Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Real Expat Life: Things I won't miss about Germany

When you move abroad you go through phases. First you're in wonder. Everything is different and new and exciting and an adventure! Then the frustration. It's different and it's hard and I JUST DON'T LIKE IT. Then, you come to terms with it, make the best of it, and then you're fully integrated and you've passed the culture shock test, right?

Har har! ;)

I'm of the opinion that no matter how long you live in a place, there will always be things that drive you crazy about it (this can also be said of "back home" too, lest you think I'm picking unfairly on good ole Deutschland). I also think that as an expat blogger, I should be honest about what life is really like-ups, downs, and in betweens. I love Germany, but sometimes it irks me. And that's ok!

 This past weekend I was feeling very frustrated with Germany...probably because it took 7 hours to finish 3 loads of laundry, i scrubbed 2 inch thick calcium deposits off the shower door, and finding that the store I needed to pop into was only open from 9-11:30 on Saturday (what?!). Thus, the list was inspired.

So, here goes. Things I WILL NOT miss about Germany!

1. The calcium buildup
Geez louise, this frickin' calcium in the water!! If we don't squeegee the shower doors right when we get out, you can forget it. The only thing that will make a dent in the calcium buildup is my landlord's potent homemade concoction that came with his warning-"Don't get it on clothes or skin! Makes holes!" Hmmm....

I mean, I grew up near the beach, so I know that tap water isn't always great, but geez. My poor hair, skin, and household appliances...

Dreaded condensation dryer...

2. The tiny washer and dryer that take 4 times longer to get the job done
When I first started doing laundry with Euro washers back in my student days, I thought, surely they can't all be like this. Then I lived in a WG in Berlin. Then in my own apartment in Bavaria. And yep, they're all like that.

Why does a machine need 2 hours to run a load on hot water?! How is that even remotely green? Don't even get me started on the dryer-it takes an additional 2 hours to get anything dry, and then I have to dump the water it collected in its fancy condensation system.

Sorry, but this is 2013. This 1800s style day long washing adventure is no bueno, yo. I JUST WANT CLEAN SOCKS.

3. The monthly recycling pick up
I like that Germans have such a great recycling system in place. I do not like bags of recyclables sitting in my kitchen or outside because you only pick them up once a month. Maybe twice a month? Work with me!

4. Complicated recycling in general
When I first started recycling in Germany, it was so confusing. And rest assured, your German neighbors will not hesitate to publicly humiliate give you a stern talking to if you get it wrong. That waxed paper feeling carton? PLASTIC. It has a tiny metal ring on it? DOES NOT BELONG IN THIS BIN.

It's stressful, y'all.

5. The Autobahn and its manic speed demon drivers
The Autobahn sounds cool. Drive as fast as you want! Yay! But then you drive on it and realize that the majority of the highways are only 2 lanes wide. Then you factor in that long haul trucks stay in the right lane going around 70k while speed demons in Porsches are blazing past in the left lane going 300k. Then poor you, in your mid range car trying to go 120k and you try to pass a truck? Prepare yourself for the rudest, most aggressive drivers ever to tailgate, flash their lights and bully you til you get out of the way. It stresses me out.

I mean, why wouldn't you make the Autobahns 3 lanes? This seems like simple logic. Or better yet, German speed demons, learn some patience! And switching lanes? Prepare to have a heart attack as some dude is inches from sideswiping your front bumper as he gets in your lane. SPACE. IT'S A THING. End rant.

6. Germans' assumptions about Americans
Germans are very well versed on the world and its goings-on. But it always annoys me when I meet someone and they want to launch into bashing Americans. Look, I know America has its problems, but newsflash: Just because you watch American TV shows and read the newspaper doesn't mean you're an expert on my country. America is huge. It's diverse. We've got conservative regions, liberal regions, and everything in between. Languages, cultures, traditions-there is no one size fits all. So please spare me your insight when you've never even been to my country and I'm quite possibly the first American you've ever met in real life. Get to know me before you start making assumptions.

This also goes for comments like, "Oh you're American? But you're smart/cultured/speak other languages/not obese." Rude, guys. (And yes, I've had all those comments made to me)

7. The random opening hours
I get it, it's a different culture. But I will never understand how it makes sense business wise to be open ONLY from 9:30 to 11 on Saturday. How are you making money?

8. The lack of good Mexican food
This isn't your fault really, cause you're super far away from Mexico. But please stop putting Turkish food in a burrito and calling it Mexican. It's not and it just disappoints me.

Tasty, but not Mexican.

9. Awful German radio
A German friend of mine was very upset when I told him this and insisted it's just because I live in Bavaria. Be that as it may, I've driven all over Germany and have been disappointed by the radio. Partly because Germany has apparently made it a national mission to support obscure one hit wonders and keep royalties flowing to them and also I guess Germans just have a thing for techno beats and cheesy lyrics awkwardly constructed in English. Who knows.

But y'all, I heard Old MacDonald Had a Farm being played on the radio one day as part of a normal lineup. Like...what?! NO.

