CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
We first found out while we were on vacation. We kind of knew it was coming, but we finally got “official” word while we were traveling in Asia: “Your name was on the list. You are moving to Germany!” And so the whirlwind began.
At the time, we were stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. Leaving there meant that we had to say good-bye to a little island that we truly loved. We knew there would be many wonderful things about life in Germany, but tropical beaches and awesome scuba diving are not what Deutschland is known for.
In three years, we had made our life there. We made our concrete, earthquake-and-typhoon-proof bunker of a house into our home. We loved our friends and neighbors. We knew our way around but still loved finding new spots and exploring the wonderful island.
But when it was time to go, I let my boss know that I would be leaving my full-time job. We readied our house for the movers to come. We revisited our favorite restaurants and tearfully said good-bye to our friends.
As we boarded the rotator to leave “our” Okinawa, a rainbow formed over the East China Sea and we were on our way. Before we could move to another country, we paid a visit to our homeland. It was a busy time of seeing family, going to weddings, attending military training, and readjusting to life on that side of the world.
After five weeks in the land of our passports, it was finally time to get on the next rotator headed to Germany. Five months after finding out that we were moving from Japan to Germany, we finally set foot in Europe.
So in some ways, it’s not my first rodeo. I’ve lived on an overseas base before. I learned new customs and words in a new language so I could order at a restaurant. I’ve learned to juggle time zones to call family at an appropriate hour.
But, Germany is not Japan! I don’t need to bow when I introduce myself. We can get in our car and drive until I reach the next country. And then keep driving to the next. This time we are living off base and are excited for the opportunity.
Hopefully along the way I learn to feel at home here as I did in Okinawa. I love trying new things and now have a whole new set of things to try. At some point I’ll start saying “Ja” instead of “Hai.”
That is where Germany Ja comes in. Okinawa Hai* has been going strong for over four years. In that time it has helped thousands of Americans find their way around in Okinawa. Now we hope to do the same for Germany.
It can be the little things, like a fun restaurant to try. It can be the big things, like finding a new job. It’s an online tool to help you find your German way or show others a new path to take.
The format is also about give and take. Did you also try that restaurant? Please comment! Maybe you have an experience in Germany you want to share because you think it would be helpful for others. Please write it up for us!