3.10.2008

"It's fine, just fine."

“So how do you like living in Germany?”

I’ve heard this asked over a dozen times in 2 days. And although the question seems innocuous enough, answering it offers me a challenge. After 3 months of living and negotiating a new and foreign land, I haven’t decided whether I like it.

I certainly don’t hate living in Germany. Max and I live a stone’s throw from the vineyards of the Weinstrasse in a stunning home with walls dating back to the Middle Ages and modern features out of Architectural Digest. We enjoy an active social life and have already started to make friends with both local townspeople and expatriates from all over the world. And despite the loss of my income, Max and I have managed to stash money away in savings every month since our move. Really, what’s there to hate?

When I peer into the lives of my fellow expatriates around the globe, I am also struck by just how easy I have it. While others deal with feelings of guilt about prospering in the face of poverty, face a high crime rates, do without some modern conveniences, are fearful of drinking tap water, or sleep with a mosquito net over their bed, I live in Germany--an affluent, safe, modern, and uniquely beautiful country where medieval castles and churches are as prevalent as Starbucks stores back in the Unites States.

Yet, on occasion, I complain. For insignificant and sometimes downright silly reasons, I find fault with life in Germany when the problem is really me. And I can't honestly respond to my friends' query without condemning myself in the process.

19 comments:

kenju said...

At least, you are honest with yourself and that's important! I do hope you enjoy your stay back home.

Danie said...

Three months is early days yet. Give yourself a break. Even though you don't hate it, it's still not home yet. You're still straddling both worlds but it will come. I'll be anxious to hear you feel when you land back in Germany. In the meantime, enjoy your fill of Starbucks.

Lynda said...

Perhaps that is the curse of 'we who like to travel".. the gypsy brigade. A sort of expensive version of 'the grass is always greener..."

Miss 6 calls Starbucks - starbuckets because the cups are almost as big as her head! LOL

Relax, enjoy - and bewunder the fact that you have managed to save money in expensive Germany!

Sizzle said...

You're so hard on yourself. We don't do ourselves any favors when we compare our situations with others. It's good to have perspective but you are allowed to struggle with your new living situation in a new country! That's entirely valid.

Mimi said...

No matter how perfect a place is, there is always something to complain about. We all do it.

I like that you are realistic about your situation, recognize how good you have it, and focus on the positive. Too many expats spend their time comparing life to their home country and complaining.

Zhaan said...

I agree with Mimi...seems to me you have a balanced view.

Give me a call when you can!!

meno said...

That's such a simple question, but the answer is so complex. Of course you can't decide yet, give it another 3 years and maybe, but it will still be complex.

egan said...

I like what people are saying here. Cut yourself some slack and know that it's very early. It's not like you've moved to another state and it's not like I need to tell you this. I really like Sizzle's comment.

Cheryl said...

Go easy on yourself. Especially cause we ALL do it.

catherinette said...

Hey, Diane! How are things? So, how do you like Germany?

gemma said...

Diane,

You are doing great....what an adventure and just think! Thirty years from now you will have such a repertoire of stories to pull out of your memories. Cheers Babe!!

The Grunt said...

My time living in England for a couple of years was strange, in that I never expected for it to feel like home to me. But you know what? About eight months in I felt totally ordinary about everything that was going on around me. It felt like home. When I had to return to the U.S. the adjustment was weird. I suppose it was because I didn't anticipate having to adjust to anything, returning back to the states.

Andrea said...

It's only been a couple of months. Give yourself time. I spent a lot of time fighting liking it here. And do a degree there are some things i am just never going to like about living in Germany. There are some things I wouldn't like no matter where I lived I'm sure. I have learned to take the bad along with the good and try to make the good far outshine the bad.
Every day of the journey as an expat has it's up and downs, just give yourself time to adjust.
Hope you have a great time in the US!

ms chica said...

I can identify. Except for the expatriate part, of course.

It's not a requirement for situations to be deplorable for us not enjoy ourselves, sometimes we simply don't. Having a preference doesn't make you an unappreciative snob, it makes you an individual with an opinion....now the manner in which you express that opinion can leave others wondering.

Many time when people ask these innocent questions, they are considering the romanticized clichés of foreign lands, exotic food and culture. They don't always think about the communication barrier, learning a new culture, or the distance between you and loved ones.

Rositta said...

Having the insight to know that you can't change another country to suit you but can change yourself to suit the country if you want to is the first step. I wish some new immigrants to this country would see things that way...

swenglishexpat said...

Enjoy what you've got, don't feel bad about it, but a personal reality check every now and then is useful. Your lovely home does not make somebody else's worse.

karey m. said...

one of my smartest friends told me "you need to experience a year of holidays in your new home before you really feel AT home."

it's been true so far.

Diane Mandy said...

swenglishexpat - a house is not a home, that is for sure. Where I live doesn't matter, I just use the point to illustrate how nice Germany has been to us and yet I still don't feel at home. Know what I mean?

V-Grrrl said...

I think at three months there's still the thrill of "Wow, I'm living in Europe!!!!"

There's also a sense among new expats that you're a guest in a country and have no right to complain about how you're treated. It's "their" country after all. You'll know it's home when you get pissed off about something and don't feel guilty. : )

The longer you stay, the more you'll find yourself coming to a balanced view--with likes and dislikes and pros and cons based on a bevy of experiences.

I found homesickness comes and goes even after three years. However, I'm so very glad I took this path and would do it again in a heartbeat.