Sure, there are prettier countries than Germany. There are countries with better weather, better beaches, better scuba diving. There are countries with nicer people, countries where everyone dresses more stylishly, countries where the food tastes better and contains fewer potatoes and less heavy cream. Germans have a word for such countries: Urlaublände. Germans adore Urlaublände countries, occupying them frequently during their long vacations and occasional brief wars. But when sufficient fun has been extracted, Germans shout Auf Wiedersehn! and return to their beloved land of Hefeweitzen, Frankfurters and Weltsmertz.
As a former American, you may worry that Germany will seem "foreign." Fear nicht! Germany has been hard at work Americanizing itself ever since the late '40s, when US troops introduced Germans to America's rich national heritage. (The history of our military presence in Germany is somewhat complex; for complete details, just ask any of your German friends about Hitler.) Although an archaic tongue called Deutsch is the official state language, you will find that most Germans converse in an ultra-precise version of American, which they call English. This dialect lends itself extremely well to complex technical explanations, and prevents unpleasant misunderstandings. Therefore, you will comprehend perfectly when a German explains to you a subtle mistake you have made, something amiss in your choice of clothing, or a fault in the design of your non-German backpack. Germans also embrace many American pop-cultural icons, including Laurie Anderson, David Hasselhoff, and certain Disney characters. Don't worry, you will feel right at home.
Germany is served by a dense web of high-speed railways and public transportation--but don't worry! Vast parking lots also await you, stuffed to capacity with expensive new cars. Germans adore both kinds of cars--German and American--so much so that they built an immense national racetrack, called der Autobahn. Unlike our crude freeways, der Autobahn has no speed limit, and no wasteful car-pool lanes. It links all major German cities to a massive central IKEA store from which all furniture is obtained.
One American trait you won't find in Germany is patriotism. Positive German self-image is taboo in Europe. For instance, recently Gerhard Schroeder, the German chancellor, attempted a public expression of mild national pride. I think he said Germany was a strong country. His statement triggered the immediate mobilization of a dozen European countries' armed forces, and a fresh round of French nuclear testing.
Instead of gloating over their considerable national achievements, Germans wallow in shame at how their poorest citizens still cannot afford to travel abroad during the summer. They are humbled by their inability to cure certain rare forms of cancer. Their continued reliance on nuclear power is a frequent cause of public weeping.
Low German self-esteem can work to your advantage. As an ex-American in Germany, you can win any argument simply by shouting, "Sure, but what about Hitler?!" You can get the best seats in restaurants, too, and that's a perk you won't get in France, Czechoslovakia, Mexico or any of those other Urlaublände where the rude waiters pretend not to understand you when you explain, "Me! American! Sit here! American! Much money!"