When the opportunity for Germany came up, my husband was thrilled about moving there. Me, not so much, but we really did 8 years ago. Our DEROS (departure entitlement return) was 4 years, but here we are 8 years later.
Stuttgart, Germany. Really?
Yes, and we have loved it!
This wasn’t moving to another state, it was a move across an ocean and settling in another country. Yes, we would miss our families and friend, but we saw this as an opportunity to learn another culture, do something we’d never done before, and travel places we dreamed about. I might as well embrace it.
Let the excitement begin!
At first, we used our children’s classroom experiences to determine our travel occasions. This started out visiting the Eifel Tower in Paris, visiting Berlin to learn more about the German history and actually standing at Checkpoint Charlie, we later added one some really cool adventure by going to the Disney Castle.
However, I’m often asked weekly by newcomers, “What it’s really like living overseas as a military spouse?” “How do I embrace living in another country?”
Housing off-Post is terrific.
We live off-post, but many live on base and are equally as satisfied. At first, I was afraid to live off-post since I didn’t know German, but quickly discovered that Germans were eager to use their English. We have been blessed to immerse ourselves in the culture and it has been terrific. We have a wonderful relationship with our neighbors and I remember when we moved it; they brought us a plate of fresh-baked goodies as well as a plant. Relationships are KEY to Germans.
We live in a slightly metropolitan town about 15 minutes from the base, that not only has it’s own farmer’s market that is set up twice a week and a mall within walking distance. This has given us the opportunity to have the small village experience as well as getting to the mall if we want to do some shopping nearby without traveling downtown.
EVerything grows here.
I love fresh flowers and every Saturday morning, I love going to the fresh market to pick up flowers to put on our dining room table and throughout the house. The flowers remind me of the importance to embrace where I’m planted at this season in my life.
Transition and not being planted had become a lifestyle as a military spouse, and I had learned the art of looking polished on the outside, but hurting on the inside. Fear and depression put me on a path of destructive behaviors instead of trusting in God and living a life of joy and freedom.
You must learn how to rely on God as your Resource.
shopping is an adventure.
There was a lot to learn about where to get those American products that I’m used to getting. I have learned how to get my favorite items that I would get from Target or Walmart from a local store. And to decorate our home, I’ve found places similar to Lowe’s and Home Depot. Be sure to get your German-American Store Comparison Checklist.
And Think about it ~
We have access to our Army Post Exchange and Commissary both filled with everyday American products. They don’t have every single item, but they do have the most.
One thing I’ve had to remind myself is that relying on family or others to fulfill what I am desiring will always lead to me feeling empty or unfulfilled. It’s important that I keep my trust in God to fulfill every need while I’m living overseas and praying for God to show me how to embrace life now.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not into thy own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall directyour paths.” Proverbs 3: 5,6
food is amazing.
I love food! Most of the European food standards are higher than that of the US. Around here local farmers and fresh markets are selling the freshest ingredients year-round. From seafood to eggs that we purchase from our local farmer, we’ve have experienced some of the best eating experiences. Our family often eats out to experience the culture and added family time.
Enjoying a meal is an art and the hospitality is amazing. The experience goes beyond sitting down to order, get your food, the check, pay the bill and leave… It’s more of “spend the day”. You enjoy the ambiance and the conversation. You’re asked if “everything’s okay” you keep eating and eating or sitting and chatting until YOU ask for the check so you can pay. Hospitality is the BEST and the food has been excellent. You will not be rushed out of the restaurant. However, remember that many restaurants require a reservation.
entertainment and amusement parks.
Places to visit with your family are endless in and around the Stuttgart area. There’s so much to do! Outdoor activities are very popular. A few of the best places are Europa Park and Legoland. One thing I’ve learned is that Germany loves FESTS. The Spring Fest and October Fest are amazing. They remind of the State Fairs I would attend as a child, but on a “whole another level” of excitement! They are truly the best!! And then, of course, the Christmas Markets are a favorite and the season of Christmas is absolutely marvelous. I remember using a checklist of all the fun things to do outside of the hotel when we first moved here. Be sure to download yours today!
Life is what you make it.
Living life as a Military family overseas is much like living in America. We go to the grocery store, cook American meals and shuffle our kids from one event to another. Watching American T.V. can be a bit challenging without a VPN Provider, but our daughter and I manage to watch The Bachelor with each new season.
Getting out to explore in town is always a wonderful experience. One of my favorite places is Rubble Mountain. It was on a visit here that I finally grasp that this was a new season in life that I had to embrace.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
It’s New Season
I am here for a reason I thought and I must surrender to God’s will and embrace where I am planted. I repented and vowed that I would trust God to direct my path.
God has placed you where you are to embrace His love and get to know Him as your Abba Father. To surround you with others to encourage you if you’re feeling disheartened and lonely. The problem is that we allow ourselves to miss out on the process of what God is trying to teach us.
Arrival to Germany presented challenges and I allowed the enemy to discourage me with ‘stinkin thinkin’ which created a stressful life, but I’m glad I learned how to embrace living overseas.
Slow down on your journey so you can smell the flowers, feel the breeze on your skin, and look up to God for direction. He’s waiting for you.
Embrace where you are living overseas!
What can you do today to make living overseas more enjoyable? Share in the comments below.