Ok, so I’ve moved to an entirely new place and away from the old familiar surroundings. Germany is the new place, Canada was the old.
While I am settling into the new reality and feel quite comfortable adjusting there are a few things that don’t come quite so easy even if they are rather normal things like … oh, say coffee for instance. I can’t find a cup to my liking anywhere and am beginning to wonder what it is that I’m wanting.
Here is a freeform list of things I find interesting to get used to:
Garbage: The Germans take their Garbage seriously as they do most things and it is sorted at home. Plastics and metal cans in one clear yellow bag, regular kitchen waste in a green bag or a blue bag. If your garbage can is full up before pickup day you can purchase an expensive garbage bag at the local city hall for 3.90 Euros making those some of the most expensive plastic bags I’ve ever come across. Paper is also handled separately and you can either sign up and pay for a paper only garbage can that is emptied regularly or you can take your own paper waste to a recycling depot somewhere in a village near you. Glass is also dealt with by the customer either by returning bottles to the store and inserting them into a vending machine that accepts the bottles and then prints up a little ticket with your refund which you can use against new purchases at the store. I like the way plastic bottles are dealt with in some of these vending machines, in goes the bottle, it is scanned for acceptability and then when it is conveyed into the bowels of the machine you hear a crunching, shredding sound et voila … no space robbing storage issues.
Coffee: Seems most of the roasts available here are either light and mild or dark espresso with crema. No French roast, Verona, Komodo, or other roasts that I’ve been accustomed to in the coffee nerd centers of the North American west coast regions. To be fair, I have not yet succumbed to the lure of the lone single Starbucks I know of in the larger city of Basel to the south of me or in Freiburg to my right (wen I face west). I have also noted that much of the coffee making is done by machines with humans pushing buttons and using ‘pads’ instead of the drip method which I prefer. Ok, that is how I like my cafeine/water combination.
Store hours: Difficult when one is in a hurry. Most notable when in a rush around mid day when lots of shops close for an hour or more. Damn you 24 hour lifestyle of the North American continent. That said it goes without saying that pretty much everything (except restaurants) is closed up tight on Sundays. That also means that shopping on Saturday can be a mean feat what with everyone needing to stock up for the weekend.
Alcohol: Pleasant change in attitudes, cheaper prices, larger selection and well … it’s mind boggling at times.
Baked goods: Also pleasant and the selections are also dangerously appealing.
Cheese: Lets just say ‘cheeses’ … way too many to list, try or wrap my head living here were Germany, Switzerland and France touch each other. And Europe being so … small other selections from other countries round out the selection nightmare. I stick to my favorites and try the unknown from time to time.
Meats: Expensive pleasure when indulged if you like your big chunks of red protein for the grill. Sausages abound in nearly endless varieties and game is abundant as well, which is something I’ll try in the near future.
Vegetables: Come from local producers or from Spain instead of Mexico as I have been used to, haha. Much is to be said of the ‘Bio/organic’ movement afoot although it can be suspect in how much organic produce etc can be produced. The area I live in is rural patterned by farm fields and villages and vineyards and this or that organic farm with produce for sale. It is a food lovers paradise to be sure.
Village shop: Yes this village has one, just one. It is not always open but has a selection from magazines to cheese to alcoholic distractions to tide you over until you can get into the next town to do some real shopping.
Hair cutting: Don’t go to the cut and go place, even if you have no other choice. Unless you like having your hair barbered by what appears to be a 12 year old girl who thinks it normal when your hair looks weird after she’s done her thing. I’ve been wearing a hat for a week now and am saving up new hair for a decent cut. I need to find an established Italian or Turkish barber shop or go for the near bald look again.
Bird song: Yup, different birds around these parts too. Ok so the sparrows and swallows and crows are familiar, as are the robins. But the Hawks, buzzards, storks and cranes/herons and pheasants, cookoos and other feathered flying fowl are new and pleasant discoveries.
Driving: Again, another serious engagement. Drive like you mean it. Accelerate rapidly and brake late. And don’t forget, right before left (someone arriving at an indicated intersection from the right always has the right of way, unless you are on a main thoroughfare. It’s ok if you don’t understand because I’m told that the Swiss and the French who frequent these roadways don’t get it either. Hence the ‘brake late and brake hard’ maneuver. Oh, and ATV’s are ok on the road … WTF?!
Look serious: It seems it’s the accepted mean around here. I try to turn that into a smile whenever I can, even if it means the person I smiled at turns after I’ve walked by with a WTF expression on their face, priceless.
Sunday: Is a quiet day, ‘Ruhe Tag’. Today is such a day and I won’t be drilling holes into the wall to hand stuff up. But I’m not sure that I’ve not broken some tabu by cranking up the dishwasher and washing machine before eight this morning …
Summary. When you visit a place everything is new and quaint and interesting and strange and eye opening. When you move to that place it takes a while to slip into the new reality and adapt ones manners to those of the prevailing social norms.
Einen guten Tag noch 🙂