past 15 months; my husband is German and we lived near Nuremberg for almost a year. We’ve also lived in the Provence, France and near Barcelona, Spain.

    Things I love about Europe:
    1) I do love the idea of Sunday being a real weekend. In the US it’s just the same as the weekdays, and it took a while to get used to having to shop for Saturdays and Sundays during the week, but it grew on me. Sunday is a day to connect with religion, with friends, with family, whatever.
    2) A real effort at recycling. We separated everything, even Tetra paks (plastic). We used cloth bags all the time. Europe is really ahead here.
    3) Nature. Try to find large fields, meadows, forests in the US that are not enclosed by some kind of fencing with signs about prosecuting trespassers. There have been many times where we’ve stopped to have a picnic in the middle of the countryside and not gotten kicked off property. Perhaps it’s because people know their own boundaries? I’m sure it’s a cultural thing.
    4) The languages. Oh, don’t worry about the people laughing at you! It’s a slip up, it happens. I’m fairly good with French, lousy at Spanish, know enough about German to hold a conversation. German is a difficult language to learn. I love mandelhornchen myself!

    What I hate:
    1) The German banking system. In Nuremberg, at least, bank branches are not connected to the main bank. If you got money through an ATM at another bank branch, you’re charged a fee. As well, they frowned on credit cards because credit card/banking companies imposed a high fee on transactions. So most of the time my husband paid with his bank card (really just an ATM card).
    2) We lived in the German countryside and I got stared at. A lot. Sometimes fairly obviously, and sometimes I knew when people turned back to look at me. I know it’s because I’m Asian, but for crying out loud, it’s the 21st century, don’t these people know we exist??? (It really pissed me off.)

    Anyway, just to let you know that I find your experiences not very different from mine!

    MJs last blog post: Keeper, this.

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  89. Jane Compeau commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 10:59am

    Hi Holly, I lived in Argentina when I was a kid, started school without knowing more than a dozen words of Spanish. I’m so glad I learned when I was a kid, by 3 months I could have a conversation. Learning another language is a chance to learn another way of thinking too, because the way the words are put together covers an underlying philosophy. You might not notice that until your German gets better, but keep an eye out for it.

    When DH and I married I was used to not shopping on Sunday, and he was used to treating Sunday like every other day. Now he (knowing the difference) treasures a restful Sunday as well.

    Jane Compeaus last blog post: Antique Doll

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  90. Stacey commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:23am

    Hi Holly,

    I moved from New Zealand to Bremen around 3 years ago (German man too). It’s so great to hear your stories, they remind me of the beginning for me, when I couldn’t the bakery ladies to understand the difference between my two and three. But what’s best is that it reminds me to keep that sense of wonder I had at the start. The old buildings, the cute boiled egg covers, the street art, the love of going for walks on Sunday, getting to know ‘my’ farmer and his farmer dad, even learning the rules (and when best to break them!). Enjoy!
    And if you’re ever going to be in Bremen, send me a line! I’d be happy to show you the sights (designwise and otherwise).

    Stacey

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  91. Kristen commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:37am

    Hi,

    I’m a longtime lurker to decor8 and now your blog about life in Germany. . . but I love this post. I could of written it ..but you said it all much better! I’m an American living in Greece (my husband is Greek) for 3 years now. We recently went home to Oregon for a visit and as much as I love, love, love Portland — life in Europe has grown on me in a big way. I don’t know if Athens is the answer (it’s so darn huge…) but somewhere else in Europe might be. And I will always have a great place like Portland to go back to and visit or maybe someday, live.

    I don’t deny moments where I just want to scream but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

    Now, if I could only find fresh blackberries here! :)

    Kristens last blog post: day sixty-two

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  92. Valari commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:59am

    I love this post, but I have to comment because many have gotten the impression that there is not recycling in the US. This could not be more far from the truth. Though I yearn for the day that our programs are as advanced as in Germany, anyone who is not recycling in the US–especially in a city like Boston–is just not trying!

