Now that we’ve been in Germany for two weeks, I thought it’d be interesting to post some of my initial observations and reactions to my new country.
– Just about everyone speaks English. People always start a conversation in German, but once they hear our accents and attempts at German, they generally switch to English very quickly. Also, when someone here says that their English isn’t very good, what they really mean is that they can speak better English than some of the people you know whose first language is English. True story.
– Germany is SUCH a green country. They not only recycle religiously, but they even separate the colored glass (white, brown, and green). In the hostel we stayed at here in Freiburg, the only place you’d find a garbage can is in the bathrooms. There weren’t even any garbage cans in the kitchen – only recycling and organic waste bins.
– Going along with the last point, Freiburg is the bicycle capital of Germany, with a 2:1 bike-to-car ratio! I know I’m personally looking forward to getting a bike to relieve my poor feet of walking 3-5 miles per day, but I’m a little nervous about navigating the bike traffic. I’ll learn really fast!
– People here are quite friendly. Germans are known for looking stoic and serious as they go about their daily lives, but just about every time we’ve needed help or asked someone random a question, they have gladly lent a hand. Just as an example, we were trying to buy a tram ticket earlier this week, and you buy them on the tram. Well, given that our combined knowledge of German gets us lots of cred in the Eis Kafe’s (ice cream stores) but not much else, we couldn’t read the machine and couldn’t understand why the coin slot was not accepting our money. Whilst fumbling around with our coins and trying to decipher German Public Transportation system (in semi incoherent English), a nice gentleman next to us said in perfect English, “Can I offer to help?” I know things like this happen everywhere, but I’m glad to know it doesn’t stop here in Freiburg!
– Germans drink a lot of beer. Ok, I know, duh. But I thought it was worth mentioning anyway. Also, they drink beer mixed with other liquids. You know, like Sprite and Cola. These are things! Delicious things! Consider yourselves warned, friends and family – I’m going to find a way to order these kinds of drinks back in the States.
– We can subsist on a surprisingly small amount of food for practically no money. While we were working on getting our bankaccount, we had very limited access to our money. I mean, we had access, but it was expensive access (a fee from our US-based bank + a fee from the German bank + a percentage of your withdrawal!) So, we had a lot of pasta and bread. A normal menu for us in the first few days in Germany looked something like this: Breakfast – a small piece of bread from a bakery (30 Euro cents); Lunch – a small piece of bread from a bakery and maybe a peach (the most expensive food item of this entire menu at a whopping 80-90 Euro cents); Dinner – pasta (59 Euro cents) with red sauce and a piece of chocolate (30 Euro cents). Fear not, everyone. We have free access to our money now, so we’re eating like royalty! Or at least slightly more healthy things (we made grilled chicken and green beans the other day – win!)
– Germany is a really, really tall country. You all know I’m short, but this is insane. I had to stand behind a man who was at least 6’5 at a soccer (cough, I mean football) game in a flat, standing-room-only area. Also, there is a mirror at the school that starts… (STARTS) 3″ above my head when I’m standing.
– Also, what the heck is up with the price of the steak in the photo below?? 33 Euros for ~1 kg (2.2 lbs)? It’d better be gold-fed cow that solves all of my problems in just one day.
Again, I have lots more, but I’m trying to keep these posts to the size of a small novel, so I’ll stop here for now. 🙂