Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Five Most Annoying Differences Between the U.S. and Germany

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things I love about Germany, and a lot of things I think Germany does better. That's a different post. Today, I'm going to focus on the things that drive me a little bit crazy. Some of these are things that I knew about beforehand, but it's a little bit different knowing what something is going to be like and then actually living it every day.

1. This is where pigs come to die.
Germans love their pork. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to keep kosher here.* The biggest problem with this for me is that I really don't like pork. I eat ham on holidays where it's an alternative to turkey and of course I like bacon, but I wouldn't voluntarily eat a pork chop and even sausage has lost some of its appeal for me (you'll recall if you read earlier posts that my first week here I got a little over-saturated). The grocery store has like, multiple varieties of ham type lunch meat and most restaurants, no matter what ethnicity or genre have at least five kinds of schnitzel on the menu. I'm finding ways to avoid it and alternatives but it was a little difficult at first.

2. Beer is cheaper than water.
This one's a double-edged sword. If I weren't pregnant when we had moved here then obviously this would be a feature, not a bug. As it stands though, it's really frustrating. We go to a restaurant and I get .2l or .3l of Fanta (no refills, obviously) for like 2 or 3 Euros and Hunter gets a large beer for the same amount of money. The beer in the store is also quite cheap. I think eventually I'll be moving this to my "pros" column but until then, it's annoying.

3. Tylenol is a controlled substance.
Ok, so I was aware that they don't really have an equivalent to CVS here, and that I would need to buy medicine from the Apotheke. What I didn't realize was A) that they don't just have it out, I have to walk up and say what I want (2nd day in Germany, that wasn't easy) and also that Tylenol is called something different here. Plus they don't have the different combinations of caffeine and aspirin (not that I can have that right now anyway) that they do in the U.S. This one is fairly minor, but given how much Excedrin I used to take it's noticeable.

4. Waiters just don't care.
This is another double-edged sword. I don't need a waiter coming up to me two bites into my meal asking if everything tastes ok. And I was prepared for no unlimited free water, which I usually don't even drink. But, for example, when I want to order food it would be nice if any member of the waitstaff were within my line of sight. Forget about trying to pay the bill. For introverts like us, this one is particularly annoying... I make like furtive eye contact hoping that they will understand... I suppose for some people getting the waiter's attention when they need something is normal but I'm more of the "wait for them to come to me" type. Hunter said he's heard that Germany is particularly bad when it comes to waiters giving a sh*t, and I would definitely believe that.

5. Bedding makes no sense.
So, in America, if you go to buy some sheets for your bed, it will typically come in a package with a flat sheet, a fitted sheet, and one or two coordinating pillowcases, depending on the size. Here, it's a bit different. You buy a fitted sheet, which seems to come mainly in plain colors. There aren't really flat sheets, there are these covers that you get that are kind of like a sleeve, into which you put a blanket: no easy task. The cover came with one pillowcase which was for 80cmx80cm, but the pillows we wanted were 80cmx40cm so we had to buy the pillowcases separately as well. So this is just one of those weird differences that I would have expected was standard across cultures but apparently not.

Anyway I'm hoping to soon do a post detailing some of my favorite things about Germany!

*The obvious joke is left as an exercise to the reader.

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