Living in Germany

So, I had a number of people ask to hear about what life in Germany was like, so I thought I’d briefly talk about it. My husband (who is half-French, half-German) and I lived there from 2009 to 2012.

This castle was literally visible from our kitchen window. Pretty cool...

We were actually in Bayern (a.k.a. Bavaria) right beside the borders with Austria and Switzerland. That part of Germany is quite a different animal from the rest of the country. Just like the Southern US is in no way comparable to the north, you will find a different way of speaking, different foods, different prominent religions (a lot of Catholicism in Bayern versus more Lutheran/Protestant elsewhere), and different ways of living.

I’ll be honest: I never got too strong with the German language. I could get by, certainly, but I was always too shy to be very good at speaking it. I also didn’t leave our house much (that’s just part of being a full-time writer), and so I never really practiced/got over my shyness as much as I perhaps should have. But such is life.

At least, while we lived in Germany, I got to see a lot of Europe. I went to England, France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Croatia–plus all over Germany as well. It was pretty cool to be able to reach Berlin in the same time it now takes me to fly to Atlanta. Or to reach Egypt in the same time it takes me to get to L.A.

Plus, there’s no denying that Germany–and Austria and Switzerland–in the summertime is one of the most beautiful places EVER. Where we lived was especially stunning. In the foothills of the Alps and right beside the Bodensee, it felt like I was constantly in The Sound of Music.

This was the village where we lived. It's like something out of a fairytale, huh?

(It should come as no surprise that my heroine’s homeland in my current fantasy WIP is based 100% on where we used to live. Or that I have a middle grade WIP in southern Germany near Munich.)

And the food–oh goodness, the food. That is the number one thing I miss most about Germany. From Flammkuchen to Wurst, from the dense, whole grain breads to delicious pastries, from the best kebabs ever (there’s a huge Turkish population in Germany, and subsequently, the kebabs are amazing) to deliciously authentic Italian food…

Mmmmmmm. I am actually salivating and feeling dizzy with hunger as I type this. I really miss the food from Germany. And the beer. 😉

Something else I miss (but that used to annoy me) is the slower way of life and the real focus on family-time. At first, it blew my  mind that everything would close at 6:00. How was anyone ever supposed to get a hair cut? (Admittedly, we were in a rural/touristy area–I’m sure things were open later in big cities like Munich.) And why was EVERYTHING closed on Sundays?

But then I got used to it–and I came to value Sundays because there was literally nothing to do but enjoy the day.

It was also great for writing. Every morning, because of the 6-hour time difference, I had uninterrupted time to write and focus on my books. Then, by the mid-afternoon, the US would wake up. Emails, tweets, and phone calls would start to roll in, so I would shift gears to the more “administrative” side of writing.

The Frenchman and I in our Bavarian garb at Oktoberfest, 2011.

But eventually, that time difference became something of a curse. Sure, I had that distraction-free morning to write, but then my evenings–evenings I ought to be enjoying with the Frenchman–were swallowed up. Even when I wanted to turn the internet off, I couldn’t seem to keep myself from constantly checking emails/answering tweets/etc.

And as time passed, the Frenchman’s job grew more and more stressful. He was working all the time, and honestly, I thought his company was taking major advantage of him. So, when a much smaller American company offered him a job that would bring us both back to the US…he took it.

Now we live in a new area that’s also beautiful (but there are no castles :(), have finally bought our own home (to which we are moving to right now!), and have settled into the low-stress life of rural America. I’ve learned to carve out distraction-free writing time (usually in the early mornings and late at night) and to enjoy evenings/weekends with my husband.

All in all, I’m happy to be in the US and closer to my family (I really missed my parents while I was in Germany), but I wouldn’t rule out living there again. 😉

So that was life in Germany.

Also, I discovered some amazing music, but I have to say that Peter Fox remains one of my absolute faves. This song, “Haus am See”, is just…awesome.

You tell me: Have you ever visited Germany/Europe? Do you have any specific questions about life there?