Category Archives: Culture Shock

My experiences living in Germany and reacting to the new language and culture.

5 Reasons Why You Should Totally Have Sex with a German Dude


“I share this reluctantly.” — Image Credit: sunshinecity ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Here’s the deal: I am a straight, married, American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. My wife is a scalding hot German woman with two master’s degrees and a smile so stunning it could stop your heart. I did my time as a bachelor before I was married. I’m over it. This is why, years later, single life and the one-night stands which go along with it are about as interesting to me as white hot birdshit.

I have absolutely no motivation to give out dating advice, especially when it might help young German men get a little extra honey on their stingers. The thing is, as a foreign blogger in a strange land, I am compelled to make observations about the things I see around me. I also try to be as honest as possible with my readers, so this is why all you straight women, gay men, bisexual and bi-curious individuals are about to discover the top five reasons why you should totally, absolutely, 100%, drop whatever you are doing right now and pork a German dude:

#1: German Dudes Are Sexy


“Anybody else want to punch this guy right in the heart?” — Image Credit: Hotlanta Voyeur ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Lightly photoshopped.

You know how the stereotypical American tourist is a fat lard with white sneakers and a mean case of type 2 diabetes? Young German guys are the exact opposite; they’re style-conscious, thin and freakishly tall. Listen, I’m 5’10” tall when I’m wearing thick soled shoes, standing up perfectly straight and totally lying to myself. But the dudes here in Germany? They are, as my wife would put it, “lighthouse tall.”

Obviously there are exceptions — I’ve seen a few short guys here too — but most of them are like the Ents from the Lord of the Rings; elongated tree people, all lanky as hell with arms and legs akimbo. And if this is the moment when you decide to be a smart ass and google the average height between Germans and Americans only to find the difference minuscule, you can take those statistics and cram ’em: Here in northern Germany, dudes between the ages of 16 and 35 are tall as fuck. I see them every single day, and their genetic good fortune pisses me off.

One day, in a social setting, I asked a medical student here in Germany why the guys seemed so tall. He didn’t think his countrymen were any taller than mine, but suggested if there were a difference, it probably had something to do with diet. My ingenious theory, however, was that German winters typically last longer than those in the States, resulting in less sunlight and an overall deficiency of vitamin D. I went on to explain, beer in hand, how this would logically require the human body to adapt in order to increase surface area, resulting in a lanky populace better equipped to absorb sunlight. (Of course, according to my theory, Inuit people living in the Arctic should be tall enough to touch the goddamn sun, but hey, I was drunk at the time.)

Now, I have absolutely no explanation why German men tend to be so thin. Consuming the traditional German diet is like getting down on your knees and praying for a heart attack. The abundance of meat, bread and beer certainly hasn’t made me any sexier, so what the hell man? Maybe it’s just portion control. Maybe it’s greater emphasis on walking and cycling as means of daily transportation. All I know is young German dudes tend to have awesome bodies. Six pack abs are everywhere, as are broad shoulders and sculpted jawlines. This is why, on a worldwide scale of beauty from 1 to 10 — with 10 being the most beautiful — I am considered a British “7,” an American “6,” and a German “warthog.”

You know what else German guys have going for them? Style. They wear cool clothing that isn’t garish or overtly macho, and their hair tends to be stick-straight, allowing them to shape it into dazzling works of art. They stay ahead of all the latest fads and trends, so overall, their appearance is hip and fresh to the eye. (Or fruity as hell, depending upon your attitude.) Good style seems to be an inherent cultural trait across most of western Europe, but right now it’s definitely working to the advantage of young German males. That, or sexy unicorns are pissing in the groundwater.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, there are exceptions to every rule; not every young guy you meet here is going to be devastatingly handsome… but most of them will. Christ, with all the moussed hair, trendy jeans, blessed height and Olympian physiques, living in Germany is like being trapped inside one huge boyband. So if you’re into pretty boys, come on over; you’ll have a mouthful of beautifully shorn scrotum before you even leave the airport.

