I recently realized that I spend an awful lot of time blogging about the annoying or quirky things about Germans and Germany only to finish each post with, “But I really do love it here.” How whiny and terrible of me to only find things to blog about when I’m annoyed. Germany truly IS fantastic and I DO love it, and I’m finally going to take the time to tell you why.
Firstly, let’s talk about the German government. Now, I know what you may be thinking… “But the refugee crisis! You must hate it.” It is most definitely a crisis, but I don’t want to go there right now.
In September 2014, I wrote a scathing blog about Socialim in Germany. As Americans, we are taught that socialism is basically the end of civilization and freedom and all that is good with the world, and back then, I would have nothing to do with it! I know Germany is not legally classified as a socialistic country, but it does have many socialistic aspects and you know what? I’ve done a 180 and now think those aspects are pretty darn FABULOUS! In the past I moaned and groaned about the tiny tax we pay for the government-funded radio and television programs, and berated the horrible socialistic aspect of these asinine taxes. However, over the past 18 months of living here, I’ve come to realize a few different things:
- These taxes are extremely insignificant and should never occupy one’s time long enough for them to write a winded blog about it.
- At least Germans know EXACTLY what their taxes are being used for whereas Americans tend to only have a very vague idea about why Uncle Sam thinks he deserves so much of their hard-earned money each month.
- When you pay taxes in Germany, you can rest assured that they are going toward the funding of legitimate and wonderful things, such as schooling, for example:
Schooling in Germany is a bit complicated so rather than trying to explain the entire system to you, I’ll just point out the super-awesome benefits it offers. It’s not perfect, by the way, and I do have some pretty strong opinions as to why, but today’s blog is about praising Germany for what it does RIGHT and it certainly does many things right. Once you get into high school in Germany, there’s no longer such a thing as standardized teaching. Rather than all students across the board getting taught all the same things, students are able to focus their studies in a certain direction such as math and science or language arts. It’s similar to the way college students focus their studies to acquire a degree in a certain field. And let’s be honest… by the time I got into 9th grade, I already knew that I HATED science and wanted nothing to do with anything remotely science-related, so for those of you who think high school kids are too young to make these decisions, I have to disagree. Once they finish high school, they can either go to college for FREE (thank you, Socialism), or they will be placed in an apprenticeship program to learn a field of their choosing. I often hear about Americans graduating college but not being able to find a job because they have no work experience. This does not happen in Germany. The horrible, awful, no good, very bad monster that is Socialism makes sure they get fully trained in the career path of their choosing so they can more easily acquire work. What a novel idea!
The health care in Germany is also pretty fantastic. It, too, has some serious downsides. For example, I need to see an Ear Nose and Throat doctor for a severely deviated septum that I can no longer avoid getting repaired, and the earliest appointment the doc had was 7 weeks away. This is typical for standardized healthcare. When you make doctors available to people without it costing the patient an arm and a leg, people tend to actually go to the doctor rather than suffering. Several years ago my husband was in the hospital for 2 weeks because of an extreme case of pneumonia, and he was livid about having to pay a whopping 50€ for all the care he received! Sometimes Germans have no idea how good they’ve got it! A German would never EVER have to file for bankruptcy because of the crushing weight of hefty medical bills.
And speaking of being sick, let’s just talk about all those times we Americans took our precious vacation time so we could stay home sick from work. Or all those times we went to work sick as a dog because we didn’t have extra vacation time to waste on staying home sick. Not in Germany. Never. Germans get sick, go to the doctor, the doctor “writes them sick” for a certain amount of time, the patient sends the letter to his work and his insurance company, and he gets paid for being off work. No vacation time gets taken away. He just gets paid because he was too sick to work. And let’s take it a step further… have you ever had a vacation ruined because you got sick? Not in Germany. If you go on vacation and get sick, just go to the doctor. He’ll write you a sick note and you’ll get those vacation days BACK. Unbelievable, right?!?! And not to worry… Germans all get 6 weeks vacation time so if your 2 week vacation gets a little ruined from being sick, you have plenty of time throughout the year to take another one.
The last thing I’ll say about the German government is this: They take care of people. NOBODY has to be homeless in Germany. If you see a homeless person here, it’s because they chose to be homeless because they desire to be “off the grid” according to a documentary my husband once watched. The government will always find a place for you. No man gets left behind here.
Germans also do a ton to protect the environment. Sorting my trash into 4 different bins plus collecting all glass items on the side never bothered me because I knew it was a great thing for the environment. When we stayed in a hotel in the States last May and I saw trash bag after trash bag being hauled out during breakfast with almost nothing but dirty paper plates and plastic flatware, it made my stomach turn. We Americans are so uneducated about proper environment protection that we are ignorantly the worst contributors of pollution in the world. And trash sorting is just the tip of the iceberg. Germany really works hard to protect our planet.
I could honestly go on and on, but the last thing I want to touch on is the pure beauty of this country and all the rich history it offers. In southern Bavaria you have the beginning of the Alps. Go further north and enjoy rolling hills and the Donau (Americans know it as the Danube). There is castle after castle just waiting to be explored which, for me, never gets old, buildings older than the U.S., massive churches that are just creepy enough you might think you’re in a Dan Brown novel, cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, lakes with sandy beaches, monuments, thermal baths, museums, Christmas markets, carnivals, forests, and, and, and… my heart is racing! My husband’s and my most magical days are when we get in the car and just drive until we see the first brown sign which indicates a historical marker. We take our time. We explore. We dream. We live!
I hope this post conveys my genuine love for this amazing country. It’s truly a great place to live and I am unbelievably happy here. From now on, I will do my sincere best to put a lid on my frustrations, and instead take the time to blog about the many wonderful things about Germany.