It’s been 6 months since I’ve moved from Stuttgart. It has been a mixed bag of feelings for me to be here. Living on the West coast of America has been different. The first reason some might think is kind of stupid, but I find it kind of interesting, especially after living in Europe for 8 years. I feel like I have more time to do things. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have friends. I don’t know if it’s because I’m 3 hours behind the East coast and everything in America is based off of the East coast, but time seems endless.
I get up early to watch football, the games end, then I can go and do things on a Sunday evening. I actually like watching Sunday night football, then I start watching random series, because the game is done, then because the West coast has their own separate prime time stuff, I get the best of both worlds. Like I said, this probably means nothing to a lot of people, but this is cool to me.
Living in Vancouver, Washington has been nice. I have told people that if this was the place I really wanted to stay. I would stay here. I actually do like certain things about this area. Yes, it is the Pacific Northwest (PNW), which means so much rain, especially right now in the winter and my work hours. I leave and come out of work, it’s dark and I wonder what am I doing with my life.
What else do I like about this area, the grocery shopping selection in proper American fashion is great, in certain cases. I don’t know if it’s the PNW or what. Other than what I was used to with a Whole Foods, bulk food bins are my addiction. After living in a small apartment in Stuttgart with a not much space, along with at German markets, a lot of things were sold in smaller quantities, I realize I don’t need a lot of things.
With that being the case, the bulk bins are awesome! My favorite place to go to is Winco. I have been shopping at a lot of grocery stores, but man the fact I can get almost any type of flour in the bulk bins in any amount, at a very reasonable price is amazing to me. For me, it’s not that I want to have a lot of stuff, rather I would prefer to have small amounts of things, so if there is a recipe that I have in mind, it’s great to almost just get the right amount of stuff. Another thing I’m not a fan of is to have a lot of stuff laying around just to go to waste. I’m also not a fan of having to freeze things. There is a reason I haven’t bought frozen vegetables in over 5 years. I’m a person who loves peas a lot, I now just wait for pea season, so I can get them fresh or not at all.
There are a lot of things that I can highlight about being back in America. Some of which I will detail down the road. Right now, though it’s a point of reflection after being back in the state for 6 months. The things I’ve realized I don’t miss or how I’ve realized I’ve changed over being gone from the states in 8 years. To go along with that, what I currently miss about being in Germany.
How I’ve Changed
Bacon is great, but…
Yes, I’m going to start with food. I’m a foodie. I just have to let it be and go with it. When I was first living in Stuttgart, I was a normal American, eating bacon here or there. It’s not like I was throwing it back all the time, but my weekend breakfast, or if I was out somewhere. I would totally love to have it. Over time, I fell out of a need to have bacon. The reasons are several. The first, even though I worked on a US base, where I had the ability to purchase American products. I really enjoyed the things my host country had. That meant, about 90% of my shopping was done at German shops. I mean the percentage is probably more, but I’ll go with 90% just to be safe. German bacon doesn’t have the same fat content and the way the bacon was sliced was totally different as well. German bacon is sold and sliced very thin, so those factors, plus you find other really interesting things to eat. Bacon just wasn’t as important to me. I would get some here or there, but not as much as I use to.
Driving isn’t great, give me a train or bus
Public transportation in Europe, especially Germany is fantastic. Seriously, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to drive to work every day. I can’t say how much I would drive. My ability to take a train to the majority of the places I wanted to see was great. Not to mention where my apartment was located, I could walk to a lot of things. When I did my grocery shopping, I would just get up, go to the market get my items and I’d be good to go. I did drive to a lot of places because it was just convenient, but when I was taking my last few trips, there was no car in sight. I would leave from my apartment, take the train to the airport, then that would be it.
When you come from a driving culture, you just think you have to drive all the time. Though Germany has the Autobahn (freeway) and Stuttgart has one of the biggest car cultures, you would still be able to do a lot without a car.
Walking and being centralized is amazing
I lived really close to the center or downtown area of Stuttgart for 6 years. It’s not like being in the states in a downtown area, but still imagine knowing you can just walk out of your door, go out for a nice dinner, get some drinks, and enjoy. I know a lot of people would say that Stuttgart wasn’t the best place, but it fit me really well. Things were close, there was a lot going on. It just felt right. I also learned how nice it was to just walk around. Not feel confined to a car. Just going out noticing things around my neighborhood. There would be days when I would be walking around with my headphones on. Other days I wouldn’t want to have any distractions. My distractions were just seeing the city that I lived in. It was nice being in a city, a place that had energy. Was it small? Yes, totally, but it was big enough to be just right.
The Value of Friendships
I have discussed this with many people and the fact that good friends and proper friendships really meant something while I was away. I have so many people who I really feel like are people I can always reach out to for a long time coming. I don’t know if it was because of my age or the moment that I moved, but I definitely learned what it meant to meet people. Learn about them and what they were about. It’s something right now I am finding is really hard to do. I never thought about making friends or how easy or hard it would be. I thought it was something you just did. Little did I know when I moved back. I did something way different and special in some ways.
You don’t need as many things you think
When you are an American, you know that you have the ability to have so many things. The real question is, do you need those things? I have really thought about buying certain things, then said to myself, “Do I really need this?” The answer came out to being, no, I really didn’t need it. I came to this realization based off of a lot of different things. One was after I read the Marie Kondō book, then it also hit home when my grandmother passed away. I ended up selling a lot of my stuff and mailing only the things I needed. The liberating feeling of not having a lot of stuff was really great. Now when I’m in my apartment able to not really worry about certain items, has been great. Let me tell you when you have met a lot of people or dated someone who didn’t have a lot and it was on purpose. You know that you don’t need a lot of items to make it. Downsizing isn’t a bad thing at all.
These are just some things I’ve felt I need to share. A lot has changed while I’ve been back, while some have stayed. Have you ever lived overseas and now are back in the states or somewhere else? If so, what have you realized has changed in you once you moved back. It’s a question I do wonder about, but honestly never reached out to friends to ask them.
I think I’ve just given myself some homework for next time.
Hi Jacob. Thanks for sharing. I have many of those same feelings when I visit home for a couple of weeks, so I know how you feel. I am really going to appreciate every minute I have left in Europe. Take care.