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  93. doreen commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 12:19pm

    I love this post. And I love the European way of life. When I was in France this spring, I was in a little town and trying to do some shopping around noontime. But every shop had a sign on the door saying that they would not reopen until 2 pm. The only thing open were the cafes, because the French take their noontime meal very seriously. Can you imagine in the US lingering over a 2 hour lunch, that may also include a glass of wine or good Belgium beer? When I worked in an office, I was lucky if I was able to get away for a measly 30 minutes. Is it no wonder that life expectancy in France is much higher than the US? We rank 24th in the world, France is 4th.

    I am old enough to remember, too, when the US had a Blue Law, as it was called, when nothing was open on Sundays. My dad used to have to fill up the car on Saturdays, because you couldn’t even buy gas. But I don’t remember it being a big deal, because we just planned for it. I now try to do the same too, even though I know I can shop on Sunday, I use that day for getting together with family. The crazy consumerism we have in the US is such an addiction, but when you start to slow down like you have, you realize that the small pleasures of life are so much more rewarding.

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  94. Rekoj commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 12:41pm

    Holly I absolutely adored this post and especially appreciated the observations about neighborly respect. My – what a concept! I honestly believe that if more Americans had to go live overseas for a time of even just a month it could change some of the self centered foundations of our culture.
    I lived in Izmir, Turkey for almost 3 years as a child and I know it has formatted the person I am today. Being fully immersed in a culture other than your own no matter the exact experience you have can do nothing but enrich your life.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

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  95. maja @ tikoli commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 1:40pm

    holly- thanks for giving us a glimpse into your life in germany. i think that living abroad is such a humbling and enriching experience. learning another language gave me a tremendous respect for all of the immigrants in this country and the challenges they face each day. and good for you that you are willing to make mistakes and don’t insist on speaking english!! please continue to share your insights, i just love this stuff! also, did you see that kristina at three layer cake posted something on berlin pre-and post wall? i’ve been to berlin twice once about 8 years after the wall came down and then again last year. amazing to see how the east, especially berlin is evolving. ~maja

    maja @ tikolis last blog post: Hvid

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  96. Stephanie commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 2:58pm

    It is weird that you don’t recycle in NH, is there no recycling program there? I live in MA and we must recycle in my town, they won’t take your trash otherwise. We are also charged for town trash bags which encourages recycling as much as possible. I really need to set up a compost bin myself. I use the excuse that I rent, truly I have plenty of room to compost. I love love love the rules about respecting your neighbors! If people in the states were more considerate of each other we would all get along much better. I am from the east coast and when I travel ( even only as far as CO) I am always struck by how “nice” people are in contrast to home. Please keep writing posts like this. I found it very interesting!

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  97. Emily commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 3:23pm

    Hey, thank you for this post, it has been most interesting and useful to read. I’m currently in the dilemma of choosing where to spend a year in Europe studying for my degree course and I’m now slightly swayed more towards Germany! I’ve always loved the thought of learning German or Dutch and experiencing a different culture to my own. Please keep up the insights!

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  98. donna commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 3:33pm

    I’m from Canada and we used to have no-shopping-Sundays but somewhere along the line they changed that and some stores even open on holidays though they risk incurring fines unless they are in what is considered a tourist area.

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  99. Meg commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 4:12pm

    NY requires recycling and you’re fined if you don’t comply.

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  100. Miss Behave commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 4:55pm

    I read your blog daily but I never posted a comment, but after I read your post about Germany I just had to:)

    First of all let me say “thank you for decor8″ it’s a constant inspiration for me!

    Second, I laughed so hard reading your views on German life. I’m German (well half, the other half is Italian) and I live in the south of Germany so I never thought about all the things you wrote about just because it’s “normal life” for me like the be-quite-houserule and no shopping at sundays (which is annoying) the “green thing” (which I always thought every other country has to be greener than us).

    Anyway, welcome to Germany and I’m glad you like it here, because we definitly need some more creative and inspirational people like you!

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  101. Petra :-) commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 4:59pm

    Hi Holly :-) I love your post :-) remember…the tiny things…no, no the little ones :-) :-)

    Petra :-)s last blog post: style of the week :-)

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  102. Leigh commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 6:00pm

    I loved this post. Traveling, or more specifically long-term travel, in a foreign land have always been an invaluable eye-opening experience for me. I’m always pushed outside of my comfort zone and discover new things about myself. Often, qualities I never though I possessed. I now have a serious case of wanderlust. :)

    Leighs last blog post: M.Kendall: Typewriters

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  103. Kate O commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 6:13pm

    This is such a great post. I was really curious to see what your experience would be like living abroad. I think you really nailed it about the sense of humor and humility.

