Can I just say how much I love reading expat blogs? There's something about hearing of odd and strange stories from around the world that makes me feel a little bit better whenever cultural differences slap me in the face here in Korea. That's why I love reading Ariel's blog, My Life in Verbs. She often highlights some of the aspects of living with her family in Germany as well as documents their travels around Europe (some of my favorites are here and here). Read on as she describes just a few of the cultural differences, both good and bad, of living in Germany!
Hi everyone! Big thanks to Chelsea for letting me post on her fantastic blog! I found her inspiring little nook in the blog-o-sphere when I moved to Germany and began seeking out other travel bloggers. I love connecting with other travel lovers and expats!
I am a proud military wife that has had the opportunity to live in two foreign countries with my husband and two sons: Japan for four years and Germany (currently). Okinawa, Japan was absolutely amazing. I most definitely left a little piece of my heart there. We've only been in Germany about four months, but even in that small amount of time we have learned a lot of interesting things! I love learning the ins and outs, ups and downs of a culture besides my own. I thought I'd share with all of you a few about living in Germany!
1. No A/C.
When I first learned there was no air conditioning in Germany, I have to say I was a TAD freaked out. I am from Texas, and no A/C means, uh, a stroke. But, the Germans are pretty smart, and the homes here are built to keep cool. They are made with concrete/cinder blocks, so it actually stays fairly decent in the summer. Normal temps in the summer are in the 70s (although it reached 90 yesterday...yikes!), so heat is not really an issue here. Although, the past few weeks we've slept downstairs since it stays a tad cooler down there. I don't know about you, but I like it COLD in my room when I sleep!
So the Germans are smart. I said that already, but they are. Every single house has metal shades that roll over every window/door in the house. They can be rolled down partly or completely to cause complete blackout. When we first got here it was cold out and we weren't really sure what they were for. But now we get it. In the summer Germans keep them rolled down most of the day. The sun doesn't go down until about 10:30 in the summer, so the shades are great for helping to cool the house down. They are ALSO great for the kids' nap times!
The rolladens on this house are green. Many homes have automatic rolladens, but some (like ours) have to be raised/lowered using a pull rope.
3. Quiet Hours and Sundays
Ah, this is the one no one likes. No Americans, at least. Germans are big sticklers about their quiet time. Monday through Saturday there are quiet hours (Ruhezeit) from 8:00pm - 7:00am and 1:00pm - 3:00pm, and on Sundays quiet time is ALL DAY. This is German law. You may not do things like mow your lawn, play loud music, or sing at the top of your lungs during quiet hours. Bummer, right? It really was kind of hard getting used to the 1:00 - 3:00 quiet time, but we have now grown used to it.
I have to say that I think Japan is the most stringent when it comes to recycling (kind of have to be when you live on an island), but Germany is a pretty close. I realized very quickly that Americans are trash whores. We have ginormous trash bins that are usually full every few days. Here, trash gets picked up every TWO WEEKS in a bin half the size of those in the states. I can fit 2 bags with the lid closed. It's annoying, but it has taught me to be very mindful of what I throw away. On the weeks opposite of trash pick up is recycling pick up. We are mandated to separate our recycling into 3, sometimes 4 ways:
-Plastics, aluminum, styrofoam, laminated milk cartons, foil
-Some towns do biodegradable bins.
Separation is done by different colored plastic bags. Glass can also be taken to recycling stations and divided by glass color. You can also take beer bottles to these centers and get money back for them!
Okay, that's a given. But what I REALLY wanted to say was that the rest stops along the Autobahn are some of the nicest you'll ever come across! So nice, in fact, that the toilets clean themselves. I took this video at a rest stop in Germany as we were driving to Prague because I was so amazed. I want this in my house:
In addition to self-cleaning toilets and helping the environment, there are so many more interesting tidbits about Germany: Christmas markets, Volksmarches, May Poles, tons of festivals, BEER... We love it all so much! If you'd like to read more about our experiences here you can find them over at my blog! Cheers!