U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt, which is located in the state of Bavaria, Germany, will eventually close. But that hasn't stopped Emma -- the Army wife and blogger behind It Happened on a Sunday -- from exploring the town Schweinfurt, frequenting wine fests in the region and taking tours around the country. Lucky for us, Emma is willing to give us a glimpse into what life has been like so far in the state she describes as "absolutely beautiful."
|Emma stands amid the picturesque farmlands in Bavaria.|
Q: Tell us about yourself, your husband and your blog.
A: Hello! My name is Emma. I'm a 20 something married to my college sweetheart. We've known each other since middle school, but didn't start dating until our freshman year of college. We are huge sports fans and driving to and attending an Atlanta Braves game together was actually the catalyst to our relationship. I blog to chronicle our lives for family and friends while we are in Germany. It's been a great adventure so far and I'm so glad I have these memories written down to look back on one day. The title of my blog, "It Happened on a Sunday," comes from the simple fact that we started dating on a Sunday, we got engaged on a Sunday, and we got married on a Sunday. When I made this realization the lyrics to Tyler Hilton's "You, My Love" fit our relationship perfectly!
Q: When did you move to Germany and what part do you live?
A: We moved to Germany in May 2012. So we are still very new to the country! For the time being we are living in the town of Schweinfurt. I say for the time being because our post is actually scheduled to close. Schweinfurt is in the state of Bavaria and is located approximately two hours east of Frankfurt. Our post is one of the smaller U.S. Army Garrisons located in Germany (and with the impending closure it's gotten even smaller), but I have so enjoyed being a part of this close, tight-knit community. In typical Army fashion we don't know where they'll be sending us next, but once my husband returns from his deployment we will have a better idea. Rumors are we will still be somewhere in Europe!
Q: What are three things you love about living in Germany?
1) The state of Bavaria. It is absolutely beautiful and during this time of the year SO green. Bavaria is the largest state by area in Germany. The Bavarian Alps define the border to the south and the north is filled with beautiful farmlands. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and unlike anything I've seen. There are also some great cities in Bavaria: Munich (Oktoberfest!) Nuremberg (Christmas markets), and Wurzburg (Fortress Marienburg).
2) The German people and their love of food and drink. First of all, the Germans look for any excuse to have a party. There is always some sort of "fest" going on. Since we are located in the Franconian wine region I've been to my fair share of wine fests. They are always in charming little towns along the Main river and a great time! Before my husband deployed we were able to enjoy the another type of fest, the Volksfest, which is basically like a wine/beer fest combined with a carnival. I don't know about the rides, but the food is out of this world. Who wouldn't want a pretzel the size of their head and a delicious festbeir to wash it down?
3) Traveling in Europe! This deployment has put traveling on hold for us as a couple, but I've still had the amazing opportunity to take weekend trips exploring Germany and some neighboring countries. And to me that's the crazy part: a WEEKEND trip to a DIFFERENT county! We are so centrally located here in Germany and the public transportation is fantastic. Those two factors make it so easy to travel.
Q: Anything you don’t like or is difficult about living there?
A: The obvious things like being away from family and friends. The language barrier can be difficult at times as well. The convenience factor is also a big one for me. By 8 o'clock (if not earlier) everything is closed down. There are no 24-hour Walmarts you can run into because you forgot to pick something up. You're just tough out of luck. Additionally there are not many "one stop shops" like Target, Walmart, etc. where you can find housewares, clothes, and groceries. One easy trip back home turns into three or maybe four trips here in Germany. Lastly, the time difference is awful for sporting events. This has made it really hard to follow baseball and created some very late nights in order to watch college football. It may sound like I'm complaining a lot, but I promise you -- I'll suck it up for the amazing opportunity to be living in Europe!
|Emma and her husband at the Zugspitze, one of their 'must sees' in Garmisch.|
Q: I can tell from your blog that you love to travel and have been on several trips since moving to Germany. Do you usually take tours or grab a guidebook and explore on your own?
A: When my husband and I travel we generally have a couple MUST SEE places. We usually try to hit those early in the trip and then use the remaining time to explore. It's wonderful seeing historical things, but wandering around and really getting a feel for the city is my favorite part of traveling. I think a lot of times the touristy areas can misrepresent a city.