    I spent some time in Japan and there are simliarities between my experience and yours. The recycling and the respect for those around you were two big ones with me as well. I also had a embarrassing experience in a grocery store :)

    I really miss that awareness and respect for those around you.

    I think that living in another country gives you a greater understanding of who you are as an American. As Americans our sense of entitlement to freedom is so deeply part of our culture. The freedom to shop, eat, vacuum anytime we want. When forced to deal with these cultural restrictions you have to figure out why it’s so odd for you to adjust and hopefully a better understanding of who you are.

    Thanks again for the post and can’t wait to read more about your time there.

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  104. Jennifer Murray-Szarvas commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:41pm

    Hi Holly,

    I loved this post, thank you so much for sharing.

    Regards,
    Jen

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  105. Rachel commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:47pm

    What a lovely, lovely entry. Once of my Decor8 favorites. I saved it for the first break I’ve had all day. SOO worth it!

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  106. josephine commented
    September 3rd, 2008 at 11:54pm

    i really enjoy these long personal posts. my funny, little story of being abroad is the summer i spent visiting my family in japan when i was 19. i know i should learn japanese, but there’s never been any need, since my mom’s family would speak to me in either cantonese, english, or spanish (my uncle’s wife is from argentina). you can probably tell where this story is headed. one day while i was in kobe, i took myself into a cute, cramped restaurant that could barely fit 5 two-seater tables. i was already nervous about having to order in english, but i saw they put their specials in english on a blackboard (yay!). so of course with my luck, the only free table is far enough so that i can’t make out the menu. when the waitress asked me in japanese what i wanted to order, i was forced to meekly ask for the specials english. the whole restaurant became silent, and i knew everyone was listening to my every word. did i mention the whole place was packed? i don’t think my face could have been any more red! that night i told my uncle this story and he assured me that everyone in japan jumps at the chance to hear conversational english from a native speaker. whatever. even though stories like this are embarrassing at the time, i hope to collect more of them since it means i’m traveling and immersing myself in the culture. hopefully, they won’t be that embarrassing, though. :)

    josephines last blog post: transitioning to fall

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  107. Sophie commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 1:23am

    Dear Holly,

    thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about Germany. I discovered Hausmaus a couple of months ago and love it. I am German and relocated to Chicago, I have lived in Hannover (List!) and Hamburg. It is so interesting to hear the “other side” in your blog.
    Just in August we went to Germany and I had to take the kids to the wonderful Hannover Zoo and we then went to Hamburg to Die Waescherei for Mom.

    I love the US though, the sunday shopping, the endless options.

    Funny enough – I hated Sundays as a kid and the Mittagsruhe, too. My 5 year-old son who grew up in the US told me recently on a trip to Germany: “Mama, Sonntag is boring-day in Deutschland!”
    He is certainly not into shopping over here on Sundays. But I think that our weekends in the US are so much more relaxed without the stress of Saturday shopping. And we are still having the option of throwing a last-minute BBQ Party on Sunday afternoon with all the Wholefoods goodies….

    I think everyone is enjoying what is different than their usual life – and that is perfect that way. I still feel like on vacation here after several years. Learning about Opposums, coyotes, chipmunks…

    Enjoy your Hoernchen! I will have a white-chocolate rasberry muffin instead.

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  108. Chitra commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 3:27am

    Hello Holly, Such a lovely post. Well i am an Indian but currently reside at Holland. I have lived in different continents in the last 7-8 yrs. It was West Africa first and then the US and now in Europe. I absolutely love traveling and moving to different places has helped me understand the local culture a lot better. Am loving living here as well though i miss the US for its own charm.

    Have loads of fun and will keep visiting.
    Cheers

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  109. michele m. commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 10:09am

    What a great descriptive post about your time in Germany. I feel like I am right there living the little moments that make a new cultural experience so exciting. My last trip to Europe was in my early 20’s, maybe at an age when it is too much to process, the architecture, the history, the diversity. How I would love to travel there again. Thank you for opening up the door. Please write more about your experiences!

