Families overseas can maximize enjoyment of Europe

Lt. Col. David Hall
415th Base Support Battalion commander

***image1***Good advice deserves to be repeated.
With this in mind, I’d like to share with you some words of wisdom from the most important woman in my life – my wife, Beth Anne.
Think back to your first week of living in another country.
Now, think about how “worldly” you have become.
Isn’t it funny, how, even after just six months, you can become an “expert” to those poor folks just stepping off the airplane
Germany is my family’s second overseas assignment.
For what it’s worth, here is a list of my favorite pieces of advice:

1. Travel now, travel often.
As part of the military family, we all know that change can happen at any moment.
What is supposed to be a long assignment can change overnight. Don’t wait, travel now.

2. Buy along the way.
Having been stationed in Turkey, I witnessed some of the most incredible shopping sprees of all time.
Of course, in Turkey, a dollar makes you a millionaire (with the Turkish Lira exchange rate); but the sprees I’m talking about are the “oh-my-gosh-we-are-moving-in-a-month-and-I-forgot-to-buy-a-dozen-carpets-and-this-six-pounds-of-gold-jewelry.”
Don’t wait to stock up on the unique items you’ve fallen in love with. Remember #1 — buy while the buying is good.

3. Learn a little of the language.
Here are the four essentials: “please,” “thank you,” “hello” and “goodbye.” A few more recommended phrases: “pardon me,” “where is the bathroom” and “how much does this cost.” If you have an ear for language, the more you know, the better.

4. Experience the culture.
Shop where the locals shop, eat at the local restaurants, enjoy the fabulous bread, meet your German neighbors and ask questions.

5. Invite your German neighbors or landlords over for an “American” dinner.
With luck, they will return the favor, and you will broaden your experiences.

6. Become a culinary “expert” on one German specialty.
By choosing one popular dish, you can always fall back on your “specialty” when you can’t decipher anything else on the menu.

7. Learn to prepare one meal typical of the region where you live.
Just imagine how nice it will sound to be able to say, “This is a traditional meal from the region in Germany where we spent three years.”
There are so many items to add to this list – take a guided tour using one of the many tour services available to us; take advantage of discount airlines rates, flying out of Frankfurt, Hahn or Saarbrücken; tour the regional battlefields, cemeteries and memorials honoring those that have served; take a drive in this beautiful country and witness why you are so lucky to be stationed here.