You know the feeling: to you, your room is sufficiently tidy, your friends can pop by, there’s a few bits and pieces floating around, but generally speaking, it’s grand. Then you’ve got a guest coming to stay, and suddenly the mirror needs to be polished, the books on the shelf should be facing the other way, and you start seeing things that you’d never normally notice. When you look at things from an outsiders perspective you see loads of things that get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I’ve had numerous people here to visit me in Cologne, and each time I’ve picked up on different things about the city that I normally just don’t see at all.
This is a preview of Living in Germany: Schein und Sein.
The novelty of Germany has worn off, but not in a bad way. I’ve just gotten used to it, and I don’t notice the cultural differences anymore. Things that were once very foreign to me are now second nature, I’m conforming to “their” ways, and next thing you know I’ll be drinking fizzy water. That’ll be the day!
While I’m used to them, there are some things I’ll never understand. Sparkling water is just the first thing that springs to mind.
I really just don’t like the taste. It is acidic and horrible, and, contrary to what it says on the bottle, it’s not “natural.” Nein, danke.
Germany needs Tesco.
This is a preview of Living in Germany: Supermarkets and Sprudelwasser.
In between noticing an awful lot about my adopted country-fellows, I seem to have taken on several of their virtues without quite realising it. In fact, it was only after I did a little fist pump upon buying a snug and stylish Autumn/early Winter jacket today – in the balmy midst of summer – that I realised I would never have considered buying a jacket, let alone a mid-season jacket in the middle of summer, before. Hell, up until I moved here, I essentially avoided buying coats and jackets altogether. Then I started thinking …
This weekend brought with it a series of reminders that, in case I had forgotten or indeed been so desensitised to the cultural quirks of this glorious country they ceased to have an effect, I am indeed in Germany. That happens, occasionally. A situation arises, a conversation is had, a premise wandered into and one is reminded of the essence of this place that has become the norm and the fact that the essence can in fact be delightfully strange.
I used to think Germans behaved strangely in the sun (their manner suspicious, vaguely panicky, a little startled) for the fundamental reason they see very little of it (except for those living in the country’s sunniest city, Freiburg). But living up North these past few months, I have added a second prong to my theorising about the Germans and weather. I now suspect they behave the way they do because one can never be sure, when the sun does eventually come out, whether it will last for 30 seconds, three minutes or three hours and whether, when it disappears, it will be seen again for days or, possibly, weeks.
This is a preview of Living in Germany: Sunlight? What sunlight?.
I’ve already recommended this blog to so many people but I absolutely loved Adam Fletcher’s How to be German in 20 Easy Steps. It’s gone somewhat viral among those of us on Erasmus in Germany because we can relate to so many of the things mentioned and because we all desperately want to learn to be German, obviously.
I loved reading that blog, and generally I love reading anything about “the Germans.” I’ve written about “the Germans,” and yes at times it can seem like a sort of “us” and “them” thing, but that’s just a bit of fun. It’s what we in Ireland would call “having the craic” (.. or in today’s terms “the lols” and “the bants”).
This is a preview of Moving to Germany: Who Are “the Germans”?.
The Irish temperament is quite different from that of the Germans. Photo copyright dpa
The Irish are known for their amazing ability to let things slide and not get too worked up about anything in particular. We’re known for having a good time and not letting things get us down. Even in these dark times of incessant rain and economic doom and gloom, we can always find a way to have a laugh and a good time. We are blessed with this eternal optimism in the form of the phrase “be grand.”
This is a preview of National Temperaments: Germany Versus Ireland.