The Atlantic

Should I Have Stayed in Germany?

The coronavirus is making me experience what Germans poetically call heimweh, the hurt of being far from your native land.
Source: Michael Kappeler / AP

In times of upheaval or natural catastrophe, the State Department often advises Americans to avoid some of the world’s poorest nations. When ISIS took over large parts of Syria and Mali descended into civil war, the federal government implored Americans not to go to those countries. One of the pieces of advice it offers to those who insist on visiting them anyway is rather blunt: “Draft a will.”

These warnings speak to a set of assumptions so obvious, they seem almost silly to spell out. America is a rich and stable country. So long as U.S. citizens stay home—or restrict their travel to other developed nations—they are likely to remain safe. Travel warnings tend to flow from north to south, rich to poor, democracy to dictatorship.

This makes it all the more striking that, for the first time in living memory, the German embassy has now asked citizens who are currently in the United States to . Rather than

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