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  110. Jill commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 1:27pm

    Your post wasn’t boring at all as I can relate exactly! We lived in Zurich for 4 years and everything you mentioned about Germany applies in Switzerland also. It is so true that everyone should live in another country for a time and if they can live somewhere in Europe, well, lucky them!

    Enjoy!

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  111. Mags commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 2:03pm

    Wonderful post! I had the opportunity to live oversees for 4 years in the late 90’s and it changed my life in so many ways. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of your daily life and related to the cultural challenges which you are facing. I gained an appreciation for a simpler way of life and saw the magnitude of the role that consumerism plays here. Although there are random county’s with Blue Laws (no shopping on Sunday, Bergen County, NJ), you can’t escape it. Upon our return to the US, I remember standing in the pharmacy section of Target, completely bewildered by the options for cold medicine. I just needed something to ease the symptoms of a common cold and was bombarded with so many choices that I was on information overload. It’ll be interesting to see how your perspective of daily life changes when you return in December. I imagine that I will find it as enjoyable as this post!

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  112. Liz commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 3:42pm

    Wonderful post Holly, and a lovely peak at your new life of bi-continental living. I was lucky enough to have grown up in Europe/South America (parents american, but father educated in europe, and speaks 5 languages – a rarity in an american in the 70s) as a result of my father’s jobs. It definitely opened me up to a life other than an American one, and I have felt so very lucky for that early education, with the exception of my first year living in America, a 7th grader, with a funny accent and no understanding of how American schools worked, never mind the culture etc.

    As a 20-something I moved to Greece and lived for 3 years, moved to Paris for 2 years, a brief 6-month stay in Tuscany and then a year in London and a few more years in Scotland, altogether a wonderful life – educational and emotionally fulfilling experience. I still wonder why I returned (other than the greater and greater difficulties for Americans to retain working papers in Europe as the EU tightened up) as that European life-style that you describe so very well is much more familiar and comfortable to me, than this American one. I miss the languages, I miss the ritual of family and walks and talking, and I miss the ebb and flow of life that is so very different here in America. Ask my sister about the first time in a grocery store in America, after I had lived in Europe for almost 9 years) I think I ran out and hid in her car, it was just too much.

    I echo your sentiments totally, if anyone ever gets a chance to live abroad, anywhere, take that chance and run with it. Take the opportunity to live outside your home country for at least a year and truly experience what some part of the rest of the world is like, and shed the stereotypes and the assumptions, learn and use a language other than your own and just have an awesome time!

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  113. gesikah commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 6:14pm

    What a beautiful post. It’s makes me want to pack up and move this instant. Hopefully, one day I will get the opportunity to at least travel extensively, if not live, in a foreign country.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  114. Susan commented
    September 4th, 2008 at 6:25pm

    Loved the glimpse into your new and VERY interesting life. Do share more as you go along this journey…we are all interested!

    Susans last blog post: Daring Bakers August Challenge: Pierre Herm??s Chocolate ?clairs

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  115. kalli commented
    September 5th, 2008 at 12:57am

    It’s great that you’re taking time to savor little pleasures. I think if people everywhere would turn off the TV and take a walk to really observe their surroundings and smell the smells and move their bodies a bit, there would be less problems in the world. I like the quiet time you mentioned, the respect for community.

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  116. Sandra commented
    September 5th, 2008 at 4:03pm

    This post makes me want to move back to Germany… I moved to the US about 9 years ago and this points out exactly the little things I am missing about that place :) – and I could never put it into words like this .
    Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about people laughing at you at the bakery.. I am almost positive they all thought how cute that was – nobody was laughing AT you. I remember being just like that when I was over there.. and it was never intended to be mean or anything, people there love Americans and especially when they speak German with an accent ( or a little flaw ).
    Anyways.. this post was ANYTHING but boring really…I hope there will be more like this soon…and you might convince me to go back there.

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  117. smiles4angels commented
    September 6th, 2008 at 4:13am

    its been a refreshing post. makes me kind of wish I am in Germany. It’s nice to read about practices/culture that still place emphasis on people and respect to others… I can imagine a life having a routine rest every week. A time for people to savor what they’ve been working through their whole life. A time to disengage oneself from the stresses of work. Thank you for sharing this post.

    smiles4angelss last blog post: My perception pesonality

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  118. Kitty commented
    September 6th, 2008 at 5:52am

    I know I am commenting a little late but I had to anyway.

