Me. Paris, France.
Our Visit to France and Germany
Visiting France and Germany was an amazing experience. Both countries offer an architecture rich in history and a culture that is interesting and friendly. If you want to travel like we did, simply do what we did, by using the websites that we did, in order to work on farms in exchange for room and board, and couchsurf the rest of the time.
Raegan hitchhiking in France.
Our experience hitchhiking was good, except for the two times where we did not get a ride and decided to take a train. The nice thing about visiting Europe is that when you return home, you still take it with you. It broadens your perspective and shows you that the opportunities are almost endless, of what can be accomplished when you make a plan and take action.
What I Learned from traveling in France and Germany
You might assume that people are the same everywhere and, partly, this is true. People do have the same needs–the need to be loved, the need to have something to do, the need for shelter, the need for significance. The interesting thing, however, is to see how people satisfy these needs in different ways.
We got a ride with this French guy and his son. They even took us to get a coffee at a gas station convenience store on the way. Cool, friendly people.
Traveling gives you an up close look at how people satisfy the same basic wants and needs in different ways.
While traveling, I felt like a cultural anthropologist, especially when I put pen to paper, almost every evening, to chronicle the day’s events.
The French live differently than Americans. They take 2 hour lunch breaks. An hour for lunch, an hour afterward for a nap, or just to relax to let the food settle. The food they eat has high quality ingredients, which makes it taste better. The French value relationships and good food. Some of the kitchens we cooked in and the dining rooms that we ate in were kind of messy. Often, the dishes were mismatched. That was not an issue however, because the conversation was interesting, the meals were delicious, and the experience, therefore, was memorable.
Strawberry Creme Fresh. Delicious.
At the first farm we stayed, the TV would be on during lunch, so the farmer could get updates about the weather. Besides that, however, the TV was rarely on. At one point, Raegan and I were babysitting Yannik and Marie’s children, so we watched “Diehard 3” with Bruce Willis and that guy in the Mac commercials, speak in French, so we could try to learn French. The movie was so un-entertaining and the dialogue was mainly one word commands, like “Go!” and “Get out, now!” We didn’t learn much French watching this movie.
The Germans, although they do not take 2 hour lunch breaks, seem to value relationships, too. They are industrious and hard working. Most of the Germans we met spoke multiple languages–German, English, and some French. The Germans that we stayed with do not watch TV. I don’t think they had the TV on once while we were there.
In the vineyard. Traben-Trarbach, Germany. With our WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) host.
Are Europeans really different?
Granted, perhaps the reason why we encountered such behavior among French and Germans may be due to the fact that they were either WWOOF hosts or Couchsurfing hosts. Being in either category might mean that they share the same ideas about life. Compared to Americans who I’ve met, however, I find both the French and Germans a lot nicer, a lot more respectful, and a lot more generous. If you have yet to travel to France or Germany, I encourage you to go. You’re likely to come back with raised standards for yourself and for others.
Traveling changes you.
Traveling, especially to another country, will change you because once you travel to another country, you’ll look at things with a broader perspective. Traveling is an education that can bring about opportunities that are both unforseen, unexpected, and wonderful.
It’s possible to travel for months and probably even years if you travel the way that we did–wwoofing and couchsurfing.
Set a date and go.
Raegan, cranking the wheel, crushing organic apples, making fresh apple cider.
Instead of saying someday you will travel, set an actual date that you will leave. Then, between today and that day, plan your itinerary (schedule of where you will
stay and how you will get from one place to the next).
Rolling hay bales. Sternhagen, Germany.
If you are scared, then plan your trip so well that you have back up plans, and backup plans for back up plans.
Then, when the day comes, go.
Is it really possible to travel Europe like we did?
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Raegan, chopping wood. Sternhagen, Germany.