Recently, I wrote a post sharing some things I have come to love about living in Germany. It was interesting for me to reflect on that, because I did not take to Germany like a duck to water. Settling into a German posting was a tricky and emotional process.
I actually had to move back to the UK and then return before I fully appreciated exactly what life in Germany had to offer. Time spent back on British soil made me realise I had changed. So, just for fun, a light-hearted look, in no particular order, at how living in Germany has changed me.
I have become a Supermarket Ninja.
Have you seen any of the memes on social media about Aldi checkout staff ? Aldi comes from Germany, home of the Olympic speed scan and pack.
If you like the British supermarket ,where all things are sold under one roof and the cashier might make small talk and offer help with packing, German supermarkets are a culture shock. The objective for German cashiers 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. Should you be a little slow, most cashiers have mastered a deft elbow move that allows them to shove scanned items aside, or to the floor, without breaking the tide 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.
Punctuality Means Early.
True story: I once asked my German neighbour how to apologise for being late in German, and she looked at me in horror and told me I must always be pünktlich (punctual).
I have not been great at keeping time. I don’t even wear a watch and if I arrange to meet a fellow Brit, I’d always assume the time is fairly fluid. A little late is still on time-ish.
I quickly learned that in Germany, being on time is really slightly late and in order to be really on time, you have to be five minutes early. This is especially important if you have an appointment , say with a doctor or hairdresser, where being a few minutes late may result in not being seen.
Germany made me better organised and has taught me to keep better time.
I Know Water isn’t Just Water
Ask for water here in Germany and you wont just have the option of bottle or tap.
Bottled water is a big thing, and Germany has plenty 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 reputed to have healing properties, where locals will fill their own bottles.
Above is the Spring in my town, dedicated to St Liborius. I’ve tried some and I prefer bottled fizzy water. But looking at the number of active, healthy oldies round here I think there might be something in it!
The oddest thing about all this? German tap water is perfectly drinkable.
Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose
I knew that recycling was a good thing before I lived in Germany, and I did it. Or I thought I did. Truth is, I hadn’t seen real daily sustainability in action until I lived in small town Germany. It’s a way of life here and it’s rubbing off on me.
Here, I’ve discovered a world of regimented recycling with no less than five individual bins into which goes carefully sorted waste, communal ‘swap boxes’ for neighbours to exchange goods, a culture where it’s highly economical to service and fix things rather than replace them and foraging is the norm.
I know the UK is catching up but I really feel like frugality and sustainability is woven into the fabric of daily life here. And there’s no going back from that. My favourite recycling project I’ve spotted so far? Chair lifts repurposed as picnic tables in Willingen. Aren’t they fun?
Sunday in Germany: Day of Rest
I used to treat Sunday much like any other day. I might be off work, but I’d still be shopping, or off to Ikea or the gym. Sunday is different for me now- slower, restful.
The fact that Sunday is a quiet day in Germany has roots in the German constitution, under which Sunday is declared a day of rest. Additionally, the Ladenschlussgesetz or ‘shop closing law’ that used to forbid Sunday trading has only been very lightly relaxed, meaning it’s more likely that something will be closed on Sunday than open.
Additionally, many of my German neighbours still observe Ruhezeit, or quiet time, which is generally from about 22.00- 07.00 Monday to Saturday, and all day Sunday and public or religious holidays.
Sunday now means slow living and family time. Typically it’ll involve a lazy morning followed by a walk or maybe a sauna and a swim. Grab a coffee or ice cream on the way home and sit down later to a big family meal. And I wouldn’t dream of doing anything that might disturb the neighbours like cutting the grass or taking glass to the communal recycling bins.
The Germans work hard, but they relax hard too. Sunday is the day to just be.
If your looking for a way to relax this Sunday you might enjoy some of my other posts about Germany, why not have a look at Bad Lippspringe & Barbarians, 10 Things to Do with Kids in Germany and 6 Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Hannover
Until next time
All of these points are so true! And you don’t notice yourself changing until you visit home! Great post! The lazy Sundays are the best 🙂
Hi Jenny, change really does just creep up on you! Thankyou so much for taking time to read and comment, it means the world to me 😊
My pleasure 🙂 I really enjoyed reading your post, particularly as I can relate completely! Look forward to reading more 🙂
It’s actually pretty good that the culture in Germany is helping you develop some useful skills like being a ninja. Haha. <3 I get what you mean by that, sometimes I feel like it's awkward when I'm still in line fixing my groceries and the cashier is already dealing with the next customer.
I was a high school exchange student in Germany years ago (lets not discuss how many). So many of your points reminded me of my transition. I learned to ask for “baby water” since I hate sparking water. Visiting large cities on Sunday, always made me feel strange. They were empty and it never felt right. But, in the end I loved Germany and have manage to go back to visit a few times over the years. I would move back in an instant if the opportunity arose.
Baby water makes me smile! Germany converted me to sparkling water but I remember being offered water in hospital when I had my son and being completely confused by the selection. Almost everyone I know who has lived in Germany says the same; settling was a process but then it is forever in your heart. Where in Germany did you go? Sounds like such a great adventure for a young student!