Finding My German Way: Part 1



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!

8 thoughts on “Finding My German Way: Part 1

  1. Diane Isla says:

    I have been in Germany (K-town) for 3 years with one more to go!! This is our second time living in Deutschland…but I also came here this time hot off the tail end of my love affair with Oki! We left Oki in 2009 and I even have an Okinawa Hai page still 🙂 If I can be of any service to the incoming, I wouldn’t mind sharing my knowledge.


  2. Emily says:

    Loved Okinawa Hai when I lived there and am looking forward to Germany Hai now! Joelle is a friend from Oki and told me about the site. I would love to share what I can as well, as we are here for years to come…


  3. Ginny says:

    I am SOOO happy about this. I LOVED Okinawa hai. I probably looked at it everyday we were there!! Okinawa was home for my kids. We all did not wanna leave that amazing Island. Going from Oki to come to Germany in January was crazy, but Germany is growing on us a little. Hopefully this site will help us find more things to do family wise and tons of good places to eat. Can’t wait to see what all comes with this site. Pretty excited! Thanks.


  4. Angie says:

    I am so excited about this! I loved it while we were in Oki 2 years ago, and we’re heading to Germany in 4 months! This is so great! I can’t wait to get there, and use this site!


  5. Joelle says:

    I’m so excited that you are all excited! As soon as we found out that Sarah would be leaving Oki to go to Germany we BEGGED her to help us try this new idea. Just kidding — didn’t take a lot of begging — she was happy to start up the same kind of community we have in Oki. BUT she was nervous about finding writers — so I’m THRILLED you’ve all volunteered. LOL. 🙂


  6. Nicole says:

    My family of 6 is in the process of leaving the beautiful island of Okinawa and PCSing to Wiesbaden, Germany. Okinawa Hai has been such a huge help over the last three years, I look forward to Germany Ja! Thank you for these great sites!


  7. Sarah says:

    Nicole, we are so glad that we can help you! Good luck with your PCS! Germany and Okinawa are totally different from each other in many ways, but we have enjoyed both of them immensely. Check out our Q&A group on facebook and let us know if there is any way we can help or questions we can answer!


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