Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Missing America. Welcome back, Amanda!

Hallo meine Lieben,

today I have something very special for you! You already know my friend Amanda from her previous post where she talked about the things she loves about Germany.
She is back and tells you what she misses about living in the United States. 
Have fun and make sure that you all visit her blog Overseas Adventures!


Guten Tag, Katrins Lieben!
I’m Amanda from Overseas Adventures, and I’m happy to be posting here today. Last time I posted about what I enjoy about living in Germany while Katrin posted on my blog about what she loves about living in Ohio and the United States in general. Today I’ll be sharing what I miss about living in the United States below, and Katrin will share what she misses about Germany here.


Checking out the distance between my hometown of Toledo, OH and Heidelberg, Germany where I currently live. 

Family and Friends

I lived in Florida for a few years while most of my family lived in Ohio, so I wasn’t a stranger to distance, but I could call and text with ease. A plan to do so is a little more expensive than I can justify here, so now I use Facebook chat. When my family wanted to visit in the States or vice versa, it was a matter of about a $300 plane ride or a couple days’ trip in a car. Last my mom checked, it would cost about $3000 for just her and my dad to visit Germany. When my grandmother passed away a few months after we got here, I couldn’t swing the ticket and my husband was away on training besides, so I ended up “attending” the funeral via Facebook chat. Bummer though it can be sometimes to be this far away, I am grateful at least that the internet allows me the opportunity to connect easily with people back home. It has also helped me make some blogging friends which is nice as I have still not made many in person here.

The little desk fan we used in attempts to keep cool.

Air Conditioning

I didn’t think it would be that big a deal not to have air conditioning as I had heard summers can be cool. I did, in fact, have to wear a jacket in part of July, and at the end of August it was already getting chilly enough to switch to long sleeves. However, a good deal of the time, the summer was hot. 90s hot. That wasn’t an issue when I lived in Florida because everywhere was air conditioned. Not so here. I am fortunate the daycare I work in has AC in the rooms, but there is nothing installed in our apartment except ceiling fans in the bedrooms. Until a few days ago, we had those and a little desk fan because my standing one broke in the move. We finally broke down and bought a couple more fans and of course, then it cooled down, but I can’t complain. I never thought I’d be so glad to see the rain and winds come as I was. Perhaps pushing through the summer will help me not grumble as much in winter if it ends up like last year where there was rain more than anything else.

Walking down Hauptstraße (Main St.) on a Sunday. A lot of people walk in the area, but none of the stores are open.

24-7 Stores and Stores Open on Sundays

Here, stores close up pretty early, and most stores (and many other establishments) aren’t open on Sundays. Even our commissary is closed by 9 (although fortunately it is open on Sundays, as is the PX). This isn’t a big deal most of the time if we can plan around it. But when you buy everything you needed but soap at the store or have all your ingredients to make something but one, it becomes annoying not to be over to pop over to Walmart in the middle of the night to grab it. When it’s a rainy Sunday and walking outside is a no go, it’s a bummer not to be able to go to the mall. On the upside, not having those options probably means we don’t spend as much money because we’re not wandering around looking at things we don’t need in addition to that one thing we did.  

 The textbook that arrived the day class started. 

Quick Mail Delivery & Not Being Excluded from Buying

We have an APO box which is awesome to have because it means I can order things from America and pay domestic instead of international rates. But it’s sooo slow sometimes. I ordered a textbook that the seller shipped out July 17th for a class that started August 20th. Plenty of time, right? It took until the day class started for it to arrive. So, I kind of miss when I could order something and know that it was probably going to take a week or less to get to me. It’s also frustrating that sometimes people will not ship to APO boxes. Aside from the few things that can’t be sent because of restrictions, there is no difference in the shipping except that you fill out a customs form. It’s even a couple dollars cheaper to ship if you’re using a flat rate box for APO boxes. So, if you’re a seller I highly recommend shipping to APO/FPO. You’ll make troops and their spouses happy and gain sales you’d otherwise lose out on because we have to look elsewhere.

As you can see from a picture I took for a Photo a Day prompt on what's in my bag, I carry German and American currency (and the time I don't is usually when I need the type I don't have on me).

Paying in Dollars

Technically, I don’t miss this entirely because we do pay in dollars for most things on post, and I can pay in dollars when I buy stuff online. However, for the most part here, we pay in euro. That might not seem like a big deal until you consider the exchange rate. Most of the time we’ve been here, the dollar has only been worth 74 to 79 cents to the euro, so we lose money every dollar we must convert. On top of that, Germany has a 19% Value Added Tax (VAT) on many products and services. The upside is that at least the price tag displays the cost including tax, so you don’t have to figure it out. On the downside, most places do not take credit or debit cards, so you must have the actual euro in hand for a purchase. That is good for not spending beyond your means, but not so great if you plan to make a large purchase and don't like to carry a lot of money.

 The first German version of Mexican food I had: Enchiladas, rice, and beans at Chimichanga.

