My family and I have had the privilege of calling Stuttgart, Germany home for the last three years. While living on the German economy has its challenges, I am going to miss the friendships I have developed here: US ex-pats, co-workers and locals. While here, my family has experienced 11 countries for the first time: Austria, Belgium, The Czech Republic, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and, of course, Germany. Living here provided an opportunity to my family to visit new places, including a few historical sites, experience other cultures, first hand and for my kids to develop their world view.
My oldest daughter is a freshman in college, studying graphic art and photography. Visiting sites from antiquity and seeing pieces of art her classmates may only know from text books has given her an appreciation for art history by making it real. She has stood at the foot of Michelangelo's "David," visited the Vienna's Museum of Natural History and gazed upon the "Venus of Willendorf," wondered through and photographed many cathedrals she is yet to study.
My son had little interest in site-seeing and taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity his fist year here, but after a spending the better part of a summer back in the US, he exhibited a whole new appreciation for Europe. While here he developed his baseball skills and had a great season (primarily behind home plate), helping the USAGS Texas Rangers to and winning the IMCOM-E championship in a nearly undefeated season. He's now Catcher for our home team back in Central PA.
My youngest daughter (and fellow adventurer), truly embraced the opportunity to live in Germany. Building on good foundational soccer skills, she played on Stuttgart Select (the premiere American training team), the local German girls team and was selected to participate in the Olympic Development Program, trained under Sascha Blank, a former player for the Karlsruhe men's pro team.
Living here would have not been possible without the support of my wife, who came to Germany at great sacrifice to her own career. She is now getting settled in Pennsylvania and taking the Public Relations world by storm. Should you need help with your company or organization's image, she is usually accessible via Facebook.
Having spent the last three years adventuring around Europe, sometimes not traveling too far from home, has helped us gain a new appreciation for our local surroundings. As I return to the US in the coming weeks, I'm looking forward to planning adventures in our own "back yard." But for now, some parting images from last night at the Stuttgart Volksfest...