Re: Why not move to the US? Re: More Green Party

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Mon Jul 03 2000 - 14:52:27 MDT

>From:, Fri, 30 Jun 2000

>> (Brian Atkins) wrote:
>> I am playing devil's advocate here... why aren't all you non-US folk
>> moving here?

>I wonder what Amara will make of this.

I don't know where to begin. I have written many pages of notes of
my observations of (my) German life compared to (my) U.S. life. And
I've just sampled one particular small region in Germany that may
not be typical for Germany.

There are things that I miss about the U.S. every day. There are
things about Germany that I will dearly miss whenever I move away
from here.

>Most interesting people? I haven't heard that before.

Nor I.

>Possible reasons for not moving:

My advisor is the best in the world in his field. And he's in

>Preferring to live in dense pedestrian-oriented cities,

Actually I live in a tiny village in the middle of a thick forest
(Odenwald). It's country life.

>Not wishing to partake in a culture dependent upon cars

This particular culture (German) _is_ in love with their cars.

Probably if I had the money (not possible on my PhD stipend), I
_would_ own a car because I like very much the independence. And I
owned and drove a car for 20 years before my move, so it's still a
bit strange for me not having one.

However, trains, buses, my bike, and hitchhiking do pretty well to
get me around, and in surprisingly good ways. I can't imagine doing
what I'm doing now, car-less, living in the States.

>Dependency on a culture with a much higher baseline concern for the
>quality of food.

Yes, no question.

The people here give a lot of attention to their food. Very high
quality. Very delicious.

I was thinking along these lines to answer Natasha last weekend for
better more healthy food/nutrition for life extension.

If you want to try an experiment for eating more healthily, then put
aside your car and your supermarket for a while. Then everything you
put in your backpack or bicycle pack is something that you _really_
want and have given some thought to.

A common Saturday shopping where I live, in order to buy food for
the next week (before the stores close for the rest of the weekend
at about 2pm) is to go to the bakery, the fruit/vegetable market,
the butcher, and a small market that will have milk, cheese, other
food products. Each has high quality food. You make at least several
stops on your bicycle, filling up your packs. About 30% of the
people in the town do what I do with their bikes, with the others in
their cars. And yes, there are two small supermarkets in town, that
do have customers (younger folks and families), but I seem to have
fallen into the older style of way of living.

When I first moved here, and observed this food-buying tradition, I
thought, "gad, how inefficient!". But the quality is great, and I
don't mind the inefficiency now.

>A feeling that
>Europeans are better educated and more interesting,

Yes. With no offense meant to the Americans, but most of the
non-Americans, whom I've become good friends with during the last
years, are more roundly-educated: they know a great deal about art,
literature, history, music, other humanities and I really enjoy
talking to them. I'm a "generalist", myself, and like (and need) to
be challenged in a range of different areas.

>or that it's easier to
>find those who are, in coffeehouses and such.

Ahh.. please indulge me while I give a discourse on the outside
cafes. It's summertime, after all, and the outside cafes are full.

There is a Van Gogh painting about a cafe at night, called
appropriately: "Night Cafe", that paints the mood of many of the
European cities' old towns that I've seen, and Heidelberg in
particular. In the painting, the tables are empty, but it shows a
deep blue sky with a cobblestone street, some stars. It's a charming

Now adding to the rest of the elements of the scene: the tables
outside are full of people of all ages, drinking and eating and
talking to each other. The sounds were friendly -- low tones from
hundreds of people talking and laughing (and singing.. some street
performers are performing in old town too). The castle that
overlooks the old town is lit at night with soft yellow lights, and
the old castle stone looks like it is glowing. Other blue and green
and red lights from the businesses are reflected on the water of the
Neckar river. All visible from sitting at the cafe tables.

It's very special to be in that environment: thoroughly enjoying the
company of your friends, history all around, beautiful scenery, very
friendly mood. I think you have to experience it, to understand it.

Now I will add a little more to your list, of nice things here.

Nature and Nature walks (of the Odenwald region).

Towns and forests sort of blend together. In other words, if I'm
travelling through the forest near the edge of a village, there is
not a sharp cut-off. First, the road is better groomed/paved, then I
will see a house here and there, then more of them, and then I find
myself in a village. Trails and tiny roads exist all through the
area, sometimes marked, sometimes not marked. But it's difficult to
get lost because if you look to the distance and know what direction
to go, then eventually you'll hit a trail. And another. And another.

"Spaziergang" is the German word for "pleasure walk", although that
is probably not a good translation. This kind of walk, by many
people of all ages where I live, is when one goes outside with one's
friends, or one's companion or one's dog, or by yourself with your
walking stick, and you enjoy walking, and the company of the those
with you and the company of the outdoor scenes. I've seen very old
people, I've seen little kids doing this. On Sunday, when everything
is closed except for the restaurants, one sees even more of this
activity. I've never lived in a society before where there was so
much pleasure from this simple activity.

One more thing that I appreciate is that most of these people have
real lives that don't revolve around their jobs. Their personal life
always takes precedence, and they take great care to have their
non-working life have a high quality. I really appreciate that
care. That attitude is definitely different than the Silicon Valley.

Ok, I've probably rambled, so stopping here.


Amara Graps email:
Computational Physics vita: finger
Multiplex Answers URL:
"Sometimes I think I understand everything. Then I regain
consciousness." --Ashleigh Brilliant

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