    I am also an American married to a German who is now living in Germany (but we are living here fulltime). We have been here 4 years now. We live almost as far North as you can go and still be in Germany. My husband grew up here and then spent many years (15+) in the states, where we met and married, so it was almost a “foreign country” for him also. I knew no German when we moved here (except the numbers 1-10) and it has taken a long time to get to where I am now. (I get compliments ;-)

    I just had to laugh at your Squirrel cookie story since I did almost exactly the same thing after I had been here only a short time. I ordered a piece of “Kirchentorte” (instead of “Kirschtorte”). You can believe that the bakery lady had a hard time figuring out what a piece of “church cake” was. My husband was luckily with me at the time and helped me out of my hole, laughing the whole time.

    I also remember spending forever in the grocery stores when I was new here. I didn’t know many words but I read all the food packages anyway (i.e. “What’s the difference between Schmand, Creme Fraiche, and Quark? And how are they different from this “Sour Cream”?”). I always hoped that no one would talk to me in the check-out line because I wouldn’t know what they were saying. It felt so good when I knew enough German to understand that the lady asked me if I needed a bag! (Which, by the way, is something else different here – at the grocery they have plastic and cloth bags which you have to buy. Everyone generally brings their own bags or shopping baskets. I have never seen so many men carrying shoulder bags and shopping baskets around before. They certainly didn’t do that where I lived in the US – North and South Carolina.)

    There are so many differences between here and the US, at least in my experience (even though I have had recycling before).

    There are a lot fewer cars in towns and more people ride bikes here, or walks. I think everyone can ride no-handed except me! We had a car when we first moved here. We lived in a little town in the country (“auf dem Land”) and were glad to have it. We now live “in town” and do not have one anymore. We go to the library, shopping, visiting friends, etc. all with our bicycles or on foot. We do have a car which we can occasionally borrow if we really need to which helps!

    Dogs – lots of people have dogs and you can take your dog with you almost everywhere (restaurants, banks, stores, etc.). Why? Well, dogs pay taxes here (or at least their human “friends” are required to) so it makes sense that they have so many rights. The amounts vary by town/region (we paid 65 euros for 1 year for a lab/dal mix in one town).

    Working/Jobs/Career – this is VERY different here. If you want to work in the Bank or even the drugstore you have to go to school for it. There really isn’t much you are allowed to do here if you don’t have a paper saying you know how to, and are allowed to, do it.

    Health Insurance – you are required to have it.

    Holidays – Make sure you keep track of the German holidays so you don’t get stuck not being able to buy food as I have before. The stores expect everyone to know when the holidays are, and that they will be closed so they never put any sort of signs up about it (before or during).

    Oh gosh! Now I get to say it. I hope I didn’t bore you. If I did, I’m sorry. I just realized I could write even more! That’s because there is so much to learn when one moves to a new/foreign/different country.

    Viel Spass! Viel Glueck!
    (darn American keyboard…)

    Kitty

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  119. karyn commented
    September 6th, 2008 at 10:36pm

    bored to tears, no. moved to tears, yes. a very nice post.

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  120. Tara commented
    September 7th, 2008 at 5:41am

    Holly ~ Thank you for sharing your experiences in Germany. I can relate to many of them as I married a Turk and have lived in Turkey for the past six years. I know what you mean about having to rely on your sense of humor and the beauty of seeing things from a new perspective. Living as a foreigner here has totally changed the way I view life and myself and has made it richer in numerous ways. If you ever want to pop on over to Istanbul, just let me know! Good luck with everything.

