7 things that surprise me about living on a military base (in Europe)

1. Flying out of Maine, landing in Munich, then driving onto an American army base created an eerie sense of culture shock. The base is a tiny piece of America in the middle of Germany, with fast food restaurants like Popeye’s, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Southern accents, and the National Anthem playing before every movie on post. American flags.

2. The Army Spouse Facebook groups are active and people will answer all your random questions. Be prepared for many opposing opinions though. They are as helpful as they are dramatic.

3. People leave all the time. Neighbors, friends; you’ll spot a large moving truck on post on any given day. Because of this, people sell their stuff constantly! If you were to move here with only a suitcase (like myself), you can furnish your entire home pretty quickly and cheaply by buying other people’s stuff.

4. Buying goods on post, you use dollars. Anywhere off post, euros.

5. Pretty much everyone has a dog. In my core group of friends, 4 out of 5 of us had no pets when we arrived. Can you guess how many of us have dogs now?

6. German beer is delicious and beats American beer in every single way.

7. Travel is definitely easier while living in Europe, but it’s still easy to get stuck in a routine and rarely leave base.

The summer months are slipping by, bringing the understanding that we’ll pack up again soon, heading to a new beginning. The knowledge of leaving never fails to make me see the past with rose-colored glasses. Memories of road tripping to Croatia, setting up our home on-base, celebrating a friend’s birthday with The Office themed party. The truth of our life the past year in Germany is that it was reality. A lot of days were uneventful, but with the added pressure of living life to the fullest in Europe. Moments of real life; cleaning a messy kitchen, taking the dog to the vet, and answering the perpetual question, “What are we having for dinner?”

I’ll keep those tinted glasses and the real, unexciting moments, with the appreciation that we spent our first year of marriage in beautiful Germany, within a tiny piece of the U.S.A.

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