Yay guys! Here I am again, after disappearing for some time! I have made an amazing trip throught Peru and Bolivia and it was crazy, I wasn’t having much connection there…cause I actually didn’t want to, to be honest hahah… Both are amazing countries and I took the time to enjoy every piece of nature, culture and history we had around, it’s good to turn off sometimes. In the next weeks I will be starting posting about the trip, so don’t forget to subscribe to keep up with the new posts.
In this meanwhile, let’s enjoy another interview of the Through Foreigner Eyes Series, this time, let’s hear from Kristin, an American lady living in Germany!
Hey there Kristin! Tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you, where are you from, where are you living now, etc?
My name is Kristin Kohler and I am a fashion and travel blogger living near Nuremberg, Germany. I am originally from Northern Virginia, and moved to Germany 2 years ago. I am a former Marine and currently finishing up my masters in International Relations while working full time. Besides fashion and travel, I enjoy running, reading, and playing with my sweet Australian Shepherd, Rascal.
What brings you to Germany?
I moved to Germany 2 years ago because my husband, who is in the Army, got stationed at a military base here. It’s wonderful because I have a lot of comforts from home, like a grocery store on the base with American food and a large community of Americans to spend time with.
What were your expectations before arriving in Germany?
I had never been to Germany before moving here, and I really didn’t know what to expect! I guess I thought that some of the comforts of home wouldn’t be here, like a dryer for clothes, and that places to live would be smaller. Thankfully we do have a dryer, but overall things are smaller. Like parking spaces! I’m very glad we didn’t bring a US sized truck here.
What was your first impression?
I was in awe of the small Bavarian towns and how they look like they’re straight out of a storybook! I didn’t know that so many towns are still half-timbered, with old cobblestone streets, and flowers blooming all over in spring and summer. My sister joked that where I live looks like the village from the Beauty and the Beast (which I know is set in France, but you get what I mean)! Even little towns feel historic and special here.
I love thinking about how life has changed in these towns over time, from horses and wagons to cars and trains, from open markets to modern grocery stores, and from homey gasthofs to doner stands. They’re a mix of old and new that’s really cool to see.
Also, I remember being a little surprised that they actually do eat a lot of sausages and pretzels here! It’s not just a stereotype!
These are two things that really caught my attention too, when I have been to Europe the first time. I knew that the old buildings were well preserved, but I wasn’t expecting to find whole areas and cities where little has changed and where people still care to preserve the originallity of their streets! And the sausages…Oh gosh I thought that was a myth! lol
Did you have any cultural shock? What was that?
I don’t believe I really had culture shock. Growing up I always dreamed of travelling and living abroad, so I am still grateful to have this experience. I have never been so homesick that I wanted to leave, or really that homesick at all. Although I do miss being closer to my family. I came here knowing that things would be different, and I love so much about the European lifestyle that it has been easy to accept the negatives.
But I can tell you something that bothers me to no end here…that stores aren’t open on Sundays! In the US we are so customer-service based that hours for businesses are usually really generous. Not so much here! Grocery stores, shops, and even some restaurants are closed on Sundays, and during the week most shops don’t stay open late. Grocery stores usually close at 8, and most other stores sometime before 7. Even in bigger cities in Bavaria it is like that. It’s frustrating for me as a consumer who isn’t religious, but I have learned to adapt my routines to it.
Same in Brazil, specially in big or tourist cities, we stay open for long. Sometimes in my shop, we close at 10pm on weekends or holidays, so I was very surprised to see shops closng so early in Europe.
What’s your favorite historical or cultural spot nearby?
The Flossenburg Concentration Camp. It’s less than 30 minutes from where I live, which makes it so much more real. Of course I grew up learning about the concentration camps in school, but it’s quite a different experience to visit one. The camp was used from 1938 to 1945 and was chosen due to it’s proximity to a granite quarry that prisoners were forced to work in. The treatment of prisoners and the conditions were awful. Around 30,000 prisoners died there.
The memorial does a thorough job of explaining the camp, from it’s inception to liberation, with detailed information and artifacts from life there at the time. Quite a few buildings from the camp have been preserved, which helps you envision what it might have been like during operation.
I have been several times to Flossenburg, and every time I am still amazed at what happened there. We have so much to learn from the past, and it is right to have these places preserved so that future generations know what happened.
Of course there are a lot of historical and cultural sites nearby that are more pleasant, but Flossenburg has really stuck with me since my first visit. I almost always take people who visit from the states there so they can try and understand, too.
What would you miss the most if you moved away?
If I moved from Germany I would miss the wine! I love that I can go to the grocery store and buy wonderful French and Italian wines for less than 10 euros. My husband and I are big champagne fans, and being able to buy cheaper bottles is a huge perk. I also have grown really fond of the German white wines. They’re usually very crisp and a little sweeter than most. We plan on bringing a lot back to the US whenever we move back.
If you could add anything from US in Germany, what would it be?
Target! I used to love going to Target and buying all the things I didn’t need but were so cute. My wallet is happy that I am no longer able to do that though!
You can find Kristin here:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/countdowntofriday/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.de/countdowntofriday/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/countdowntofriday/
Shibani4 de November de 2017 at 11:46
These expat stories are so inspiring as somewhere down the line I also see me living somewhere far from my home country 🙂 One thing I could relate here is the shops that close as early as 7PM, that was my first dose of reality in my first trip to Europe that I found myself almost in middle of nowhere when I wanted to even eat/shop after 7 PM which is a normal time even in India. Rest I have to agree, Europe is so so beautiful and Europeans really like to preserve their culture, architecture even after what the war did to those gorgeous little towns!!
Michaela5 de November de 2017 at 14:46
So interesting read. I love the structure of the post. The interview makes it easier for reading. I can’t agree more about the closed shops on Sundays and the cheap and good wines. It is interesting though that she didn’t have any “bigger” cultural shock. For me German culture is very specific and different. Thank you for the post. 🙂
Don5 de November de 2017 at 18:48
Germany is an awesome place in Europe! Especially driving on Autobahn.
The Challenge Book11 de November de 2017 at 11:00
Beautiful pictures and great blog 🙂
Agness of a Tuk Tuk14 de November de 2017 at 11:05
Hope you had an awesome time in Peru and Bolivia, Isa. This is an exceptional interview with Kristin. Living in Germany doesn’t seem so bad. The wine in Germany is definitely remarkable.
Isadora14 de November de 2017 at 23:14
Thank you Agness! I really did 😀 I do agree with you, Germany seems like a really nice place to live actually!