I’ve now been living in Germany for ten weeks. Time has flown by since I’ve been in Berlin. The more time I spend here, the more normal life feels, especially now that I’ve gotten into somewhat of a routine since starting university, meeting people and finding out what makes the city tick.
ALSO OFFICIALLY AS OF TODAY, I HAVE A VISA!
An actual visa, which means I’m legal to stay here for two years, coming in and out of Berlin as I please. I couldn’t be more happy and thrilled about it. Hard work, tears, patience and a little help from my friends and colleagues at Uni allowed for this to happen, and for that I am forever grateful!
Adding to the now two months I’ve had since writing the first part of this piece, I’ve noticed a ton of other things that are unique to the new country and figured I’d continue to share.
Without further ado: Here is part II to the 20 Things I’ve Noticed Since Moving To Germany.
- Germany is known to be an energy efficient country. Something I’ve noticed here is that in the apartment buildings, they all have lights in the hallways for you to turn on/off whenever needed. In the USA, the hallway/ apartment lights before going into your flat are always on, but not here. It saves so much electricity.
- Speaking of efficiency, the same can be said with bags at grocery stores. Markets don’t always provide plastic bags and the cashiers certainly don’t bag anything for you. If you go grocery shopping, it’s usual to bring your own bags and reuse them every time after that. If you want to purchase one at the supermarket, chances are you have to pay for them. (…but make sure to buy the paper bags, not plastic).
- Children go to school alone. Every day while I’m riding the tram, I see so many children, without parents, going to school. This would NEVER happen in America. Here, children as young as 5 years old are hopping on and off the subway and buses with no care in the world about their safety. They automatically assume their safety. Talk about trust?
- Every. single. German. man. smells. the. same. It’s a fact. They all wear the same cologne, whether it be an older man, younger man, tall man, you name it. I can now smell it in my sleep at this point because no matter what setting I’m in, I can always catch a familiar whiff of someone’s scent. I think it’s Ralph Lauren?
- The same can be said for the girls. They all smell the same and for the most part, all German girls dress the same, too. White Reeboks, black skinny jeans, some sort of big puffer jacket, mostly wearing all black, their hair in the same pulled back style.
- Another thing I’ve noticed about most apartments in Berlin is that most don’t have living rooms, or if they do, the tenants convert them into another bedroom. The latter probably has to do with the horrendous housing crisis there is in Berlin, but I’m not sure if the no living room situation is an overall Germany situation as well?
- Adding to the no living room situation, because of it, most people, if they have people over at theirs, hang out in the kitchen, which, to me, is super Danish ‘hygge’ and endearing.
- Since being in school, I’ve noticed that my professors clap after one of us has presented. Normal and usually something that happens back home as well. But clapping here in Germany is done by pounding loudly on the table, and not by pressing one’s hands together, which makes for quite a disturbing sound at first, but I’ve since gotten used to it.
- Two of my new favorite phrases in German are “ach so” and “stimmt so.” At first, I had no idea what either meant, but they are said so often here in Berlin that I had to learn what they mean. “Ach so” is pretty much a German filler phrase for what Americans use as “so like” or “oh really?” It’s such a universal phrase that can be used in any and every conversation. I LOVE it.
- Most people I come across in Berlin/Germany/Europe have done or are doing a Master’s degree. It’s so common here to continue pursuing further education after a Bachelor’s. In America, that’s not so much the case. (…probably because it costs a fortune to invest in it).
- Germans are very well–traveled and almost all go or have been on vacation somewhere in Spain when the German winter hits.
- I am always hearing new slang terms here in Berlin, which is so great and unique to the city itself. Whenever someone is excited about something, they say “GEIL!” Whenever someone wants to say no, instead of nein, they’d say “nay.” When someone wants to say goodbye, the “tschau” comes out (pronounced like the Italian “ciao”).
- I just recently got sick for the first time since moving abroad, which usually means a stuffy or runny nose. But I don’t fear that anymore because Germans are always well equipped with packaged tissues. No joke, they always have them handy, so I’ve realised I never have to buy them myself! 😉
- People who are married in Germany don’t wear their rings on the left hand like they do in the USA. Instead, it’s on the same finger of course, but on the right hand. You’d be surprised at how many people have asked if I’m married since I wear my college ring on my ring finger of my right hand.
- German fire sirens are VERY LOUD. When my mom was here during my first week in Berlin, she commented on how intimidating the sirens were too, reminding her of old WWII movies where the SS and the Gestapo were patrolling the streets during war times.
- German Schlager music? TERRIBLE, but also a universal concept back home, too. Shitty music that everyone secretly loves and sings when very drunk and in the right environment.
- Christmas prep starts as early as August here, which makes me kind of sad since Halloween and Thanksgiving aren’t celebrated here, but makes me anticipate Christmas markets even more! I have yet to try Glühwein.
- The pretzels and nuts served at bars are so helpful and effective. The whole eating while drinking concept to not get so drunk comes so naturally here in Germany/Europe. Americans (and Brits for that matter) should take note.
- Germans pronounce English V’s as W’s when speaking in English and it’s so damn cute.
- There’s another new concept I’ve learned here in Germany and it is called ‘frische Luft.’ Direct translation: fresh air. Actual meaning: when Germans open the windows in their apartments (or wherever else, bar, school, etc.) to circulate air even when it’s f****ing -5 degrees outside because they want to kill Americans and freeze us to death.
So there you have it, another list of things I’ve noticed since living here in Germany. I may have another one coming, but I hope to have entertained some of you, Germans and not.
Can you relate to any of these? Foreigners? Germans? Let me know!