#2: German Dudes Are Smart

 -- Image Credit: Johan Bichel Lindegaard ( -- Subject to CC 2.0 License. Adjusted for contrast.

“Oh, well you’re just the whole package, aren’t you… you NERD.” — Image Credit: Johan Bichel Lindegaard ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Adjusted for contrast.

Alright, look — there are stupid people in every country, even in Germany — but it is important to note my wife and I do not make a habit of associating with knuckle draggers. Instead, we gravitate toward Germans who tend to be educated, well-traveled and able to consume alcohol in social situations without winding up tasered senseless and thrown into the back of a cop car. We’re arrogant snobs, is what I’m saying, so please keep this in mind as I make another sweeping generalization about the young men of northern Germany.

First of all, most of them are bilingual. They start learning English in the 3rd grade, and I know this because I have the incredible misfortune of living right next to a primary school. Every morning I get to hear these little nerds singing English nursery rhymes while I’m trying to work:

TEACHER: “The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout…”

SCHOOL KIDS: “The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout…”


Anyway, their language studies continue right on up through high school, and even if they don’t pursue it any further, they’re exposed to English on a regular basis through TV, movies and music. Hell, most of my German friends even speak a limited amount of some additional and totally unnecessary language, like French. Does this automatically make them smarter? Hell no, but I triple-dog-dare you to try and find a stupid polylinguist. Something about forcing the brain to switch between languages makes it more flexible and dynamic. I believe this is because a language isn’t just a bunch of words; it’s a different way of thinking. Regularly alternating the way you think is going to make you a more interesting person, if not outright more intelligent. So when you’re enjoying pillow talk with your new German lover, not only will he be able to understand your every word, but he will probably have something insightful to say just as soon as you remove that ball gag from his mouth.

The German dude you choose to lay will probably have spent a great deal of time at university as well, attaining both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. See, higher education is of great importance in Germany, and college is virtually free — the key word here being virtually. My wife and I were once walking along Georgstraße in Hannover when we stumbled across a huge group of angry college students protesting against rising tuition fees in Lower Saxony. This was a few years ago, so I can’t remember the exact amount, but tuition had risen from around €500 euros per semester to like €525 euros. I laughed so hard I peed a little. And get this: Just a year or two later, Lower Saxony abolished tuition fees altogether. As an American, I just can’t wrap my head around free or even affordable tuition. Of course, I also can’t wrap my head around half my monthly paycheck going to the taxes it takes to cover said tuition, but still, it’s a pretty awesome system. It encourages high school graduates to go learn a thing or two about the world and stop being such narcissistic little shit twisters.

In general, Germans tend to be very well-traveled — especially the younger generations. They’re encouraged to embark on school exchange programs and spend a year or two at foreign universities. Then, after they’ve returned to Germany and entered the workforce, they are often sent back overseas for internships and additional job training — especially in the science, engineering and medical fields. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet a well-traveled individual who isn’t at least a little bit more sophisticated than an isolated one. As a result, German men of sexable age tend to be open-minded, sensitive and respectful of other cultures. So throw a condom on that gentle jet-setter, because he’s probably crushed ass from Sacramento to Singapore.

#3: German Dudes Are Humble


“You’re so money and you don’t even know it.” — Photo Credit:
Daniel Zedda ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

In my experience, German guys tend to be extremely modest. I have no doubt there are a few egotistical shitbags running around over here, but all the ones I’ve spoken with practically trip over themselves when you pay them a compliment. And even I have to admit — it’s pretty adorable. See, I come from America; our culture is fueled by unchecked egotism and blind self-confidence. Things like bragging, cockiness, and inexplicably high self-esteem are so normal they make me homesick. But over here? No way. Good luck telling a German guy he’s smart or good-looking; he’ll probably black out and walk straight into the nearest wall.

