Happy to have this guest post by LeAnna on Hohenfels, Germany. Please visit my Duty station guest post page for posts on other locations or more information about how you can write a guest post about where you have been stationed.
Oops, I mean, Hohenfels; the Army Post in Nowheresville, Germany where the Commissary is often out of stock of the item you need most (like Pumpkin puree during Thanksgiving!), where it’s 30 minutes to the nearest big city and where you are thousands of miles away from family, friends and the nearest comforts of wandering aimlessly in a Target.
I suppose I can see the point of view of the people that have, not so affectionately, coined USAG Hohenfels as a “Hohen-Hells”.
After all, the soldiers often work what seems like 24/7, there are the horrible rotation and exercise schedules, it has a small town community atmosphere where it feels like everyone is in everyone’s business and there are grey, dreary, rainy days that can last for months making you believe that the sun has permanently abandoned you.
Yeah, sure, this does sound like a miserable Army Post, doesn’t it??? So, who in their right mind would want to be stationed in a place like that!?
Well, me for one.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband also has horrible rotation schedules, I miss Netflix and often dream of the conveniences of American life, like 24-hour Walmarts, just as much as the other members of the community here and yet, I often feel like I don’t ever want to leave Hohenfels.
That’s because I CHOOSE to see the positives. I CHOOSE to realize how fortunate I am to be living in Europe! I love Hohenfels, for all its faults and flaws, but more importantly for the endless positives it provides and everything that it has given back to me during this very brief period in my life.
The Beauty of Hohenfels and Bavaria
Close your eyes and think of Germany. What do you see?
- Men holding beer steins the size of your head while wearing Liederhosen?
- Pretzels so big you can fit your arm through the loops?
- So many Scnitzel varieties that you could eat a new one every day and still try a new one tomorrow?
Uum, do you need to even ask that!?
- Cobblestoned streets lining the alleys of pastel painted houses so quaint and unique?
Photoshop and Filters not needed here!
No, these are not stereotypes of Germany…this is real life in beautiful Bavaria, where beer truly does run freely and fest season provides endless hours of polka music.
And not to mention the actual, physical beauty of Bavaria. Spring time is like an artists’ dream come true when the canola fields bloom against the patchwork greens of the farm fields as the hills roll in the distance.
Winter is like a picture out of a fairytale book as the soft, white snow drifts down on the castles and Christmas markets.
Summer hikes in the Alps or up a castle can leave you breathless, not because of the altitude or physical exertion but because you’ve rarely seen something so beautiful.
Sure, I never leave the apartment without an umbrella, but when you look past the clouds and when the sun does pop its head out, there is often nothing more stunningly beautiful than Bavaria.
The USAG Hohenfels Community:
What small town doesn’t have its nosy neighbors? If you’ve ever lived in a location where stop lights aren’t needed, you know that you can’t often can’t even change your shirt without the whole world knowing about it.
But honestly, it has been the small community at the Hohenfels Army Garrison that I actually really do love. For every person that complains about the Busy-Bodies, there are just as many, if not more, that say that they have made some of the best friends of their lives at this duty station. And it’s clear to see how and why.
Because there aren’t a ton of us here, that means we need to band together. On winter evenings when black ice is making it dangerous on those steep hills, countless strangers get in their American trucks and SUVs and help out anyone stranded on a snowy incline. If you are walking out of the mailroom with a box too large to handle, it’s only a matter of seconds before someone steps in to lend you a helping hand. On the all too common rainy days, it’s not uncommon to see someone stop for a random soldier or spouse walking on Post to see if they need a lift. It’s this small town feel that makes us feel like we have a tight knit community that sticks together in rain or shine (literally!)
The German and Off- Post Community:
No, not all foreigners love Americans (I know, shocker, right!?) but the German community, for the most part, is amazingly welcoming despite our loud, obnoxious talking in public, our giant SUVs and, what seems to be our inability to learn THEIR language.
The German/American Kontact Club welcomes locals, ex-pats and military alike. The schools and sports clubs on the economy almost always accepts any American child looking to learn more German and integrate more into the local culture. The local farmers market Egg Man loves teaching me a new Bayerisch word every week as I purchase his farm-fresh eggs.
Living in these small Bavarian towns sprinkled around Post is like stepping back 50 years in the US. You can leave your doors unlocked without fear of intruders. You can send your small children down to the Backerei on their own for pastries without fear of abductors. A fellow spouse put living in this idyllic setting so eloquently that I couldn’t have said it more beautifully, “I feel so safe in this little Bavarian Bubble and yet the world has never been more accessible.” Which brings me to…
I don’t think it’s a hard concept to consider that the travel opportunities living in Europe are something most people only get to dream of. Yet, many people choose to stay near the comforts of Post instead of taking advantage of all the amazing things this foreign world has to offer.
I get it, we have horribly bad work schedules here. Kids’ school breaks don’t always align with the rotation exercises. Rain forecasts dampen the mood to get out and explore. The fear of what the world is becoming keeps many people from packing their bags.
But you know what all of these are? EXCUSES! Yes, valid excuses, but excuses none the less.
This is exactly the reason why I teach people in my book, “So You Got Stationed Overseas” how to overcome those problems, take a positive outlook instead of a “woah is me” attitude, gain the confidence needed to explore a new location and learn to make every minute count of their short PCS abroad!
In the first four years of living in Germany, we were able to visit over 40 new countries, learn about cultures first hand I’d only heard or read about previously and made memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life!!!
Not getting out, not traveling while stationed abroad, as scary as it might seem at first, would be doing yourself, your family (and your photo book) a HUGE disservice!
So, is it really a “Hohen-Hell?” here? Maybe. I suppose it could be pretty miserable here if you choose to dwell on the negatives. But what city, town or military installation doesn’t have areas to improve on?
Instead, I want to see at as a “Hohen-FULLS”. Because USAG Hohenfels is actually so FULL of amazing people, full of beauty, full of adventure and travel and full of opportunities that can only come with living abroad and a unique community such as ours.
In fact, forget all the nicknames. I’ll just simply call it “Home.”
About the Author
LeAnna Brown currently doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, so to delay major life decisions, her and her husband, Andy, have decided to move to Europe and travel the world via Travel Hacking. After almost 40 countries down in four years and only a few thousand dollars spent a year on travel, they have learned to penny pinch their way to a bare minimalist lifestyle to help them see and appreciate the world. You can learn how to travel for next to nothing as well at EconomicalExcursionists.com or get your daily dose of travel tips, advice and motivation by “Liking” them on Facebook or following the EconomicalExcursionists on twitter @EconExcursion.