It’s the little things that stick

As I unsuccessfully tried to stuff my duvet into my new cover this morning I had to laugh. I’ve been using a duvet since I was a teenager living in Germany and I still suck at duvet wrangling.

Why don’t I give up on the duvet and go back to what I grew up with – sheets and a bedspread? Because using a duvet reminds me of living abroad. (And, practically speaking, I’m lazy and it’s so much easier to make my bed using a duvet.)

Otto loves my duvet as much as I do.


Thinking about why I still use a duvet got me thinking about all of the little things I incorporated into my life after living in Germany:

  • Using a duvet (and for a while I had a large square pillow, just like the one I had in Germany)
  • The way I write certain letters (k, n, and u – I still tend to write these the German way)
  • I eat real butter and whipped cream (as opposed to the margarine and Cool Whip I grew up with)
  • I love bread and cheese for breakfast
  • I tend to cook one thing for dinner (as opposed to the protein, veg, starch, salad, bread I grew up with)
  • I’m disappointed when bus service isn’t punctual and schedules aren’t detailed
  • Certain German words always pop into my head before the ones English do (e.g., Landschaft)
  • I don’t write with a fountain pen as often these days but I still have at least 10 in my pencil jar on my desk
  • My favorite summer dessert is still Rote Grüze and I make it every year

I’m sure I could think of a bunch more – these are just off the top of my head. I mentioned recently that living abroad as a teenager didn’t change me so much as it created me. I identify as US American but I’m like mint chocolate ice cream…mostly US American with flecks of Germanness throughout.

What about you? What have you incorporated into your life after living abroad?

About the Author: Dr. Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is on a mission to make re-entry after living abroad a positive, transformational force (even when it’s not easy…especially when it’s not easy)! Cate is the author of the Re-Entry Roadmap workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 37 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

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