Category Archives: Things You Didn’t Know


Things you didn’t know: Sundays in Germany

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The term “lazy Sunday” originated well before Andy Samberg decided to rap about it on Saturday Night Live, but living abroad will bring a heightened awareness to the fitting phrase.   Here in Germany, Sundays are sacred. Shops are closed and the hustle and bustle of town…

March 21st, 2016 Things You Didn't Know

Things you didn’t know: German Bockbier…for monks, it’s what’s for dinner

  MUNICH — While I can’t pinpoint the origin of this story, it’s not going to stop me from telling it. And, according to numerous tourism sites and “legend,” it’s true. Promise.   The story goes something like this: In the early 16th century, Paulaner monks of the Neudeck ob…

March 3rd, 2016 Things You Didn't Know

Understanding IMCOM’s Voluntary Placement Program

  GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The Army agency that handles the day-to-day operations of all of the Army’s installations is giving its current employees an opportunity to volunteer for career-broadening assignments within the command before considering outside applicants.   Installation Management Command’s Voluntary Placement Program, or IVPP, gives first consideration to…

February 29th, 2016 Things You Didn't Know

Things you didn’t know: Carrying pepper spray in Germany

  GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — German laws allow you to carry certain forms of pepper spray, but Army regulations prohibit you from bringing it on-post.   Recent reports of an increase in crime and terrorism across Europe, such as those in Cologne and Paris, have raised concerns regarding personal safety.  …

February 1st, 2016 Health & Lifestyle, News, Things You Didn't Know

College students eligible for gov’t-funded travel to visit active duty parents overseas

  GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — College students with parents stationed overseas may qualify for a government-funded round trip visit plus the shipment of unaccompanied baggage, according to Army and federal regulations.   The Army regulation on overseas travel, chapter 5, and the Joint Federal Travel Regulation, paragraph 7155, grant military students…

January 31st, 2016 Health & Lifestyle, Things You Didn't Know, Travel

Things you didn’t know: Fasching is Germany’s most colorful time of year

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — It officially began on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:11 a.m., but the hoopla is just around the corner.   Fasching is Germany’s carnival season, a time of festivity and merrymaking.   It’s an excuse to break rules (and poke fun at those who…

January 29th, 2016 Things You Didn't Know

Things you didn’t know: How to maximize your TSP contributions in 2016

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Are you an Army civilian employee looking to max out your annual contribution to the Thrift Savings Plan?   Each year the Army Benefits Center-Civilian, or ABC-C, posts TSP contribution charts, which specify the dollar amount an employee needs to contribute each pay period to reach the…

December 1st, 2015 Things You Didn't Know

Things you didn’t know: Celebrating birthdays in Germany

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The melody is the same, but the words differ slightly. In Germany, “Happy birthday to you” changes to “Zum Geburtstag viel Glueck,” meaning, “Good luck on your birthday.”   And that luck must only come on the day of birth.   While Germans may not mind celebrating…

November 9th, 2015 Things You Didn't Know

Things you didn’t know: Dining with Bavarians

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — It is customary for many landlords and nearby residents to invite their new tenants and neighbors into their home for dinner. But if you’re new to the area, anticipate some slight differences.   Read ahead to enter this cultural experience well prepared and remember, glasses will be…

October 20th, 2015 Things You Didn't Know

The German grocery store won’t take my credit card. Now what?

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — It’s embarrassing, but it happens. You shop groceries at an off-post grocery store here in Germany. You unload all your groceries at the register and pull out your American credit card. But then, the cashier gives you a blank stare and customers behind you grow impatient. You…

September 18th, 2015 Things You Didn't Know