Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's a Quirky Day in the Neighborhood

I thought I would take a break from posting about our travel adventures and write about another topic: the quirks of living in Germany. Even though I had visited Germany prior to moving, it is still a bit of a culture shock to actually live here. I've been told that it takes a few months to get settled here and I certainly believe it's true. We've been here for a month and a half and we really are loving it so far, in spite of, and maybe even because of, these quirks.

*Telephone numbers- I still haven't figured this one out. I finally memorized my own phone number which is 12 digits long. The number of the numbers are different- from 10-13, sometimes you have to dial a prefix, sometimes not, some numbers I can call with my go phone, others not. It's pretty annoying, mainly because I am not a numbers kind of gal.

*On all cars here in Germany, two license plates are required, one on the front and one on the back. Doesn't matter if you don't have a license plate holder on the front or not. In this case (our case), you have to drill the license into your front bumper.

*At most public venues, you have to pay to use the public restrooms. Sometimes in restaurants, even if you are a customer. It isn't much, usually 0.50 euro cents. That being said, Germany has some of the cleanest public restrooms that I have ever seen. So unlike America in this respect.

*Radio stations here don't really have a specific genre that they play. Most of them just play it all from oldies to country to Top 40. Thankfully they like American music and play it all the time. The only annoying thing is that the radius for most stations is very small so we are frequently having to find a new station when traveling. Seek and Scan are my new best friends.

*No closets, storage, few cabinets- This is perhaps the biggest and most annoying quirk of all, and only because we have a lot of stuff. A LOT. Im talking 13,000 lbs. of stuff in 10 crates. Seriously. How two people have that much stuff, I dont know. Wait, yes I do. My mother. I'm pretty sure I can blame this one, at least partially, on her. She likes to buy me stuff, which I love. She is also the greatest bargain shopper out there and has taught me a thing or two. That means I can buy more stuff at a better price. J would tell you it's the cake pans. Apparently, they take up too much room. Good thing his opinion of them doesn't count! ;)

*German kitchens have TINY little ovens and dishwashers. Tiny. This presents a major problem for me because I love to bake. Unfortunately, Ive already discovered that some of my cake pans will not fit into the oven. And you can forget trying to cook a turkey in there for Thanksgiving. Or more than one item for that matter. As far as the dishwasher goes, well, sometimes the dishes get clean and sometimes they dont. It usually takes an hour to run one small load and it is so loud, you can hear it throughout the house. I think in the future the dishwasher will become the place where I hide the dishes until I am ready to hand wash them.

*In Germany they have some very strict laws when to comes to quiet hours, dogs, and home & car maintenance. Quite hours are daily from 1300-1500 and after 1900 until 0600. Dogs must be well behaved and can not bark for 10 consecutive minutes or more than 30 minutes daily. Seriously. Cars can not be driven with obvious malformations. You know the cars back home that have duck taped windows and bungee cords securing their bumpers? Well, that isnt allowed here. You're not supposed to even drive with a cracked windshield. Your driveway must be swept and kept clean and if it snows, your drive must be shoveled by 0600 the following morning! While it's true they are strict about many things, one thing they are definitely more relaxed about is driving. While the other 90% of their lives appear to be at a slower pace, it seems that they are always in a hurry when driving. Speeding is a way of life around here. I feel like I am taking a chance with my life every time I cross the freaking road! There are many parts of the autobahn in our area that do not have speed limits at all. Sure, they recommend that you not drive over 130 kph, but you can legally drive as fast as you want.

*Many businesses do not accept credit cards or will only accept European credit cards. Back home, J & I NEVER used cash. I rarely carried any cash at all. We were card carrying people. This has been a major adjustment for us. One morning, brunch with new friends turned into coffee only because not only did the restaurant only accept euro, but the nearby ATMs were all out of order. We've learned quickly enough to always have euro now.

*I knew about this next one since we had visited Europe before, but I wasnt really prepared for it. German homes and most businesses do not have air conditioning. Granted, most of the year the weather isn't hot enough for one, but coming from the grand ole US of A where pretty much every building has one, it's an adjustment. Instead, we have 8 fans for our 3 story house. Those, combined with using the rolladens (a lovely little invention), work really well. It really isn't a problem in our home, but when we go to a store or restaurant, I definitely start to...glow.