10. Roads that are not big enough for two cars
This might be a Bavarian problem. Look, I know we're in the country, but why do you build tiny, winding roads that only fit one car. I noticed you added little tiles on the sides so I don't have to drive in the dirt when I pass another car. Nice idea, but that could've been avoided if you'd just built it for 2 cars to begin with...

11. The staring.
Germans stare. It's not weird to them. If you return their stare they keep on staring. It's odd and gives me the creeps.

12. Lack of screens
The weather is great, the sun is out, the house is stuffy-open the windows! Oh wait, now I have to spend all day killing the wasps and flies that came in too. Screens! They're a great invention!

So that's my list. But because I don't want to dwell on the negative and because there are plenty of things I LOVE about Germany, that list will be up tomorrow! Hooray!

So how about you? Anything you love/hate about your new home? Anything on here you agree with? Let me know! :)


  1. Defintitely agree with the bad Mexican food thing. I mean, they can't even do Spanish food either. And I miss seafood. Also, I hate the radio anywhere but especially Germany. The German's aren't really known for their good music haha but all they play is shitty American pop music, or random weird one hit wonders like you said. It's so weird haha.

    1. I've seriously heard some of the weirdest songs on the radio. Where do they find this stuff??

  2. Haha! Great list! I was just about to do a post similar to this! I definitely Italy agree about the staring and the radio! I don't get why they play so many English songs. They have music in German so why all the one hit wonders from the states? Plus I hate all the static on the radio. Grr....

    1. Seriously! You find a good station and it's disappeared into static a few miles later...then back to bavarian oompah bands and some sappy 1970s ballad not even my parents have heard of!

  3. I was nodding my head as I read this, lots apply to France too... the calcium in the water here is ridiculous, my clothes washer is so small (my mother is always asking my how come every time she talks to me I'm doing laundry), the radio here SUCKS, and I'm constantly being confronted by people AND news programs all about how awful America is. It's beyond frustrating.

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Especially the America bashing thing-just because you watch How I Met Your Mother religiously it doesn't make you an expert on American culture. And besides, if they want to hate on the US all the time why are they packing mcDonalds and playing our dumb music all the time? Hmm..

  4. number 6, 7, 8, and 10! Seriously, give up people, all American's are not equal! I do feel like a movie star sometimes though when people want to talk to me because of my accent, and I'm in England! They are the ones that sound cool haha.

    1. It is kind of fun when people get excited over your nationality, though "Oooh an American!!" makes me feel a bit like a zoo animal! ;)

      With so many American expats in Europe you'd think we could get some good TexMex round here!

  5. Yes yes yes yes yes! The opening hours really get me - they're impossible to remember. Like the stadtburo has different times just about everyday and they're so random. I look forward to your list tomorrow!

    1. They are crazy. Just today I desperately needed to talk to the bank-closed til 2pm for lunch, closes for the day at 4:30. What?! Is that even a work day?? :P

  6. Does your washing machine have a 'speed perfect' button? If you have a washer with this setting it will get your laundry done in an hour.

    Any yes, the tiny roads and tiny parking spaces and crazy aggressive drivers can be so stressful. Especially now that I always have my daughter in the car with me!

    1. I'll have to look for that! If I wash it on cold it's about an hour, but hot water takes at least 2 hours, sometimes more. Crazy!

  7. 1, 2, 7, 8, and 12 can all be applied to the Netherlands, too. The calcium build up is killer, and even leads to our shower drain clogging. It's nuts. I haven't run into #6 like you have, aside from one instance of "Why is America always making war?" That was a fun conversation...

    1. It's frustrating when people can't separate government from actual people. Sometimes I want to be like, Oh that's a great point! Just let me call up the president on my direct line to him and let him know what you think. Cause I can totally do that..

      I'm sure having kids makes the washer situation a pain! My poor mom lived in Europe when we were little and the house had no dryer. Those were rough years!

  8. Most of these apply to the UK as well, so you're not alone in Germany :-/ I used to have a separate washer and dryer, and I would wash on the quick cycle which only took 45 minutes (unless it was towels and work out clothes, must use scorching water for that). It cut down my load time quite a bit. Now that I have the combo, it's hopeless and I can only do two loads a day, and it's annoying to even call it a load because it is three towels, a hand towel and a wash cloth . The W/D is my biggest complaint about "not-America" haha

  9. Reading this, I realised there are two things I do find weird, but sort of forgot about them being a German thing! The no-screens thing ... TOTALLY! And the calcium build up - YES! My hair has never knotted before, the minute I touched down in Germany, knots. Always. When we lived up North, it was even more pronounced, our kettle had to be de-kalked, regularly. But apparently they pump in their water from Scandinavia (so my students regularly informed me) so maybe it's a Northern Europe thing.

  10. I have to say I agree with your list. Something I would add is shopping for clothes. I have been here 3 years and I have yet to find a place that I love and has good quality clothes. It's either really expensive and I can't afford it, or it is cheap and after washing it a couple of times it's done. Maybe I have been walking into the wrong stores but, I miss shopping in the states.

  11. Yes! so true. especially the mexican food. And agreed with screens, this summer we had a BIRD fly into our apartment. That would have never happened in America. Here is my post on our 1st year of living in Germany: