Am American In Europe - What It Means

Often I am asked, 'Why don't you just leave your husband and move back to the States?'

Well, although I could try that avenue (although legally it would be tricky since we have a little girl and the Hague Convention prohibits removing children from one country to another without the approval of both parents), I actually do not want to.

For my fellow Americans who have never worked over here, I will start with what it means to an American, regardless of family status.

First, when you work here in Germany, you get 5 to 6 weeks of vacation per year.  Can you imagine what that means for your own personal development, private life and freedom?  Even if you do not have children, you can use that time to visit family back home in the States, or travel to wherever you like, or just use that time to do something for yourself, education-wise, or intensely focus on your hobbies, and so forth.  Because I do have a child, it means that I can take lots of time to do memorable things with her.  Second, I perceive here, unlike in the States, very little pressure to become this career power-woman, or to make it into management.  Working society here in Germany is quite happy for you to become a subject matter expert instead, which is wonderful because career-wise, I would like to do something a little unconventional with my career and become knowledgeable about international tax.
And third, if you lose your job here, you do not lose your healthcare coverage. 
I remember my 15 years of working in the United States, at a Fortune 500 company, and do not care to be back in that environment.  I learned a lot, but in general corporate America is a much better environment for kids just out of the university who have no outside life and no responsibilities, or for older single people who do not mind working 10 to 12 hour workdays.

Now I move on to the factors that make this country better for raising children than the United States.  First, the school system. Bavaria has the best public school system in all of Germany, and the German school system is superior to America's in general (not making this up, check out the stats).  As a parent, I will never have to fret whether my daughter is learning what she should learn or whether there are gangs and drugs in her schools, and try to make enough money to send her to private schools, as I probably would in the U.S.  (I also think the superiority of the German school system here is related to Germany's very strong apprenticeship programs, whereby teenagers work and study during the same time period, but this is another topic to delve into).  Second, there are so many parks, programs, and workshops for children here that my daughter would never want for enrichment.  Third, by growing up here, she will become fully and fluently bilingual, with no accent in either language.

So do I want to leave my husband?  Not really or at least not badly enough to deal with the chaos separation and divorce would bring.  Do I want to move back to the States, if I were in fact to leave him?  Definitely not.
EinEngel EinEngel 46-50, F 7 Responses Nov 23, 2012

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As a fellow American in Europe, I agree. I don't want start a huge political discussion, but I often feel ill reading the dumb *** comments on FB regarding politics and health care. One person even said, "What? you want me to pay for the healthcare of your kid?" I was just thinking, yeah...I do, and I pay for yours...but anyway, the peace of mind of having more things organized definitely takes a low lying stress of your life.

Regarding education, I suppose that depends where you live in the states...which of course is the inherent problem...Sadly, as both my children are fabulous athletes, I wish there were more organized sports with school. I did sports and loved it, and that won't be happening here....and I will miss that, but I see it as small price to pay for what they get back in return.

And would venture to say, once you add in U.S. healthcare costs to taxes, don't know that our takes are that much more....but never, never, ever see a bill from a doctor, or the hospital, pharmacist, you name it, it's very good.

Yes, many Americans have a long way to go before realizing certain primitive policies that currently exist only harm our country in the long term. Other than my family I miss two things in the States - having so much space!! and the friendliness of the people (Germans are okay, but it is hard to fit in here).

I should also mention that this setup is not for free. You will only see 50 percent of your paycheck gross, but the peace of mind here is worth it.

I live in the states and once all types of taxes are removed from my paycheck net is less than 50%. I then pay my own health and dental insurance out of net. We here in the USA pay the same level of taxes but receive considerably fewer local benefits. This is a result of choices to support corporate tax write downs and our military industrial complex over social enhancements. I've made my career in the MIC and even at <50 net I've always lived quite well.

In my humble opinion, the U.S. is not only pretty good for young people with no children, but also older people who have enough money for a pleasant retirement, and wealthy business owners who can dictate their own hours and lifestyle. But if you are middle class, or work for a company to put food on the table, forget it. You are squeezed, financially and time-wise. It is the kids of this last group who sacrifice the most. I hate that.

I may have an opportunity to go study in Europe next year, and i am getting very excited reading what you write... I'm applying, just have to be accepted :)

Come on over across the pond Sister. Your quality of life will probably be better and also your childrens', I have no doubt.

Might it be in your interests then, to become a German citizen. It might involve you gaining rights and entitlements that you presently do not have. (Of course it might make **** all difference too, but it is worth checking out don't you think)

Tread your own path.

Hmmm, not sure I can become a German citizen without abdicating my U.S. citizenship. There might be inheritance and tax implications on my U.S. side if I were to do that.

Indeed there might be. Hence the suggestion to check it out. Often (usually even) choices are not between "good" or "bad" but are rather "least worst" options.

If the Germans dont require you to abdicate US citizenship, then I dont think it would be a problem. I have dual Jamaican, Canadian citizenship and neither country requires abdication. Then again, theyre both commonwealth countries.

So I checked....I cannot become a German citizen without losing my U.S. citizenship.

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Pretty much the same reason I raised my children here in Canada than move back to Jamaica where the wife and I are from. Its a great place to visit as a tourist, but the government funded educational system is in a shambles and a state of confusion. To make it worse, the (******* idiot of a) Prime Minister of the time, Micheal Manly, decided that a teacher shouldnt need a bachlers degree to teach and that a diploma or certificate is good enough. A VERY bad decission that Jamaica is paying dearly for down to this day.

Ontario on the other hand has a very well funded edutional system with highly qualified and motivated teachers. The curriculum is highly practical in preparing its students for the working world or for college/university.

As a fellow Ontarian, I second everything you state here.

I could NEVER live in the states, such as it is. I would go broke trying to help others get health coverage. How can you live while your neighbours die from lack of health care?

Yes, it is awful. And if you lose your job.....well, hope you do not get sick, or worse, that your kids do not get sick. Allegedly Obama's plan will totally kick in at the end of next year. Will be interested to see if there is a difference.

A certain man who was highly experienced in the use of propaganda, wrote a book in which he went into exquisite detail in the most effective use of propaganda. He taught that propaganda must appeal to the emotions and not the intellect. And it must be aimed at the lowest common denominator. In this way, you can cause the average person to emotionally vote against his own best interest. To quote this man directly: "I use emotion for the many, and reserve the intelectual for the few". This man also believed that life is a constant struggle and that those who are not willing or able to fight have no business being alive. Its obvious the me that the Koch brothers who fund the tea party and those who lead are ernest pupils of this man.

Who is this man and what is the name of his book?
Author: Adolf Hitler
Book: Mein Kampf

And yes..Ive read it.

Having lived in Europe i agree 100%..but there were also other advantages to being there. . In Europe, I felt that this tie to the TV was minimal. The topic of the day, was not the TV program the night before. There was a broader range of music that was available. . Children were exposed to more kinds of music, not just rock. The local park would have a concert. And that was in the small towns, not just in a major city..There was the advantage of easily travelling to other countries and being exposed to their cilture. The other main difference in Europe is the eduacational sytem being based on educating, and not the sports/athletic program.

So i understand your being determined to remain there.

Yes, I like that about the German schools too. If my daughter wants to play sports, she can join a sport club and go there after school. Schools are there for educating, and certainly that focus eliminates throwing resources at non-academic activity.