As you guys know, I've spent the last 3 months here in Germany and my adventure here is soon to come to an end, much to my greatest dismay. In the final stretch of my trip, I found myself reminiscing over the time I've spent here and the many things about this country which are so very different from my own. Here are just a few of those things:
1. The language.
This is a very obvious one and, even if you're like me and have studied German before, when you're surrounded by Germans who speak little-to-no English whatsoever, it's like being thrown into the deep end of the pool when you're still fully clothed and you've been having a terrible day because you just found out you've been fired from your job, ya know? To be fair to the Germans, most people know how to speak English and most people are very accommodating when your German is shit, thank God. As a side note, in New Zealand we generally will ask how someone is as a polite way to follow a "hello", but here in Germany... just, like, don't ask how someone's day is going unless a) you genuinely want to know how their day is because they will actually tell you and b) if you don't know them. They think it's weird if a complete stranger asks them how they are.
2. You will need cash with you at all times.
In New Zealand, the eftpos is King and many people I know will hardly ever have cash on them because it is simply not a necessity. However, here in Germany (and Europe in general), it is the complete opposite. Don't expect to be able to pay for your meal at a restaurant with your credit card, because most of the time it wont be accepted. Everyone I know here carries cash around with them because you pretty much have to. I find this mostly annoying because it means I tend to have a lot of leftover-coins in my wallet, which I despise.
3. Sitting while peeing.
This isn't such a strange one for me, because I'm female (oh, wow, really?!), so I have no choice but to sit down, but back in NZ, I live in a flat with 5 males, so I've spent a fair amount of time having to put the toilet seat down while also cursing the existence of my penis-endowed living creatures. However, I have never, not once, had to put the toilet seat down over here, do you know why? Because I'm 99% sure that guys over here pee while sitting down. At first I thought that maybe German men were just super polite and considerate, but then I saw an "instructional sticker" on how a male must use the toilet while peeing and it confirmed all of my suspicions. Maybe one day the male population of Germany will lose their ability to pee while standing up, kinda like how whales lost their legs or whatever.
4. Public transport.
Can I just go ahead and put this one out there? BECAUSE I LOVE PUBLIC TRANSPORT OVER HERE. Back in NZ, the transport system sucks balls. I got so used to the delays, lame ass timetables and schedule changes that I wouldn't even bat an eyelash when a bus decided not to show up because it was too busy being completely useless. Over here in Germany, the public transport is awesome - it's almost always on time, everyone shuts the fuck up and it doesn't smell like piss. So it was funny when I first arrived and noticed that the German people would kick up a huge fuss if their bus or train was late by 2 minutes. They're so accustomed to a certain level of efficiency, that anything less than perfect is completely out of the question. And now I'm starting to find myself going through a physical, emotional and psychological change every time my bus or train is late. Having to re-adjust to the unreliable transport in NZ is going to be a pain in the ass.
In New Zealand, our drinking culture is pretty huge and most kiwis like to believe that they are beer-drinking-champions. But don't, and I repeat, don't attempt to match a German drink for drink because you will fail miserably and by the time you're crawling into bed because you wet your pants and forgot your name, they won't even be tipsy yet. It's like beer makes them stronger or something. It's almost scary.
6. Supermarkets are closed on Sundays.
If you didn't buy food the night before, you are screwed.
7. Don't mess with cyclists.
In New Zealand, it is not uncommon to hear someone exclaim that they "hate cyclists". Cyclists are annoying, they get in the way, they look dumb, they caused world hunger, etc. But over here, they get their own freaking bike lane on the footpath (usually indicated by red brick) and if you stray into their territory, they will be ringing their bells at you furiously while also planning on running you over and plotting the death of all your family members. If you hear that bike bell, you better fear for your life and get out of the way.
8. Stuff is cheaper.
And it's awesome.
9. You're doing it wrong.
Germans aren't rude, they're just brutally honest, so if you're doing something wrong, they're going to tell you what it is you're doing wrong and how to do it properly (and they're German, so it might sound mean). Don't take it personally, they just want you to be as perfect as they are.
10. The bread.
Bread here is 'real bread', as some Germans have told me, and they have about a billion different types of bread, it's insane. It's thick and it's hearty and you could probably knock out a small child with it. To be honest, as much as I love the quality of the food here, I really miss just having normal, flimsy, NZ toast. Someone hand over the budget brand, I'm sick of having a sore jaw from eating a sandwich, goddamnit.
11. The inward wave.
Germans do this thing where they wave their hand in front of their face (palm facing inward) to indicate when someone is being weird, not making sense or just plain crazy. It makes no sense to me.
12. Sparkling water.
I know I've mentioned this before, and for some reason I think it's a big deal, but 'normal water' here is considered sparkling water, so if you go to a bar or a restaurant and you want normal tap water, ask specifically for tap water. Sparkling water is like a national treasure over here. They love that shit.
Getting a higher education over here is basically free compared to attempting to get a higher education in NZ. The average German student will graduate with having little-to-no debt whatsoever, while your average kiwi will be flying overseas in attempt to find a higher paying job to help pay off their $80,000 student loan OR to escape our government. Either or, NZ education kinda sucks because it's so freaking expensive and the more I remind myself of that, the more demotivated I become.
On that note, I'm gonna go force myself to finish writing my essays because I paid thousands of dollars to get this fucking degree and I literally can't afford to NOT pass. UGH.