1. Having lived in a number of countries like the US, Australia, Taiwan, and now Germany, where do you call home?
While my immediate family no longer lives there, Ohio will always be “home” to me. However, the beauty of traveling and experiencing new cultures is that I have a home all around the world now. Home is less of a physical location to me and more of a feeling. Germany feels as much like home now as the US does.
2. You have lived all around Germany. Do you have a favorite city?
That’s right. I spent a summer in Dresden, half a year in Bonn, and now two years in Munich. While Dresden was beautiful and full of history, I find the atmosphere in Bonn and Munich better. Bonn was great because the German is so much easier to understand compared to Munich and Dresden, but I like the scenery and Bavarian culture of Munich a lot. It’s nice to have the mountains so close and, of course, the beer is bigger and better here!
3. What was most surprising to you when you first came to Germany?
How clean and orderly Germany is. The buildings and streets are all so well kept, and the recycling system is very advanced—separate containers for paper, plastic, colored glass, and compost. I love how eco-friendly Germany is becoming.
4. What are some cultural differences between your home country and Germany?
The tipping and sales tax culture. Tipping is much simpler in Germany. In the US, you tip anywhere from 15% to 25% dependent on the service. In Germany you either tip 10% or just round up to the nearest Euro. It’s much easier to calculate on the spot. Also, sales tax is much more complicated in the US varying from state to state and is calculated in at the register. In Germany the price on the tag is exactly what you will pay.
I’ve also learned that in Germany, even though more and more stores are accepting credit cards, you should always have cash on you. In the US it’s the opposite—cash is a rarity, and most stores won’t even take it anymore!
5. Favorite German word?
Gemütlichkeit, because it doesn’t really have an accurate English translation. It’s more than just a word to describe feeling cozy; It’s more of the atmosphere and emotions you feel. Gemütlichkeit, Wanderlust, Sehnsucht… I love that German has so many words that describe an emotional experience.