Recently, I wrote a post sharing some things I have come to love about living in Germany. It was really interesting for me to think about that, as I did not take to Germany like a duck to water. Oh, no. Settling in here was a long and sometimes emotional process. I actually moved back to the UK and then returned, before I fully appreciated exactly what life in Germany had to offer. Time spent back on British soil (nothing against it, it’s a great place in many ways) made me realise I had changed. So , I thought it might be fun to take a light-hearted look, in no particular order, at how living in Germany has changed me.
1) I have become a Supermarket Ninja. If you like the British supermarket where all things are sold under one roof and the cashier will likely make small talk and offer help with packing, German supermarkets are a culture shock. German cashiers give Ussain Bolt a run for his money in the speed stakes. Their objective is not to create any kind of experience for you. Rather, it is to get your shopping scanned and thrown to you as quickly as humanly possible. And expect to bag your own groceries. Should you be a little slow, most cashiers have mastered a deft move that allows them to shove scanned items aside, or to the floor, with an elbow without breaking the flow of items being scanned. For the sake of my sanity and to get goods home in reasonable condition, I have learned to pack and pay, Ninja Style.
2) Time keeping. I will hold my hands up and say, I am not great at keeping time. I don’t even wear a watch. If I arrange to meet someone, particularly a fellow Brit, I’d always assume the time is fairly fluid. A bit late is still on timeish. I quickly learned that in Germany, being actually on time is slightly late and in order to be really on time, you have to tip up at least five minutes early. This is especially important if you have an appointment , say with a doctor or hairdresser, where being a few minutes late (my version of on timeish) may result in not being seen. So now, for the most part, I keep better time.
3) I have embraced the importance of water. Ask for a glass of water here in Germany and you wont get a glass of tap water. Bottled water is a thing. Germany has hundreds of varieties and brands of waters. At the very least you can expect to find still and two kinds of sparkling. Slightly flavoured waters are gaining popularity, too. When you buy a bottle here you pay a deposit on the bottle that you claim back upon return. So seeing someone buying or returning a dozen bottles at a time is not unusual. In addition many towns have their own spring, sometimes believed to have theraputic properties. The oddest thing about all this? German tap water is perfectly drinkable.
4) I recycle like a pro. Germany is pretty slick when it comes to recycling and it rubs off on you. We have no less than four colour coded wheelie bins, one each for paper, plastics, general and bio waste. Glass is rinsed and taken to the community recycling bins that are dotted all around ( But never on a Sunday, see point 5) Of course, I always check first that the glass doesn’t have a deposit or pfand on it. That being the case, its back to the shop to reclaim the money. Batteries are taken to a special recycling point. Anything I don’t need anymore that still has life is sold, recycled or given away. All of this not only means Germany has epic recycling rates, it also motivates you to create less waste so you’ve less to deal with. When I first moved here I used to feel rebellious throwing all the trash in one bag or chucking something in the wrong bin. Now I can’t, it makes me feel guilty. And recycling means thinking big too…like recycling an airfield into an aqua park just like Tropical Islands.
5) Sunday equals day off. A massive change for me. I used to treat Sunday like any other day. I might have worked, but even a day off still meant doing stuff. Going to the gym, grocery shopping or a browse round Ikea. Now Sundays are restful. The shops are closed, life slows down. Typically, we’ll have a lazy morning followed by a Sunday walk or swim. Grab coffee or ice cream en route home and sit down later to a big family meal. And I wouldn’t dream of doing anything that might disturb my German neighbours like cutting grass or taking glass to the recycling bins. Sunday is a day to just be.
Until next time