Maybe it’s inherited guilt from the two world wars. Maybe it’s the rather intense secondary school system, or maybe it’s lack of praise or basic affection during childhood, I don’t know, but it seems like German people are reluctant to show any kind of national pride whatsoever. (Unless you’re talking about soccer. Then, apparently, they’re allowed to go apeshit.)

What I’m saying is, there’s still a lot of guilt over here, and that makes for a dating pool of young men who tend to be more reserved, less aggressive and way more grateful for the sex you’re having with them.

#4: German Dudes Aren’t Prude


On an unrelated note: This picture makes me laugh every time I see it. — Photo Credit: Jens karlsson ( Subject to CC 2.0 License.

When it comes to sex, we Americans are very prude. Oh sure, we’ll watch some action star cut an entire village in half with a machine gun, but a pair of tits on a billboard? None of us would get to work safely. This stems from our Puritan ancestry and the fact that, as a country, we’re still in our adolescence. We’re like a bunch of teenagers giggling in Sex Ed class: “Tee hee hee! The teacher said, ‘labia.’ ”

The country of Germany, on the other hand, is old as balls. Sure, the German Empire was formed in 1871 by the Prussians, but Germania has existed since the time before that one goody two-shoes got his ass crucified. And because Germany is right in the middle of Europe — greatly influenced by all of the countries surrounding it — its modern-day culture is very difficult to define. What I can say, however, is that it is old, and with age comes maturity. Here are a few German cultural traits regarding sex I can confirm, having observed them with my own two eyeballs:

  • Public Displays of Affection (PDA) – From city parks to beaches, German people give exactly zero fucks about being seen making out. And I don’t just mean sexy young people; I’m also talking about old people slapping waddles together like a couple of hungry sea lions.
  • Nudity – Not only are nude saunas commonplace in Germany, but so is nudity in advertising and entertainment. I try and act cool whenever I see a breast on a poster for skin cream, but inside I’m dancing around like a schoolboy: “Titties, titties titties!”
  • Compartmentalization – That very same German dude who just got done playing tonsil hockey at the park and watching sweat drop off his nards with a bunch of other guys in the sauna will then walk back into work, adjust his tie and give a presentation to the executive team without missing a beat. This is compartmentalization is action; everything has its place, but what’s cool in one place is not necessarily cool in another. They keep that shit separate.
  • Interracial Coupling – I love seeing people of different races get together, and I see it a lot more often here in Germany than I ever did in America. Sure, racism and prejudice exist here too, but it’s not stopping these crazy kids from mixing up their crayons.
  • Prostitution – I’ve talked about prostitution in Germany before, but I’ll say it again; it’s legal here, and it’s no big deal. Personally, I think prostitution should be legal everywhere. Why does the government care if you want to choke yourself while some chick dips your nuts in coffee? I think it’s awesome.

Now imagine a young German man growing up in this environment, where sex is accepted more openly and with greater honesty; he may not necessarily be a porn star, but he won’t have as many hangups about sex as your average American. Can’t you just picture the relaxed, easy confidence of a lover so perfectly bred? The only problem is German guys fail to realize how cool they really are; they don’t understand their casual attitude toward sex is both surprising and refreshing to Americans. That’s why in Germany you’re so likely to run into a tall, smart, handsome bastard with the soul of a virgin nerd.

#5: German Dudes Are Uncut


“Get that awful wiener out of my face.” — Image Credit: barockschloss ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License

Oh, did you think this was going to be one long ass-kissing session? Like I wanted to endear myself to the young male population of Germany by listing all the ways in which they rule? No. This is the part where I cut them right back down to size. (Tee hee!)

So here’s the deal: I make a real point out of not looking at other dude’s junk while I’m showering at the gym, but it’s impossible to avoid entirely, especially if you tend to walk with your head down, like I do. If I exit the shower area right as another guy is entering, I will see, in exactly the following order: feet, knees, cock, nipples, face, and then it’s “Oh, excuse me,” as I step aside, thinking, what in the fuck is with all the uncut birds in this country?

