(An aside…before I continue with the three challenges in my “new” life…)
This is what Europe looks like, right?
Growing up, I always had a longing to go to Europe. The fairy tales, the castles, the misty green landscape, Shakespeare, the romantic accents…all enticed me. However, Germany, though certainly a country in Europe, never intrigued me much. Before visiting Germany for the first time my main associations with this country were the following:
- more beer, served by buxom beer maids
- Lederhosen (short leather pants with H-shaped suspenders worn by yodelling sorts)
- Nazis, Hitler, concentration camps, WWI, WWII, and other evils
- an unelegant language
That’s about it. The only thing I liked on the list were Birkenstocks.
Well, I have learned a few things since moving to Germany:
- Love of beer is not a prerequisite to living here (although a water fountain or a simple glass of tap water is harder to come by in public places than I’d like).
- I have never been forced to attend Oktoberfest (a world-renowned party that actually begins in September), which I assume is why I have managed to avoid buxom beer maids.
- I have never knowingly met a person wearing Lederhosen (although a local grocery store currently has an advertisement for a pair for only 80 Euros! Is that a good deal?).
- One can develop an affinity for sausage–if one does not dwell on origins and details of production.
- Unfortunately, history cannot be reversed and corrected, and evil still exists–and will continue to threaten till the Lion and Lamb can coexist in peace. Until then, Nazis and Punks (sometimes only physically distinguishable by the color of their shoelaces) duke it out on the streets. Hitler is dead, but concentration camps are a stark reminder of the horrors he and his followers unleashed on innocent victims (lest we forget). The World Wars have left their marks all over this land in bombed-out ruins and haunting memorials. And again, we must remember so we can try to keep such hatred, such evil, from becoming so powerful. (Last year, Ange and I watched a documentary of Hitler’s secretary reminiscing. It seems she and others involved were extremely ignorant and blinded to the evil they were perpetrating–not only on those they fought against, but also on their own countrymen and women–in delusional world Hitler concocted. I am thankful for the Berlin Jewish Museum and Holocaust Memorial, places that attempt to show the madness and confusion of the tragedy through their architecture and form while educating us about the historical facts.)
- (Please, see my “Schneckenhaus: Snailhouse” post regarding the language.)
- My feet are still very much at home in Birkenstocks, and here they cost less!
Yes, I have learned a few things about my preconceptions. And, as it is with most prejudices, I pre-judged based on lack of information. After personal experience with this particular European country, I can truthfully say that Germany has much more to offer than we Americans often realize. For instance,
- bakeries with hearty bread and delectable cakes in almost every town
- a very varied countryside–carefully preserved (unlike much of the USA’s exploited natural areas; Germany is smaller so they must protect the gifts they have more responsibly than we think we need to in our excess of space from sea to shining sea)
- a culturally-rich capitol city (Berlin, we have heard, has more pubs than London, more museums than Paris, and more bridges than Venice! Plus, Berlin has a very low cost of living for a metropolis. Rather inviting, no?)
- Spreewälder pickles!
- a satisfying health care system (Sometimes I wonder if we were supposed to move to Germany to avoid becoming bankrupt in the States after my personal series of hospital visits, unusual medical tests, and THREE C-sections! Never a word from our insurance; never an extra penny paid for my treatments! Wunderbar!)
- Milka chocolate bars
- and more…which will most likely be revealed as I continue to reflect.
Ah, yes…and I have only just begun to explore. The journey continues. I am still here, and the dawn of each new day brings a fresh start, new experiences, new perspectives.
“The true journey of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust