5 things I’ve learned from living in Germany

As some of you may know, I’ve been living in Germany on/off for the last 3 years. Although it’s been a roller coaster, it’s also been an experience in my life that I’ve truly come to cherish. The move from NYC to a small town in the middle of nowhere Germany was a big change for me. I’ve lived in smaller towns before but I’ve never felt so uncomfortable with not having all of the “american” comforts I’ve grown up with. It only takes crossing an ocean to make you appreciate everything you’ve taken for granted….like Chipotle! However, I’ve adjusted and learned to truly appreciate and love this German lifestyle. After watching the 2016 First Republican Presidential Debate, I’ve thought a lot about all of the great things that Germany has given to it’s citizens. I’m not here to compare the homeland and the Deutschland, rather, celebrate and share some of the great accomplishments and things I’ve come to adore about this country.

Let me start by saying that these are only a few great things about germany….I could go on and on! No country is perfect but I like to think that this is a country that has a lot of accomplishments to rejoice about.1237877_10151873476600746_497566969_n

A statue by our local Church in Bad Windsheim

1) Education – IT’S FREE! Just like our public schools from kindergarten to 12th grade education is free. Germany goes even further and offers free college tuition! Again, not a perfect system but FREE COLLEGE! Just recently it became free for american’s to go to a german college and free education is definitely a reason to smile. After all, the future of a country depends on its young generation to acquire knowledge and better the country. They say knowledge is power right? So education is one of the best investments in my opinion. It’s here that I’ve learned just how benifical this can be. After all, I’m still trying to pay off my student loans…

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My apartment Building in my town, Bad Windsheim

2) Recycle – Definitely a learning experience! Here, you have to recycle. It’s the law. If you do not recycle you will be fined. Seems a bit dramatic but there’s nothing dramatic about saving the planet. It wasn’t until I actually started separating my trash that I realised just how important it actually is! I have 1 big garbage can for food waste, 2 medium-sized garbage cans for paper and plastic, and then 2 small garbage cans for glass and aluminium. Which would you guess is the first to fill up? If you guessed food waste…you’d be wrong. The plastic garbage fills up within 3 to 4 days! Although, I don’t just recycle plastic bottles. Anything that is made of plastic is recycled including milk cartons which I actually assumed was cardboard at first. The food waste fills up every 2 months. Most germans put their waste in a small container and then at the end of the day bury it in the garden for fertilizer. Full circle as it should be! If everyone made an effort and recycled…the world would be a cleaner place! It also doesn’t take a lot of extra effort. Just one short trip to the recycle center!

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Skiing in the Alps at the border of Austria and Germany

3) Vacation – Who doesn’t like to vacation?! On my travels I have noticed that on every tour or hotel I encounter I always run across americans, chinese, and germans! Now America and China have huge populations but Germany is a small country. The reason they vacation so often is because their country gives them so many holidays! They truly believe that all people need vacations and time off from work to improve mental happiness. This is common in many countries in Europe. Scientifically they have some of the happiest citizens in the world. Seems like it’s working to me! I can only speak from my experiences and one of the perks of working for the army in Europe is that we get a 4 day weekend every month….if we don’t have to train. It’s during this time that we are able to travel and although I feel like I need a vacation from vacations sometimes I couldn’t feel more mentally rejuvenated after them.

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Bad Windsheim Christmas Market

4) Health – I would like to make a shout out to Germany’s universal health care! Also not perfect, but giving people the right to basic care and the right to live a healthy/full life is something to celebrate! I have not experienced it myself but my uncle is a neurosurgeon and psychologist so I have gotten some insight about the system. Now it can be argued that citizens pay a hefty amount in taxes here but it’s almost a fair trade-off when you don’t have THOUSANDS of dollars in debt from student loans and everyone has the right to get health care.

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A lake I found with a friend on a road trip to see monkeys!

5) Nature – From national parks to an individual town planting hundreds of flowers every spring …Germany isn’t short of beautifully scenery. I’d have to say that for me visiting lake Obersee in Southern Germany was where I really learned to appreciate that beauty. The lake, known as the kings lake, is flanked with beautiful mountains that could echo a pin drop. The reflection on the water is so clear that you could bird watch from a puddle. The hikking doesn’t disappoint either with huge fields that will make you want to frolic tand sing the hills are alive! It’s also the place where Hitler crafted his beloved Eagle’s Nest on a nearby mountain. Nature and preservation is a big priority in Germany! Game hunting is extremely regulated and controlled. They protect their animals. They even build “nature” bridges for animals to cross highways. It’s also against the law to destroy Bee Hive’s. You have to call in and get someone to remove the hive for you so that you don’t harm any bee’s. In truth, without their pollination nature wouldn’t be such a pretty picture. It’s here I’ve learned that nature is something to be respected so that my children and their children can enjoy it for years to come.

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Lake Obersee

Aside from the above photo, all the others photos are my favorite pictures that I’ve taken during my stay. They we’re all taken in Bavaria and many are from my town, Bad Windsheim. For more photos like this follow me on instagram @ citygirlriss

Happy Traveling

City Girl Riss

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