The first 100 days are said to be significant. Not sure who, exactly, but let's go with it. Today, it has been 100 days since we returned from the Germany and started the next chapter of our lives in Texas. In that time, we have grappled with not only reverse culture shock, but culture shock in general. In case you didn't know, Texas is not quite the same as the north. So, what are some of the thoughts that crossed our minds in the last 100 days? What are some of the things we miss, and some of the things we are glad to have back?
US drivers are terrible. Hands down, Germans are better drivers because they actually follow the rules of the road, unlike most Americans. And let's not even talk about how glacial the highways here feel after the large expanses of speed limit-less stretches on the Autobahn.
We miss German bread dearly. The Germans sure do know how to bake a mean loaf of bread or some broetchen. The stuff here tends to be too fluffy and sweet, and is much more expensive. I wonder if German bakeries franchise into the US?
But, I can buy bread, or any food for that matter, on Sundays, or in the middle of the night. Thanks to grocery stores that are open on Sundays, some even 24 hours, there are no more mad dashes to the store on Saturday right before they close!
And while we are on the subject of food, let's talk about Texas barbecue. BBQ in Michigan is basically grilled meat with barbecue sauce on top. In Germany, it's basically just grilled meat. But in Texas, it's smoked, slow-cooked, deliciousness. The barbecue sauces are better too. And the pure abundance of steak in the grocery store in mind-boggling. Let's just say we have consumed our fair share of meat since we've been back, but there are certain cuts we miss from German. Nackensteak, I'm looking at you....
Texas is hot. And humid. Michigan can get hot, and so can Germany, as evidenced by the Summer of 2015 that saw temperatures hovering around 100 for weeks, but I was unprepared for the heat that is Texas. Thankfully, everywhere is air conditioned, unlike Germany. You're pretty much just running from one air conditioned space to another and spending very little time outside. I won't lie, I'm missing sweater weather right now.
We get some pretty wicked storms down here too. Aaron and I love a good thunderstorm, and we had more in the first two weeks in Texas than we saw in the two years we were in Germany.
We (mostly) speak the language here, but I get asked nearly daily where I'm from, because I don't talk right. Thankfully, the difference in a northern and southern accent is far less than the difference between Hoch Deutsch (proper German) and Pfaelzisch, the local dialect spoken in south eastern Germany. They are pretty much two different languages.
Most people would not agree with this, but I do have to say the beer is better here, mostly because Americans don't have to abide by the purity laws (Reinheitsgebot) that German brewers do. I do love me a good craft beer. But the trade off is the wine. US wines taste so sweet to me anymore, and dollar for dollar, are not as good as the wine I could buy in Germany. Sure I can buy the German stuff, but a bottle that used to cost me 4 euro at Rewe, costs me $10-15 here.
Small talk is pretty much non-existent in Germany, and I was ok with that. Here, everyone "does" small talk, even more so in the south. It's not uncommon to hear to complete strangers conversing about their private lives like they've known each other for years, but really only just met. Which bring me to eavesdropping, something we can do once again since we are fluent in the language. But, that also means people can eavesdrop on us much more easily too.
The itchy feet are starting to hit. We haven't traveled in months and the wanderlust is starting to creep back in. But we "only" have 4 weeks of vacation here, not the 6 we enjoyed in Germany (or the flight budget!).
I miss being able to walk everywhere. When I was on maternity leave, it was easy for me to walk to run all the errands I needed. Here, I have to use a car - walking is not only not feasible, it's patently impossible. And with a baby in tow, it's an even bigger hassle. I could put Evelyn in the stroller and go, oftentimes she would fall asleep, now I have to buckle and unbuckle the car seat, carry her in, find a cart (or carry her), and then finally do my errand. And this process might be repeated multiple times over the course of the day. It's a pain and I miss how much walking I did in Germany. I feel so lazy here!
All in all, moving back has left us with a mixed bag of emotions. I enjoy the familiarity of some things, but miss Germany for others. Mannheim had finally started to feel like home not long before we left, which made leaving even harder. It's going to take some time to get to the same point in Texas. In the meantime, we will try to be patient until it does (at which point, we will probably be moving again!).