I enjoy both going on tours AND exploring a city on our own. Tours are a great way to do a little recon on a city and find areas you are interested in exploring. As long as they are reasonably priced I would definitely recommend tours if you are hesitant to start out on your own.
Q: Your husband is currently deployed. One of the ways you have kept busy is by working out with CrossFit. For those interested, tell us what CrossFit is and where near you live can one participate?
CrossFit is such a multi-faceted experience where you gain so much it can often be hard to describe. This video does a great job.
According to people in the video, "CrossFit is a lifestyle in which you are prioritizing your health... it's this team atmosphere that makes you better as an individual... CrossFit is a sport... I like the challenge. I compete with myself... I love it because the workouts different everyday... CrossFit is a fitness program where the reward for doing well is the ability to express your fitness is everyday life."
The military community and CrossFit go hand in hand. After all, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program used by many military special op units and police academies. (But don't let that scare you. The beautiful thing is that everything in CrossFit is scalable!) If you are in the States there is probably CrossFit near your military installation. There have been jokes that there are soon going to be more CrossFit gyms than Starbucks. So look around! If you are in Europe there may be CrossFit gyms "on the economy" in your country, but with the language barrier it may be a little difficult. I would recommend looking around your gym on post/base. I am sure you will see someone there doing workouts like the one in the video. There is a great CrossFit community on our post and hopefully there is one on yours!
Q: Do you live on base or off? Why did you choose to live in that area? And what is it like living in that type of housing?
A: Due to my husband’s rank we were required to live off post in private rentals (i.e. we have German landlords and German neighbors). We have a very sweet landlord and our neighbors are very quiet and polite. If you have the choice I would definitely recommend living "on the economy". There are actually a couple different options at our Army post: 1) you can live on post; 2) you can live on the economy in private rentals like we are; or 3) you can live on the economy in government rentals, which are Army-owned apartments. All three are great options as long as you remember to get out and explore your host nation! I think it could be easy to stay on post and stay in "Little America", but remember that living in a foreign country is an experience you might never have again!
Q: Can you get U.S. television shows there?
A: Yes, through the Armed Forces Network (AFN) you are able to watch American television shows. I will be completely honest and tell you that I have not gotten AFN yet. Streaming all of my TV shows online and connecting my laptop to our TV with an HDMI cable has allowed me to watch pretty much everything I did back in the states. Just remember that some countries may have different laws regarding illegal downloading. Germany is one of those where getting caught can result in a pretty fine! So make sure you are streaming and not downloading. Better safe than sorry!
(For more of Emma's tips watching U.S. television shows in Germany, click here.)
Q: Do you work? If so, is it easy or hard to get jobs in Germany?
A: Yes I work part-time at the bank on post. I was fortunate enough to find a job within the first month of moving here. It can be very difficult to find a job in Germany due to the fact that the SOFA agreement (the agreement that allows us to live in Europe based on certain conditions) says that you can only work on post. So as you can see that narrows down the job market A LOT.
|Emma and her husband on the way to the airport during their move to Germany. |
Goodbye U.S.A., hello Germany!
Q: Can you name some websites that will be helpful for military families about to move to the area?
A: I don't necessarily know that there is a specific website I would recommend other than your future military installation's website. (You can view the website for USAG Schweinfurt by clicking here). Before we moved here I enjoyed looking through the community-events page and seeing how involved the community was.
I would definitely recommend connecting in any way that you can, whether that be bloggers living in Europe or getting in touch with a military sponsor. Talking to these people can be a great source of information, possibly calm your fears, and provide you with realistic expectations of what's to come. Before we arrived in Germany I may or may not have bugged Casey at We Took the Road Less Traveled with a ton of questions. She was so gracious and helpful and I am sure there are many more bloggers out there like her!
* Do you want to know what it’s like living at a particular duty station? Need tips on how to prepare for a move? Or advice on how to handle a deployment? Tune in each Monday for tips and stories aimed at helping your next move or deployment go more smoothly. If you have questions, tips or stories you would like to share, send a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.