I arrived in Germany last Tuesday, just in time for Matthias’ birthday. So far, I am loving being in Germany. As I hoped and anticipated, the culture shock isn’t so strong or severe like it was in Japan. Germany is quite similar to the U.S. but I am enjoying the differences so far. I am staying in Neuried, a small town in Southwest Germany very close to the French border and the Black Forest.

I am staying with Matthias’ family so I get to hear German ALL the time. I am picking up lots of words every day so I am thrilled about that. German is very difficult but I am thankful that the couple of months I spent learning German have paid off so well. For many reasons I HAVE to learn German, or at least have a basic grasp of speaking it.

Here are a few VERY random thoughts about Germany so far:

1) I love the bread – it’s rich and has a very authentic, earthy feel and it’s the BEST! I feel sorry for Germans living in the U.S. without their bread.

2) Many people here speak English extremely well. From the moment I got off the plane, I’ve been amazed at how many Germans speak English sooooo well. I’ve met lots of folks since I arrived, mostly church folks, and it’s so comforting and nice to be able to talk to people even though I don’t speak German yet.

3) I’ve been surprised how deeply warm and loving the people are – I had heard Germans are a bit reserved. I know it’s because I am meeting Matthias’ family, but I’ve loved getting so many hugs and kisses since I arrived!

4) I love German food! The only hard part has been getting used to German breakfasts. In the U.S. I rarely eat breakfast but if I do, it’s usually yogurt, juice, and/ or a piece of fruit. German breakfasts are amazing and very filling. Since I arrived, I’ve been served bread, pretzels, lunch meat, jams, jellies, muesli, juice, croissant, and cream at breakfast time. The other day I had a salami sandwich for breakfast!

5) Alcohol galore – it’s true that Germans like their alcohol. The other night Matthias and his family were drinking liquor with pieces of gold floating in the bottle. They also drank herb, peach, and cherry flavored liquors just to name a few. The legal drinking age is 16 (for beer) and 18 (for liquor). It was funny watching Matthias’ teenage brother (legally) drink a beer.

6) The autobahn is as fast as they say – today in the car Matthias was driving at 180 kilometers (like 110/ mph).

7) Walking around towns/ small cities – I loved walking around a little town with Matthias and his family the other night. I wish I could describe it but it was like walking through a fairy tale place of my dreams with the lights, cobblestone streets, and beautiful old buildings. It’s amazing to walk around a city that was founded in 1278!

There are so many other things I love here but I don’t have time to write about it all at the moment. I’ll write more next time.

Happy New Year! I had a lovely time ringing in the new year with young adults from Matthias’ church. For dinner, we grilled meat, cheese, potatoes, and vegetables on something called a raclette – it was so delicious!

Weird English is not only found in Japan!

Matthias enjoying his dinner

To ring in the new year, we went outside and enjoyed lots of fireworks. I got to see fireworks I had never seen before, especially since it’s illegal in New Jersey. Here is Matthias holding a sparkler in his mouth!

I had never seen this before – a Chinese floating lantern

Dinner with Matthias’ darling grandparents

Roast ham, red peppers, tomatoes, and the best potato salad I’ve ever tasted

Divinely delicious apple pie – homemade by Oma (grandma)

with Aunt Petra and Matthias’ grandparents, Erwin and Ilse

I think Oma Krammel liked me… 🙂

Matthias’ mom dishing up the BEST ice cream!

I enjoyed eating asian food in Japan – it was really good and I can’t say I’ve had anything quite like it in the U.S.

More funny English – “cult at home”