Since my last post some unexpected things have happened.
Would you believe I touched down in Germany ready and raring to completely immerse myself in German life, German culture and hopefully to at least gain an understanding of the German language a mere three (ish) weeks ago?
These weeks have simultaneously felt like an eternity and yet have wooshed passed in a flash of coffees, German verbs and cake; not to mention the wurst, kase and brot! In that time, whilst I still frequently have a blank look on my face as someone talks merrily away to me in Deutsch, I have to some extent gained a grounding in a language I could only before butcher everytime I opened my mouth. (That’s not to say I don’t still destroy it – I continually deal with Germans looking at me in incredulous disbelief after I’ve said something. And the little girl I look after tells me I don’t know German – which, ironically, she says in German.)
Hopefully the title of this post translates, roughly as “Life in Germany: It’s the same as England. Almost”. And really it is. I think I was all prepared for something completely and utterly different but actually, it’s not all that far removed from English life.
|Have you ever seen so many varieties of Heinz sauces?|
Sure, there are differences; driving on the right, (multiple) bins in train stations for all sorts of waste and attitudes towards smoking.
In Germany it’s much more acceptable to light up and cigarette advertising is prolific. In England, I forget the last time I saw an advert for cigarettes or any adverts where cigarettes featured in some small way. Here it’s hard to go more than a few 100 metres without bumping into something promoting smoking or cigarettes. You can even buy your ciggies from vending machines on the street! In the supermarkets by the tills where in England you’d find sweets and chewing gum and other ‘last minute buys’ you will find cigarettes and little miniature bottles of booze alongside the confectionery.
And I’m pretty sure I’ve never even SEEN a bin in an English train station except maybe in a quintessentially old English village in the backwaters of the countryside where it may quite conceivably be the ONLY public bin for miles. I’ve also never seen so many different Heinz sauces in one place, which a brief trip to the local store recently revealed. It was eye-opening, let me tell you. I didn’t even know half of those sauces existed!
I guess other people’s experiences might be hugely different, but for me, aside from wondering first thing in the morning what the strange language going on around me is, Germany isn’t as drastically different as I perhaps imagined it would be. Culture is all about “the way we do things ’round ‘ere” and I’m sure, as time wears on, more differences will arise, particularly when the time comes for me to brave things on my own. At the moment I am blissfully unaware what is a typical German trait and what is a quirk of the family I’m living with.
So for now, I’ll embrace the little differences and oddities that have cropped up into my everyday life and, at least for the time being, I’ll not be too upset about swapping my tea for coffee. I’d been going off tea anyway.
I made it. I actually made it.
Four (quite long) days ago I stepped off a plane and made my way to the Arrivals lounge of Frankfurt International Airport. There I was greeted by three Germans, ready to welcome me into their family for the next three months.
I type this in my new home in the middle of the German countryside watching Fireman Sam, or rather Feuerwehrmann Sam. It’s not quite how I remember it growing up as a child in England. Sam et al appear to have turned into Pontypandy’s super rescue A team; not only putting out fires and saving kittens from rooftops but becoming Pontypandy’s coastguard too.
I should probably point out that I’m watching Feuerwehrmann Sam on my own. Anna, the five-year old girl I’m here to look after for the next three months, is at Kindergarten. The TV is on to try and ease the eerie lack of noise in my new home (and also to help with my learning the German language.)
Everyone warns you moving country is a big deal, but no one quite prepares you for the change!
And it has definitely been a change. Taking everything I want for my life in Germany, and using only a plane to take it, somewhat limits what can be packed. Despite moving house over 12 times in the last eight years, I’ve often failed to clear out unwanted items; habit, time and personal nature resulted in me chucking most of what I own into the back of a car and hoping for the best.
This time, packing a Ford Feista to its gills was not an option. This time, I had just one large suitcase, one small suitcase and a handbag (thank God for BA’s generous hand luggage allowance!). This time, my whole life had to fit into 46kg give or take a few hundred grams.
I’m a natural hoarder (a gene I’ve inherited from my father who would keep anything ‘just in case’), so ruthlessly going through my clothes created THREE bags of items I no longer wore, and several pairs of shoes that had seen significantly better days. Not to mention the collection of general things I no longer used, picture frames, cables, jewellery, little gifts from people I’d never opened, unburned candles, endless toiletries I didn’t need. However even after getting rid of several bags worth of items it took me days to make everything I wanted/needed to fit in my suitcase. (And we’ll just not talk about the small collection of items I’ve wistfully left in England with the plea to anyone coming out to visit to bring an item or two with them…)
Now the drama of the cases is over and done with – well until the next move – the next challenge is settling into German life, learning the German language and not forgetting to drive on the right (so far I’ve not actually got behind the wheel of a car though so that’s not such a problem).
I do, however, really miss breakfast cereal.
Over the last few months this blog has somewhat been lacking posts and for this I apologise. It is not because I have become slack at blogging. Far from it in fact. For the last few months I have found myself writing, editing and running blogs for others (most notably Anya 17 and Hope City Frankfurt). Only thing is, between that and holding down two part time jobs, it left me with no time to write in my own blog (although with probably only six readers in the whole wide interweb I doubt my ramblings have been missed too much!). But now it’s 2012, it’s time to pick up the old keyboard and screen and start over.