Decent Mexican Food

 I’ve said before that I’ve never had any “bad” food in Germany, and that’s still true in terms of the actual quality of food. However, the German approximations of Mexican food I’ve had, while not “bad” in terms of quality, weren’t quite right as far as composition. Both times I have had enchiladas, they didn't taste bad, but they don’t taste like enchiladas you could get at a Mexican restaurant in the States. The biggest examples of not-quite-right I have are nachos and salsa. The German version of nachos seems to be slightly seasoned tortilla chips served with a couple sides. In our case we had guacamole, which wasn’t bad, and salsa which reminded me of a cross between tobacco sauce and ketchup with something that might have been paprika. We had nachos at the Hard Rock in Cologne which were slightly better since they were at least loaded with cheese, chicken, and some other toppings. But you know where you would expect refried beans? I kid you not, they used baked beans.

I’m sure I could think of more, but anything else is probably pretty minor. Even much of this list is not that big a deal in the long run. I have found that the people who focus too much on how Germany is not like America in negative ways are the ones who don't enjoy it here and seem not to make the most of their time here. I don’t want that to happen, so I don’t focus too much on what’s not here. I know we will eventually go back to America, and I’ll probably miss things I love about Germany, so I try to make the most of being here and appreciate the time I have. If you've enjoyed this peek into what I miss in the States and would like to know more about life in Germany, please stop by Overseas Adventures where you can read about life in Heidelberg and traveling abroad. Thank you for joining me, readers, and thank you for having me, Katrin. Bis später!


Amanda, thank you so much for your guest post! It was a pleasure and I really hope we can do it again someday!

You can check out my guest post here.

Have a lovely Wednesday, my friends!


  1. ugh don't even remind me, I miss Mexican food soooo much

    1. I tend to get my fix by making stuff at home. It's not quite the same as being able to go out to a restaurant and get it, but at least I know if I'm using beans they're going to be refried or black beans, and if it's salsa it's actually going to taste like salsa.

  2. Great post! Although I am German I can totally relate to what you wrote. I lived in the States for one year what seems to be decades away now (16 years exactly). And my English was way better then ;)
    Anyhow, I am really enjoying the comparison posts of both you and Katrin.

  3. I didn't know that you lived in Florida! How cool!

    1. :) I lived there for about three years. I liked it and didn't really plan on leaving, but then I met my husband, so I go where he goes. I can't complain though since that currently means a few years in Germany.

  4. Again, fun read! It seems a lot of people from USA miss Mexican food when living abroad! Makes me curious to try US-version of Mexican food :) What is your take on US-version Mexican food, Katrin, do you eat/like/love it? Now I'm heading over to Amanda's!

    1. Thanks. My guess would be because our country borders the country it comes from, so places tend to be more authentic. Over here, it seems like they're using approximations. I have heard there is a good Mexican restaurant in Mannheim so I will have to try to find it soon. If I find one, I'll rejoice and blog about it lol.

  5. I must have missed the first post - this is such a great idea Katrin, doing swap blog posts like this, and around a similar theme too. I think it's perfect for you blog :) I always miss Mexican food when I move somewhere that doesn't have decent Mexican food - luckily a wonderful new place just opened here in Canberra - I am sooo happy! xoxox

    1. Thank you so much, Vanisha! You are so sweet! It was Amanda's great idea! She asked me if I would be interested and I am glad she did!
      Glad you have a great Mexican restaurant in your area!

  6. I can totally relate to how it feels to be so far away from family and friends, I get to see mine very rarely too due to the distance. And I'm not even in a different country.
    That's something that I miss too: that the stores were opened on Sundays and late at night in the States. I wish it was different here.
    Love both of your posts :)
    Ich wünsche Euch einen schönen Tag, Ihr Zwei Lieben :D

    1. Yeah it is a bummer sometimes. I know. It's very often that I think of going to the store when it's too late or on a Sunday. It would be nice if it were different here, but I bet the people who work in the stores enjoy the time off. Ich auch wünsche Dir eine schönen Tag. :)

  7. The Mexican food I can definitely relate to. I ordered a margarita once in Berlin and when it came there was no ice in it. Which wasn't too surprising, considering how ice isn't popular in Europe, but still, I thought it was a little weird! Also, I thought my friend had drank some of it, since I had been in the bathroom when it came and it looked sad and half full when I came back because of the no ice.

    I also miss spicy food in Europe. My host Mom in Berlin had made a dish with peppers and told me she didn't put much in the dish, because she wasn't sure if I liked spicy or not. I tried some of the peppers and they were barely spicy at all, so I piled them on my food!

    1. I am sorry for your bad experiences. I have never seen a margarita without ice, not even in Germany. That's really sad. We don't use much ice in pop etc. but we usually like it in cocktails.

      And I am surprised that you weren't lucky with spicy food in Europe! I love spicy food and most people I know do so too! :(


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