After a month, we’re starting to adapt to some of the changes that come with living overseas. But I’ve been brainstorming about some of the differences.

Things we had in America and now miss having (in no particular order):

  • Crackers for the kids, like Goldfish and Wheat Thins (Germany doesn’t really have any crackers to speak of)
  • Frozen corn (ditto)
  • Retail stores open on Sundays (a forced “day of rest” really makes Saturdays pretty miserable)
  • Television stations and newspapers that we can understand
  • Kirkland  (Coscto) diaper wipes
  • Small Ziploc bags
  • Cheap clothes for kids (does exist in Germany, but much harder to find)
  • One-stop shopping. Doesn’t exist here.
  • International cooking ingredients – hard or impossible to find here (especially Mexican)
  • White bread
  • Healthy add-ons to kids’ fast food meals – instead of apples slices or mandarin oranges or string cheese, in Germany the fast food chains offer CANDY along with the chicken nuggets and fries
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Streaming TV and movies (in English) – Netflix and Hulu don’t work here
  • A car. Nice not to have to deal with parking, gas, and maintenance, but it would be really helpful to be able to drive on occasion for convenience
  • Free libraries. Library cards here cost €30 per year and have limitations on borrowing
  • Teriyaki shops – a favorite with my kids in America but nonexistent here
  • A clothes dryer. And a larger capacity washer, too , for that matter
  • Dishwasher!
  • A shower I can stand up in
  • Target stores
  • Racial diversity reflected in the media. While there is a lot of diversity among the citizens, even in our smaller-sized city, all of the television and commercials are extremely “white washed”. Rather disturbing.
  • Good tasting tap water

Things we now have that we’ll miss in America:

  • Wonderful walking paths, including tunnels underneath busy intersections to make crossing easy (especially tons of ramps and elevators everywhere for strollers!)
  • Ikea, H&M, and other large chain stores within walking or short bus ride distance
  • Church bells pealing on Sunday mornings
  • Geydan Gnamm – a catering facility that offers delicious, hot and healthy meals to go (perfect for nights you don’t feel like cooking)
  • Delicious chocolate (available in the US but more expensive)
  • Beautiful parks and playgrounds all over within walking distance
  • Beer gardens and the outdoor café/restaurant culture
  • Gelato shops
  • Retail clerks that offer candy to kids (this happens everywhere. Sam has learned that by simply saying “Danke” he will be given candy at the bakery, pharmacy, or retail shop) — a bit of a pain for parents striving for healthy diets, but a nice gesture nonetheless
  • Wonderful public transportation systems that truly run on time
  • Small food packaging – love that the foods aren’t HUGE, both junk foods and also things like milk here come in nice, compact, square cartons that can be stacked in the fridge
  • CHEAP utilities – cell phone contracts with unlimited data are only €35/month (we paid $90 in the US) and prepaid phones with data included are even less, and a quality internet/phone/TV bundle only costs €30/month … much cheaper by far than anything we could find in America (we used to pay $180)
  • Measuring furniture in metric – it actually is a lot easier to remember dimensions that are 24x60cm rather than in minute fractions (5 1/8″ x 11 ¾”)
  • Speedy delivery – DHL delivers many things domestically in only a day or two relatively affordably – one of the benefits of being in a smaller country
  • Travel options – how amazing to be able to be central to so many other European destinations. Joe’s students spent their summers in Spain, Austria, Ireland, Greece, etc.
  • Bathroom attendants. Public restrooms aren’t so scary to go in, even for the men (according to my husband), because the attendants do such a good job

So, pros and cons on both sides. Funny that so many on the first list are food-related. It’ll be interesting to see how we feel about some of these after the end of this year!


2 thoughts on “Comparisons

  1. Very interesting, Betsy, and good you wrote these down early in your stay, as things that were “different” become for me, things that were noticeably different in a situation at first become less noticeable and seem “normal” and hard to recall later on. Now you have your “fresh” perspective to go back to later and see how it seems to you then. Love your posts, Sharon

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