*I don't know if it's just me or what, but it seems like there isn't an easy way to get to any destination. This might be partly because I don't know my way around yet.

*Germany's recycling laws are very detailed and very strict. We have three different trash receptacles and two different colored bags for trash plus an extra bin for glass. Our pantry/laundry room is pretty crowded with them all! Im definitely pro-earth and all for recycling, but it does get a bit confusing deciding where things go.

*At German grocery stores and even on base at the BX, a deposit is required if you would like to use a shopping cart. You insert a euro into the slot on the cart and it unlocks from the rest of them. When you're finished, you just hook it back up to the other carts and you get your deposit back. It really is a genius way to make sure people bring their shopping carts back and don't leave them in the parking lot for someone to hit.

These are just some of the things that I've noticed in our 6 or so weeks here. I'm sure the longer we're here, the more I'll notice. I'm definitely ok with that. This isn't America and it isn't quite home yet, so I expect there to be certain...quirks that I'm not used. I'm actually looking forward to them. This is a grand adventure that we are on and I plan on making the most out of it!

To all of you who currently do or have lived overseas, what are some quirks that you've noticed?

Happy Weekend Everyone! =)


ACU's and ABC's said...

I laughed at some of these because I noticed a lot of them as well during my three week trip to Spain :)
I'm glad you have a good attitude about all the quirks. It sounds like you are on a fun adventure!

Anonymous said...

I would love to live overseas, but I definitely worry about a lot of the things you mentioned, because they even started to bother me after just a couple of weeks of visiting countries! Mostly the size issue--bathrooms, closets, cars even!--and the lack of a/c. Also, ice--do they do that in Germany! I always have to beg for ice in Europe, and then they bestow upon you one measly little cube!! Still, I think it's be worth it in the end just to experience another country fully for a couple of years :)

Ashley said...

I forgot about so many of these during our tour in England. It is funny the small things that you forget like the deposit for a shopping cart. That blew me away. One of our first trips to London, we arrived at the train station and I had to go to the restroom so bad! I got there and you had to pay to go in. David had all my money. Thankfully the person working the restroom thought I was a dumb American tourist and let me through! It was an emergency! I was always surprised how early stores and businesses closed. I don't know if Germany did this, but if you ordered a Coke in England they served it with 2 pieces of ice and a lemon. EEEWWW!! OH and you had to pay for ketchup at McDonalds and Burger King.

Uncork and Unwined said...

Ice is definitely another issue here. You don't usually get ice with drinks. They are served cool, but not ice cold. And if you do get ice, it is a cube or two only, which melt almost instantly.

We haven't had to pay for ketchup yet. That's a new one to me!

Jaime said...

i love this post. i'm taking mental notes to help me prepare for our upcoming move.

ALW said...

Ahhh yes I've experience most of those things living here in Italy. The one thing I despise is the recycle bins! We have 5 of them!

New Girl on Post said...

I'm with you on the closets. I miss closets so much! I also miss Mexican food!

Paying for plastic bags at the grocery stores is another thing that's weird to me here.

I have to say though I did not know some of those things about Germany. Definietly a little bit different than living in Italy!

Mrs. Ma'am said...

Sounds A LOT like England! Way too similar!

Thanks for the lovely comment the other day! I am now following your blog! I love my fellow MilSpouses, and I also LOVE traveling!

Mary and Sean said...

I remember it being hard to get ice in a drink in Germany. Great detailed explanation of the differences. It's funny how small details like that can make a big impact on lifestyle

Anonymous said...

I'm a new follower...just wanted to say "hi"!

I was going to mention the ice and ketchup as being quirks when I lived in London and in Russia, but people already beat me to them! LOL!

Sara @ Life With the Two said...

You can get a "slug" for the shopping carts. They cost about €1 and can be used in the carts just in case you don't have change on you. Which, with the only €1 and €2 being coins this is rare. I have one I keep in my wallet just for that.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'll be back to visit more!

Casey said...

Oh my goodness...what I have to look forward to! Ugh. The hubby and I are totally card carrying people too...we've already talked about how hard that transition will be! Quick question...did you guys happen to sell alot of your appliances (like coffee pots, waffle makers) since they run on different volts? We are trying to decide what to do with some of our things...a yard sale is pending, I know that for sure!