I know circumcision is not a part of Christian religious tradition, and Germany is lousy with Catholics and Protestants, so maybe that explains why it isn’t so popular here. But then, America has a shit-ton of Christians too, and most of us had our birds cut while we were still fresh out of the womb. So I’m not sure about the reasons, but circumcision is a surprisingly divisive issue. To cut or not to cut: That is the question. For some it’s about the look. For others it’s about sensitivity, cleanliness or simply not wanting to cut off parts of their baby. And according to the half-assed google search I just did, circumcision seems to be on the decline — at least in America. There are tons of reasons for this — all of which are hotly debated — but none of them matter at all, because uncircumcised dicks are fucking disgusting.

I had my foreskin hacked off as a baby, and I’m glad as hell. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Every time I go to the bathroom I think to myself, yeah, that there is some fine lookin’ denim pork. Now, does it make logical sense that an altered body part should look better than a natural one? Of course not. But still, we pierce our ears, right? We get tattoos, shave our pubes, wear makeup and lift weights to try and achieve a physique with which we were not genetically gifted. Hell, in some cultures they scar themselves from head to toe or wear rings around their necks until they can’t support the weight of their own heads. These are all examples of cultural body modification for the sake of beauty, and when a certain type of beauty is popular for long enough, it becomes the standard. (Hey, I don’t make the rules, I’m just playing by them.)

Sure, uncircumcised dongs will likely come back into fashion, as will big hair, quaaludes and 1970s porno pubes, but I for one will be crying the day that happens. (Except for the quaaludes part. Those sound awesome.) But if you want an uncut penis and you want it right now, come to Germany, because they don’t send their soldiers to war without a helmet.


Although I have strongly recommended throughout this post that you have sex with a German dude, just remember to use protection. Your future spouse is not going to want to hear about the STD you caught in Munich when you were nearly slapped to death in a nutsack hurricane. And you definitely don’t want to explain you have herpes because of that one summer in Berlin spent drowning in penis.


It’s real simple: German dudes are awesome. When compared to the rest of the knuckle-dragging primates of the world, the great apes of Germany score a record-setting 5 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany
Oh, I’m sure many of you will disagree with this assessment — most of all the guilt-ridden, self-loathing Germans themselves — so I cordially invite all of you to light up my comments section like a flaming dildo.



5 More Weirdly Specific, Totally Irrational Fears and Phobias of an American Expat Living in Germany


“Welcome back to my world of madness.” — Image Credit: DieselDemon ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License — Adjusted for contrast.

Remember that post I wrote a while back about my top 5 totally irrational fears and phobias? It actually started out as a list of 10, but the deadline snuck up on me so fast I had to cut that bitch in half. Here’s the second half…

As human beings, we are subject to certain basic fears. Lots of people are afraid of flying in airplanes or standing in crowded elevators. Others are afraid of things like snakes or spiders. Regardless of their source, our fears serve to keep us away from danger and remind us that no matter what we achieve as a species — no matter how tall our skyscrapers, how ingenious our inventions, or how far we explore into outer space — we’re really all just a bunch of scared, shit-slinging zoo monkeys.

Chances are, you and I share all the same phobias — only I have a few more. And by a few more, I mean supplemental fears which are not only freakish in their specificity, but also absurd and unnecessary. These are fears I have always had, but which have grown far worse since I began my life as an American expat in Germany:

Phobia #5: Eye Drops


“Is that innocent saline or battery acid? I bet it’s battery acid.” — Image Credit: National Eye Institute ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Look, I’m an artist and a writer. I’m naturally protective of my eyes and my hands because, without them, I wouldn’t be able to make a living; I’d just be a blind, handless trophy husband. That’s why I recoil in comedic fashion whenever something comes close to my eyes, like umbrella spikes, pencils, butter knives, hot dogs… basically anything shaped like a dick.

