From January 2016 to September 2016 I moved my black ass from Washington D.C to Frankfurt, Germany. I accepted a bioinformatics fellowship that my coworkers pushed me to apply for and I would be working at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum. This was my first time outside the country (aside from visiting the Caribbean) and I had no idea what to expect, especially with going to a country like Germany. I had no clue how it was for black people living there, I had no context. I remember Googling “Going to Germany as a Black Person” and there were very few articles. Actually one of the articles I read explained why Germany was one of the worst places for black people! But I moved, I survived, and I conquered! I can honestly say that when the US goes to hell in a handbasket, Germany will be the first country I will move to. Germany defied all of my expectations and then some. I had such an amazing time living and exploring all that Germany had to offer I want to list the 5 Things That I Loved About Living in Germany.
The Train System: Deutsche Bahn
First thing first, the Deutsche Bahn is a technological miracle, I don’t think any other country has a better train system! Its fast, it’s inexpensive, it’s efficient, and it takes you EVERYWHERE. Here is the US, we are lucky to have in-city transportation (trains and buses), but what if you need to go to a different state or city? Usually, you can drive, fly, or take Amtrak (which is an expensive and unreliable rail system), in Germany you can go to any major or minor city using the train. They have an extensive network of trains that range from high-speed long-distance trains that connect metropolitan hubs to each other, as well as express and local regional trains that connect smaller towns and cities to larger rail hubs. It’s very easy to buy your ticket online and know exactly what time your train will arrive and depart using the long distance and regional trains. They are all run under the same system so they work together. This is how I traveled each weekend. It lovely because the trains give an update if there are delays and such and doesn’t leave you hanging wondering if your train will be coming. Also, its easy on your pockets! I was able to travel from Frankfurt to Berlin and paid $ 125 round trip! The train was about a 4 hour and 14 minutes ride! I honestly never took a plane when I traveled within Germany or the Netherlands. The chairs and seats are comfortable and spacious, there are even tables in the long distance trains. The best part is that you can eat and drink alcohol on all of the trains!
The Bread aka Carb City
Germany has the best bread and pastries. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. Bread is an enormous part of the German culture. Bread is pretty much served at every traditional German meal, and while the British have “tea-time”, Germans have “Kaffee-Kuchen”, which is essentially an afternoon coffee break where pastries, cakes, and bread are served with strong German coffee. One of the first things you notice about Germany is the endless bakery shops. It seems like there is one on every block you walk! The variety of the bakery shops are ENDLESS. Most everything is freshly made with the most natural ingredients possible. You’ll definitely need to walk it off after eating any type of cake or pastry in Germany.
We don’t have castles in America. I think when I expressed my enthusiasm to my German coworkers about seeing a castle in person they were perplexed. I know they thought I was weird for my love of peanut butter (every German I know doesn’t understand why Americans love peanut butter) and my excitement over old buildings aka castles. I guess growing up with castles in the background is a testament to your culture and history and it doesn’t seem amazing to Germans. But the only castles I have seen were in Disney movies like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. So I was HYPE! I went to a small city called Heidelberg and saw my first castle and was blown away by its beauty. To see the castle sitting up high on the hill, looking down on the Altstadt (the Old Town) you can really envision what the city was like in the in the early 1400’s. There are many beautiful castles to visit throughout Germany even the Neuschwanstein Castle which is the real-life inspiration for Walt Disney’s Castle. So if you’ve never seen a castle in-person, Germany is definitely the place to do it.
Das Bier! I mean this list would not and could not be complete without me mentioning beer. This is truly what Germany is known for. Prior to leaving the US, I never drank beer. All I knew was that Heineken’s and Coronas showed up to every BBQ I’ve gone too. But in Germany eating without a beer is unacceptable. A pint of beer is cheaper than ordering water or soda! And there are so many different types of beer to taste, from the standard Hefeweizen Bier to the light and refreshing Augustiner Brau Munchen. I drank as much beer as I could in every city, tasting their local brew. And who could forget the Biergarten, an outdoor section filled with long wooden tables for people to eat and drink with their neighbors? Nothing is better than sitting at a Biergarten drinking a Hefeweizen and eating a currywurst!
Prior to me arriving in Germany I had the perspective that everything there was concrete, gray, and boring. I’m not sure where that visual came from, but it stuck nonetheless. But the first thing that I mentioned when I landed in Frankfurt was “Everything’s so green!”, mind you this was the middle of January. Germany is an outdoor person’s paradise. Germans are proud of their environment and protect it at all cost. They are so enamored with nature that hiking and outdoor activities are huge as well has to have a garden. Most people who live in cities and don’t have the land for a home garden will buy or rent a small plot of land outside of the city and do their gardening there and use the fruits of their labors in their home cooking. The fact that the landscape of Germany is so beautiful and green is definitely one of the reasons I loved living there.
And those are the 5 Things That I Loved About Living in Germany. I can look back on my time living in Frankfurt with a lot of fondness and know that my original perception of Germany was very wrong. I will definitely recommend traveling to any part of Germany from the people to the culture and the nature you cannot go wrong.