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Germany - A Country of Comfort

Text by: Jessica Ceason

To say I was nervous when the plane touched down is a vast understatement of the feelings I had about being moved from the United States of America to a country in Europe with a reputation as being nothing but rigid and historically terrifying. Truth is, once you touch down, you're greeted by the ideal that if you extend respect, you'll receive respect, which will make your stay quite pleasant. You'll be handed a cup of coffee and a piece of cake during your first hospitable interaction, and you'll definitely be expected to reserve at least a three hour time period for dinner that evening. Living in and visiting Germany can be life changing, if you arrive with an open mind and heart.
© Peri Musser

Regardless of the time of year, your first culinary experience will be a local, seasonal specialty. It will be the first thing you tell your friends and family about when you return, and it will be the first thing you crave when you realize how much you miss this gorgeous country. Whether or not you immediately develop a liking for German foods and pastries will depend highly on your current palate, as European culinary creations in general are lacking in heavy sugars and artificial flavors, but rich in natural sweetness of fruits and freshly ripened savors of vegetables and meats. It wasn't but three months into my European excursion that my palate evolved to prefer and crave home made to heavily salted and sugared mass production.

© Peri Musser

If you find yourself accepting friendship from the locals, you won't feel regret. Your first friends will likely be nature and architecture. They're unavoidable. You're forced to park your vehicle in a garage several blocks from your ultimate destination, and while you walk, you enjoy your scenery and you make a game out of counting the little silver tags the Germans number their city trees with. Before you know it, you're carrying a hand wrapped box with a cuckoo clock inside, and it's again mid-afternoon and time to stop for coffee and cake at one of the many cafés with rows of outdoor seating.

© Peri Musser, Kevin Parker Photography (Bottom Right)

I never felt like a tourist in Germany, and you realize very quickly that looking and acting like a tourist in most cities will quickly leave you feeling the center of negative attention. When out and about, however, it's not difficult to find locals who have their own shops selling popular regional souvenirs that will never hesitate to tell you a story of history or art, or offer you a taste or give you a recommendation for the best hidden secret spot for dinner. As an animal lover, I've always particularly enjoyed dinners out in Germany. Under tables or slumbered in a corner will be the ever popular and respected canine friend. Dogs are welcomed and loved in almost all public establishments.

© Peri Musser

Architecture, art, nature, old world food, coffee, relaxation, and holiday time away from one's employment are all highlights of a life lived in Germany. The initial experience feels somewhat of a shock, but the need for the rapid, highly connected, artificial lifestyle much of the world is accustomed to will eventually dissipate. The more time spent in Germany and in Europe, the more one appreciates the foundation from which many modern world customs evolved. As a glass bottle of Coke drops from a vending machine and upon finishing it and you're asked to recycle, you think twice about reaching for the convenience of plastic when you go home.