I refuse to wear contact lenses based solely upon my fear of anything touching my eyes. And you know that machine that gauges the pressure inside your eyeballs by shooting a tiny puff of air into them? That thing makes my eyes water before the air hits them, and then when it does, I flinch so hard I shake the whole table. Scares the shit out of the optometrist.

But you know what really sucks for me now that I live in Germany? Eye drops. I never had to use them before, but the pollen over here is both foreign and plentiful, resulting in spring and summer allergies so strong I am forced to use them if I want to open my eyes in the morning.

Of course, I can’t really say I “use” eye drops; it’s more like I hold the evil little bottle over my eye and stare right at the droplet, waiting in agonizing anticipation for it to fall. Then, when it does, I slam my eye closed so it splatters all over my eyelids and runs down my face like a porno. The only part of the fluid which ever enters my eye is that which has been caught in my eyelashes, so my use of eye drops is really more of a daily accident I now call routine.

Phobia #4: Crowds of People


“Raise your hand if you’re emotionally unstable! …You? I knew it.” — Image Credit: Stéphane Gallay ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Good Christ I hate being around large crowds of people. Concerts, festivals, conventions — it doesn’t matter; they’re too bright, too loud, and they present way too many social factors for me to consider all at once. And they have so much potential energy! God, it freaks me out. What if they all got mad? Like, at the same time? The way I look at things, every crowd I see is just one emotional trigger away from becoming a riot.

Let’s say there’s a fire; am I the only one who considers the sheer impossibility of so many people passing through the fire exits simultaneously? Forget the flames and the smoke — you know you’re gonna get trampled to death first. And what are the odds at least one person in any given crowd has a gun? In Germany, that number is thankfully much lower than in the States, but still, even here, I’m certain at least one dude is packing heat. And how can you possibly relax when, as a statistical certainty, some small percentage of the crowd has a serious mental illness? Clearly I have one, but all I’m gonna do is talk shit about it on this here blog. What about the violent schizophrenics? Hell, the drug addicts? It only takes one tweaker to ruin your day. That’s all I’m saying.

Okay, I feel like I’m not getting my point across. Like, I can’t possibly explain just how fragile a crowd of people can be. Imagine you’re at an Elton John concert. You’re drunk. You’re having an awesome time. Then some asshole decides to start screaming right in the middle of “Tiny Dancer.” A high-pitched wail which pierces right through the music. No reason, just some crazy dude losing his shit. Even a short yelp will put the entire crowd on edge. But a prolonged scream? At the very least people will be alarmed and start looking for the nearest exit. Hell, Sir Elton himself might even stop playing the piano until security got there. But that sort of thing almost never happens. Why? Because most of the time we all behave ourselves. But that’s just the thing: It all hangs in such delicate balance! I simply cannot relax. Large crowds of people both frighten and exhaust me.

And this fear has only worsened here in Germany, what with all the Christmas markets, fairs and festivals going on. There’s a major social gathering going down in every German city, all year ’round. There is no escape, especially when your spunky German wife insists upon attending at least one of these powder kegs per year. God dammit, just thinking about it now has me reaching for the Xanax. “Oh yes, you beautiful, wonderful little pill… take Daddy away from the bad thoughts.”

Phobia #3: Things Falling from the Sky


“It’s not beautiful, it’s menacing.” — Image Credit: Crysis Rubel ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Do you ever look up at the sky when it’s sunny, bright blue and cloudless, and think to yourself, “Wow, there is absolutely no ceiling there. A little atmosphere, sure, but really nothing between my soft, fragile skull and the chaotic universe beyond?” The Earth is being pounded by meteorites all the time. Just look at the Moon, with all its scars and pock marks. Over the years, that thing has taken a real pounding, and the universe is not a gentle lover. No, the universe is a dangerous, violent bitch, just flinging shit in all directions. When I look up at the sky, I cannot stop thinking about which chunk of cosmic space debris has my name written on it.