    Taras last blog post: BookMooch

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  121. hvs commented
    September 7th, 2008 at 6:43am

    Greetings from Berlin – I just found your blog today through Dawanda. I’m really looking forward to the 20 September event, and just wanted to leave a note of encouragement. I’m enjoying reading about your experiences – after 3 years here, I still make people laugh at bakeries! I wouldn’t have it any other way. And, I can now think up witty rejoinders in German – only they usually come about 10 minutes after the silly encounter…ah well…

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  122. Kat commented
    September 7th, 2008 at 10:41am

    hi holly, it was so interesting reading your post all about day to day life in germany, some of the things are the same here in the Uk,but the shops are open here sunday’s,well the big stores anyway. And we have a van come round on Wednesdays, selling fresh fish and groceries.
    glad youre enjoying it over there sweetie, love kat

    Kats last blog post: Autumn Knits

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  123. Claire commented
    September 8th, 2008 at 11:20pm

    I realize I am a little late in responding to this post, but I just wanted to say thanks! I am 17 and planning to study abroad in Spain next semester. I didn’t stay on top of my spanish practice this summer, so now I am much farther behind than I should be. Today was my first day auditing a class at a nearby college and it was intimidating, everyone seemed to speak PERFECT spanish! But your article reminded me that as long as i put forth the effort and have a sense of humor, my trip to spain should be incredible! So thank you.

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  124. Grace commented
    September 9th, 2008 at 4:23am

    This is the first time i’ve read about someone’s detailed experience of living in Germany which sounds like such a bliss. Where i come from is quite the opposite, where we can work 7-day weeks and there’s hardly time to slow down. I’m reading this as my family contemplates moving to US cos my husband’s planning to take his phd there. I’m a lil reluctant but reading from yr post encouraging yr readers to take the opportunity to experience life in some other parts of the world (mostly cos of finances & leaving my family and friends here), i think i’ll be more willing to venture out! ;)

    Graces last blog post: 9mth milestones

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  125. New York Muhtari commented
    September 13th, 2008 at 3:04am

    Hi , I am originally from Istanbul and currently living in NY. I just came back from my European trip and maybe for the first time in 7 years (since I moved here), I realized that the life in NY is more like a roller coaster and in Europe it is more slow pace and there are in fact many differences besides this.

    I tried to carry on the Sunday breakfast tradition from Turkey, where we cook for hours together and sit down, enjoy a long meal, read Sunday papers and talk.. My American friends think it is a waste of time to spend that much time in the kitchen and offer to go to diner in the corner.

    On the other hand, in my home country people can ask personal questions and it was ok… but living here for a while made me realized that it is not ok anymore, at least for me. I try to give political answers or joke about it :-))

    Also in my last trip I realized most of the stores do not accept credit cards and you have to carry large chunk of cash while traveling in Europe. I guess I am very spoiled in New York, because sometimes I charge even for two dollars to my credit card…I cannot think of a life without those plastics.

    Thanks for sharing your life wt us.

    An expat in NY

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  126. Tracy commented
    September 17th, 2008 at 12:29am

    Thank you so much for the post Holly! Every trip I take outside of the U.S. makes me long all the more to spend more than just a vacation there. It’s not because I don’t love it here as well, but because I have a desire to see how the world lives. The little intricacies of everyday life that you can’t always get from reading about a place or most importantly its people. I love hearing about your experiences, and would love to hear more stories about your life in Germany.

    Tracys last blog post: Throws for Cooler Weather

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  127. Wendy commented
    September 18th, 2008 at 3:54pm

    Great reflections, thank you!

    With regard to recycling, even here in Seattle you can be fined if they find recyclable products in your garbage bin. We all need to do a much better job of that anyway!

    It sounds like you are really embracing and trying to learn as much as you can about the culture of your new country. Bravo!

    Wendys last blog post: That Whooshing Sound

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  128. Marjolijn commented
    September 20th, 2008 at 6:15pm

    Your story here full of humour made me laugh! But I can very well understand your feelings and impressions, since I lived in different countries as well. My mother is German, my dad is Belgian, but I grew up in The Netherlands. As a student I lived in England/London and later also in France (7 years). I?m married to a Lithuanian man, but nearly all my cousins married someone from ?abroad?: Africa, Japan, China… So I grew up in very international family.
    I would just like to add this: the first reason why shops aren?t open on Sundays in many European countries is a religious reason: Sunday is the day of the Lord and (in former times) people go (went) to Church. But now in bigger towns you can go shopping even on Sundays!

    Marjolijns last blog post: Do you have an appointment?…

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  129. steffi commented
    January 7th, 2009 at 3:56pm

    Hi Holly, welcome to Germany!!! Ich musste so lachen über Deine Hörnchengeschichte! Please write more storys like that ;-)

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