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10 March 2015

One Year in Germany

     One of the reasons that I joined the military when I was 18 years old was to travel the world. There are military bases ALL over the world, even in places that we wouldn't think they existed! Since I joined the Army in 2010, I have been to South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, Kyrgistan, Kuwait, and Afghanistan... and that was just before I turned 21! That is more then most people that I knew at the time. One of the places that I had always wanted to visit, thanks to multitudes of history classes, was Germany.

     On 23 November of 2013, I had just returned from a month long training exercise in the middle of nowhere, Louisiana. I worked as the Operations Clerk as well as an Air Traffic Control Specialist for my unit, and upon my return my First Sergeant pulled me into the conference room to ask me if I knew that I had received orders to a new unit. I looked at him like he had food on his face or something "I'm going where?!?!?!?!" Come to find out, while I was away in the land of no communication, the Army decided to send me to a foreign country. Thankfully it was Germany and not South Korea (which is very common in my MOS... but that is not a place that I had ever had any interest in going due to the restrictions and how much people get in trouble while there). I wasn't quite sure how I felt about this... on one hand, I'd always wanted to visit Germany, but on the other hand, I was going thousands of miles away from everyone I knew, to a place where the people aren't fond of American Soldiers.

My first week in Gemany

     So a year ago yesterday, I said good-bye to a hand full of my friends at a tiny airport in Fayetteville, North Carolina and boarded an airplane for a 9+ hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. I was lucky and it turned out that a person in my old unit happened to be my sponsor for the unit I was going too, so I wasn't completely alone. I talked with him for a couple of weeks before I left to learn what I could about my new unit and Germany. I showed up at the airport 10 March and was completely lost. Luckily, there were people there who helped show me how to find the USO at Frankfurt, which made me feel a little better. I found my way there and eventually someone from my unit was there to pick me up. It was a 3.5 hour drive from Frankfurt to where I was now stationed.

My first friends in Germany 

    It's been a learning experience since I arrived here. Just on the drive to my new home base I learned the German word for Exit (Ausfahrt) for the highway (called the Autobahn). There were a lot of fields and green, they use a lot of windmills and solar panels! I showed up to this tiny little base that reminded me a lot of the training base I was at the past November and this was the place that I was going to live for the next two years of my life. Living in another country is quite intimidating. German's don't really like American Soldiers because most of the ones that are here are infantry and are very self-entitled... like, I'm American and I am better then you.... and it just makes things more difficult then they really need to be. Also, lucky for me, two different families I knew from Bragg happened to live 2.5 hours away from my new home so I wasn't completely alone. I didn't really make friends where I live, other then one couple that lives there, everyone else is more of an acquaintance. The interesting thing about the military is that they force people of different lifestyles and walks of life together and you form unlikely friendships that you never would have formed otherwise.

     A month after I got here, I had already been taken to Nuremberg on an Host Nation Orientation trip and I was on my first train ride to see some dear friends in Stuttgart. It was amazing to see familiar faces, who knew me, who welcomed me into their home, and it was like I was home! The next weekend, we went to see the second family I knew, and it's been a roller coaster of ups and downs since I have been here.

     I've learned a little bit of German (I am trying my best to learn the language, but it's difficult with everything that I have going on and my brain doesn't pick up foreign languages very quickly. I have a basic vocabulary, enough to order some food, ask if they speak English, and get around a little bit. I've visited various places (see my travel label to see about some of my trips), and met some cool people (mostly in Stuttgart...which became my actual home in Germany with Mo and Momma B and her family). I've been to several German festivals, Christmas Markets, tried lots of German beer and wine, and taken some cool pictures. I've shopped on the German economy where everything is fresh and home grown and also on military bases, which is more familiar, but frozen before it's shipped here. I've started cooking with Mo more, and making plans for the future.

     I can't believe that a year has already passed by. It's like one minute I was in Fayetteville hanging out with my bestie Sarah and I blinked and I had already been here a year. Sarah and I actually discussed that when we spoke on FaceTime this past Saturday. My life has changed quite a bit in this past year.



   I am curious to see where I am at in another year. I'll be getting ready to leave Germany this time next year, getting ready to follow Mo to Hawaii, getting out of the Army, becoming a civilian, and focusing on my crafting, my schooling, and my photography.

My how time flies