This fear actually extends to anything dangerous hanging over my head, like construction equipment. The economy in Germany seems to be doing pretty well, so there’s always new construction going on. I can really only speak for Hannover though, when I say I can’t walk across the Kröpcke without passing beneath a lot of scaffolding, a few ladders, a crane and a bucket full of bricks. How qualified is that dopey bastard in the hardhat to be hoisting a slab of concrete over my head? Not nearly enough, I say, and that’s why I pass beneath construction zones as quickly as possible, shuddering and reciting a silent warning: Motherfucker, if you drop that thing on my head I will haunt you so hard. I will haunt you until you die.

Phobia #2: Doorknobs


“Laugh all you want, but that thing is covered in herpes.” — Image Credit: r. nial bradshaw ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

It may surprise you to know I do not have OCD. I don’t wash my hands a thousand times a day or anything, but I do hate touching doorknobs — especially the ones in public restrooms. I will seriously pull my sleeve up over my hand and use it to open the door rather than allow that sullied metal to touch my skin. My wife just laughs and shakes her head when she catches me doing this. Oh sure, it’s cute now, but imagine seeing me do this as an 80-year-old man; you’d be forced to assume I’ve gone senile. “That poor old bastard — his brain is just riddled with dementia. He probably wipes poo on the mirror too…”

No, you assholes, I just don’t like having dirty hands. I keep them clean and my nails trimmed down to the skin, the way God intended. My problem with touching doorknobs — or really any object utilized by the general public — stems from my lack of basic knowledge in the subject of biology. How many germs are on the average doorknob? What is their half-life? Is it possible for germs to infect one another, so you’ve got the flu, filled with measles, filled with AIDS, like a Russian nested doll?

Screw it. I just avoid the problem entirely. Hell, with my sleeve-over-the-hand technique, I can urinate in a public bathroom without touching anything but my own pink wiener. And since my hands are always clean — and my wiener is easily the cleanest thing on earth — why bother washing my hands at all? My hands are probably cleaner because I touched my wiener.

How has this phobia worsened as a result of living in Germany? Well, my wife and I don’t need a car. We use our bikes in combination with Germany’s awesome public transportation system. And if you’ve ever ridden an U-Bahn train, you know it’s impossible to do so without touching a few door-open buttons, or grasping one of those straps or poles for standing passengers. This is where my sleeve technique fails me; if I try to hold onto a shiny metal pole with a layer of slippery cotton in my fist, I will lose my grip and fall down onto the even filthier train floor. Now I’m being laughed at and infected with viral hepatitis.

Also, on the S-Bahn, where you sometimes have to climb a few steps, it’s expected you help women with strollers board or exit the train. This means, in order to be a proper gentleman, you have to touch the handlebar at the front of the stroller… right below the filthy baby. You know the little demon farts all over that thing. Just all day long. Probably does it on purpose.

Phobia #1: Russians


“Raise your hand if you’re having an awesome time! …No one? …Anyone? …Bueller?” — Image Credit: Brandon ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

There are cool people in every country and there are shitty people in every country. We’re all just human beings in the end, so I try not to make generalized statements about anyone based upon nationality. However, I’m gonna go ahead and do that right now by admitting Russian people scare the shit out of me.

I’m talking about Russian nationals; the ones born and raised in the Motherland. Men and women. Young and old. I am equally afraid of them all. Why? Because of Rocky IV. Just kidding. It’s because 99.9% of my experience with Russians — in America and in Germany — has been scary.

