THINGS THAT DO NOT SUCK ABOUT THE US
As a half-German, half-American person, these are my observations, exclusive to my own experience, of course, because I'm sure anyone who has a similar story of moving from Germany to the US has his/her own tale to tell! I moved to the States when I was nine, so I still remember quite a bit about the German experience, but also, I left in 1996, so.
- •The American education system, while deeply flawed, has a tighter rein on thingsAs a kid in Berlin, I was bullied/ostracized constantly, just about every day. In my American elementary school, I was shocked to see signs like "No put-downs" and that kids were encouraged to be inclusive while playing and treat each other well. Kids thought it was interesting that I was German; in Berlin, they didn't always like that I was American. Also, in Germany, I could basically roam the halls whenever I wanted. There was a lot more supervision and nurturing one-on-one time here.
- •You don't have to wait months to see your favorite showI'm sure this is basically a non-issue now with streaming and the Internet, but back in the day, Germany was at least a couple of months behind in airing dubbed American programs. When I finally saw The X-Files in the States and heard Mulder and Scully speak English and realized that their words matched the movement of their lips, I was AMAZED. The efforts of voice actors can sometimes come across as super cheesy, so hearing the real thing was a totally authentic, new experience.
- •Having a yard and your own room is kind of niceI grew up in Kreuzberg, which is known as the artsy hipster district of Berlin, and loved it. But we lived in a small apartment and shared a bedroom, so there was little privacy. When I wanted to go outside to play, we couldn't always walk to the relatively nearby park, especially when my mom was busy caring for my brother, so I had to play in the concrete courtyard or the dirt parking lot. My opa did build us a huge sandbox, though! And I could ride my go-kart without being in the street.
- •It's cheaper to live in the suburbs than the cityThe nice houses on the outskirts of Berlin have always been owned by the upper middle/upper class, whereas the houses in the suburbs of Indianapolis -- especially those built in the 50s -- were meant for new families looking for affordable housing and more space outside the city. I'm a city girl at heart and always will be, but it's nice to see more trees and wildlife and breathe the fresh air in suburban/rural areas and be able to afford it. Apartments in the heart of Indianapolis aren't cheap.
- •Air conditioning and heatingThere is so much history in Berlin that, as a native, you tend to take it for granted. My family and I lament that we didn't take more pictures of historic landmarks when we lived there, but for us it was only normal. In the same vein, the building we lived in was built in the 1800s. Central air -- even window air conditioning units -- were not a thing. The summers were unbearably hot, and the winters freezing. Coal stoves provided us heat, but the windows would still frost over on cold nights.
- •Like @tinsi mentioned, people smile more and are quick with a friendly greeting, especially in the MidwestThis was a bit overwhelming for my mom, who's 100% German (and other Germans, as I heard Walmart greeters didn't go over well there). It was weird for me at first, but being half-American, I adapted fast. It's true that sometimes people will ask how you are without wanting to hear about it or put on a fake smile, but for the most part, people are open and interested. For my dad, a Midwesterner, it was always customary to smile or nod at strangers. In Berlin, he got strange looks in return.
- •Another great point @tinsi brought up: There is way more diversityIn Berlin, the population was split between white Germans and Turkish immigrants. It was rare for me to see a person of color from elsewhere. Even here, in the white bread Midwest, you meet many different people from different backgrounds -- black, Asian, Latino, etc. Unfortunately, America and Germany share problems with anti-immigration movements. Though there is more diversity here, racism is an issue (and protected under the 1st Amendment, whereas Germany has laws in place for hate speech).