Frozen Sushi and No Free Refills

Hi, my name is Madison. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but claim San Antonio, Texas, as my home. My family is in Wyoming, Texas, Nebraska, Montana, Wisconsin, and many other places. When people ask me where I came here from, I say Fort Benning, Georgia, but when people ask me where I live, I say Germany.

I moved to Germany the summer before my sophomore year of high school, and now, a year later, I am writing this. My life up until a year ago had been pretty normal. I went to school every day, I went on vacation to the same places, I did the same thing every weekend; I had a solid routine. I’m not sure if it was moving here that pushed me out of my bubble of normalcy or if it was me, just deciding to try something different.

I had moved around my entire life and seen so many places, but the thing was that I never really saw those places, I was always just focused on where the mall was, where I could get food, and where was the nearest free WiFi. When I moved to Germany I realized, there were hardly any malls, restaurants, or WiFi. The only thing you can do for fun and for free is go outside. In the first couple months of living here, I spent a lot of time with my family and a lot of time working on school. Once I made friends, things picked up again and I started having plans on the weekends.

My family and I started driving to nearby towns and making day-trips to France, and we started seeing new things. For the first time, I was actually seeing these new places . We went to Trier, Mannheim, Saarbrücken, Normandy, and we even drove down to Paris. The more things I did for the first time, the more memorable these trips got. I started making lists of things I’ve never done and started slowly crossing them off. Going on a high ropes course, zip-lining, going on a ski lift to the top of a mountain, getting my ears pierced for the first time, getting eye contacts, driving a stick shift, and jumping off a diving board (this last one was actually a pretty big deal for me haha). I even started trying new foods like escargot, duck, and squid. I was addicted to trying new things.

Moving to Germany might have increased my appetite for adventure, but it also created obstacles I’d never even thought of. The longer I was here, the more differences I noticed. When you are at a restaurant, you have to pay for refills and you don’t tip the waiters. At the age 16, you can legally drink, but you can’t get a license to drive. There is no ice, no Advil, and no where to get sushi, except the freezer department on base. The dinning options are limited to German, Italian, and American cuisine, with a few Mexican food joints and maybe some Chinese fast food trucks.

Another thing that I miss from the states is Netflix. Things like Netflix, Pandora, Songza; they don’t stream here. I also miss American electrical outlets; you can’t use your blender unless you’ve got a transformer, even then it still might not work. Lastly, I miss air conditioning the most, well, after free bathrooms. I miss free bathrooms the most.

I guess living over here has its pro’s and its con’s and it all equals out. Sometimes in life, you just have to take the good with the bad and just enjoy the ride.

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