“Aren’t you homesick? What about Germany do you miss most?”
These are probably the questions I’ve been asked most often after coming over here. And I almost feel like a traitor when I reply “No” and “Nothing”. In the age of lightfast communication and worldwide import/exports, with a bit of imagination and improvisation, you can pretend to be anywhere anytime if you care to do so. I am simply happy where I am.
People keep telling me about German restaurants in the area – it’s probably a very exotic and nice experience for them. But as to me – I know how to cook authentic German style, and, apart from this, I am also a very experimental cook. So I’m not yearning to go out for Schnitzel. I got it here, right at home, whenever I want to fry one.
Maybe I miss the more than 1,500 kinds of German meaty cold cuts and the more than 300 kinds of German breads, though I’m lucky to live almost around the corner from a wonderful German deli that offers quite an array of both. I just wish there was more variety more widely spread. The cold cut counter in a German corner store or at a butcher’s offers more kinds of cold cuts within half a square yard than most of the aisles of a US supermarket, I’m afraid. And the over-sweetened and spongey quality of most American breads is still undelightful to my German palate. But I also have to say that it has changed quite a bit since my arrival seven years ago, and the variety on bread shelves and in meat counters over here is becoming greater.
Apart from that – I have long got used to working with a washer with a spindle inside instead of a tumbling drum. I found a European style vacuum cleaner that I don’t have to clean out and end up dustier myself than its insides. I have learned to bend plugs so they don’t fall out of their sockets. And I have adjusted to the Washington outdoor lifestyle and discarded most of my high heels from former German city life in the favor of sneakers and flip-flops.
What do I miss? Would you be homesick in Paradise?
I came here out of love and very much of my own free will, ready to stay here for the rest of my life by the side of my wonderful husband. I lack nothing, and the older I get, the more basic and abstract my needs and wants are becoming. Apart from Western Washington’s coverage of all creature comforts, the state offers the most astonishing variety in Nature what with prairies, Alpine mountains, islands, small-towns, cities, National Parks – you name it. There are cultural events in abundance – you only have to choose. There are public libraries for soul and brain food – and you don’t even have to pay for this, contrary to the standard library in Germany.
So many people here say they love Germany as soon as they hear that this is my mother country. They start telling me about their wonderful experiences over there. They even start speaking German with me. But now it’s my turn to experience your country. I let myself go for it with all my senses. Each and every day, I end up overwhelmed with happiness. I find that people around here (contrary to the clichés about Western Washingtonians) are welcoming, warm-hearted, and open-minded. They are dedicated to all kinds of wonderful volunteering. They are aware of and appreciate the amazing landscape they are living in.
Clichés have it that when Germans adjusts, they do it at 150 percent. Maybe it’s because so many Germans generally do anything they do with a 150-%-dedication. It’s what made us to be one of the leading economic powers in Europe. It’s what made us a “nation of poets and thinkers”, a nation of inventors. It’s what made us the world champions in traveling. It has also turned us a nation with one of the highest emigration rates in Europe in the past two decades – maybe because we keep thinking opportunity is better by 150 percent elsewhere.
Just let me make my point again: I came to the US for love, not for having too little opportunity where I was born, grew up, and lived for almost 42 years. No, I am not homesick. No, I miss nothing. And yes, I’m committed by a 150 percent never to let it come that far.