When I was younger, my friend and I were accosted by a Russian man wielding one of those huge, round bottles of wine that cost like $2. I once dated a Russian woman who turned out to be an unapologetic gold digger (but she was hot, so fuck it, right?). Her mother was a mail order bride — clearly miserable — with visible disdain for her American husband. I knew another guy — this one closer to my age — who married a Russian mail order bride and she absolutely hated his guts. (To be fair, I didn’t like much him either, but this young woman would later go on to commit manslaughter by driving over a hobo. I am not joking.) I listened as a Russian contractor told one of my co-workers he could custom-build a 2,500 sq.ft., 2-storey, 4-bedroom house for her under $100,000 dollars — and he whispered it to her, so you just know he was full of shit. That, or the materials were stolen. Anyway, a few years later I had two Russian men knock on my front door and try and intimidate me into moving the fence behind my house, claiming it was over the property line — and they wanted me to move it within 24 hours. (It was totally over the property line, and I was legally required to move the fence, but my point is they were dicks about it.) Here in Germany, I’ve seen countless drunk Russian men on the U-Bahn hassling people and outright daring them to say something about it. I went to a party last summer and there was a Russian guy there — 6′ 7″ and built like a brick shithouse — who, upon hearing I was from America, tipped his head back to swallow a shot of vodka and declared: “I do not like America.” Holy shit, nothing makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end like a slurred Russian accent. Sounds like they’ve got a mouthful of marbles.

So I’ve had a bunch of unfortunate encounters with Russian people. Is it fair to judge them all based upon my own personal experience? Of course not… but in general, Russians do seem pissed. Like, pee-yaa-HISSED. Maybe it’s the long winters. Maybe it’s the decades of economic struggle. Maybe it’s because they’ve got a James Bond villain for a president. I don’t know.

But now I want to talk about that 0.1% of my experience which wasn’t scary. Like the time shortly after I arrived in Germany and began my mandatory German language course. One of the other students was a woman from Russia. She was maybe 5 feet tall, in her late 60s, married with kids and grand kids, and she had — pound for pound — the biggest tits I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously. I was concerned about her lower back, hauling those sweater puppies around all day. Jesus Christ. Anyway, she was smart, nice, and she took the class seriously. She even helped me sign up for the next class after the school lost my file. She was by far my favorite person there.

Then I went to a different language school, where I met another awesome Russian. This time it was a dude, in his mid-30s. He also took his language studies seriously, but he had a very chill, very subtle demeanor about him, and I greatly enjoyed his dry sense of humor. After our teacher had introduced the theme for the day — say, wild boars posing a serious threat to motorists in Berlin (this was an actual theme, by the way) — we would be asked to discuss it together in small groups. My Russian buddy turned to me and asked, “Are you threatened by wild pigs in America?” I laughed, shaking my head. He then turned back around, saying, “In Russia, we are more threatened by bears.” I loved that guy.

Here’s my point: I am afraid of Russian nationals, but I still reserve a very narrow, very jaded place in my heart for the nice ones. So, Nostrovia! (And I know I spelled that wrong, you angry sons of bitches.)


Given the oddity of my phobias — especially where they have been exacerbated by expat life in Germany — I must award them with a solid 4 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany
This is not a perfect score, however. If you can top any one of my fears in terms of overall strangeness or potential to derail you as a human being, the comment section is wide open.

I look forward to hearing from you.


P.S. If you’d like to read the first half of this post, you can find it here: The Top 5 Weirdly Specific, Totally Irrational Fears and Phobias of an American Expat Living in Germany.



The Top 5 Weirdly Specific, Totally Irrational Fears and Phobias of an American Expat Living in Germany


“…and THIS, children, is the face of insanity!” — Image Credit: Okko Pyykkö ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

We’re all afraid of something — spiders, heights, confined spaces — these are all common phobias. And while they scare the everloving shit out of me too, I have an additional set of fears which are far weirder and less rational than the rest. Fears I have always had, but which have been made far worse since I became an American expat living in Germany.

Phobia #5: Getting Lint in My Pee-Hole


“Things way flow out, but NEVER in.” — Image Credit: Marc Diego ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Few things are more sacred than my urinary meatus. It is the very keyhole behind which my soul is locked, and therefore, never to be sullied. Still, I have an intense fear of getting lint — or any other foreign object — lodged inside it. I cringe at the very thought. In fact, I am cringing super hard right now.

I suspect this fear stems from a moment in my childhood when I was at the playground near my house. Like most playgrounds, this one sat atop a thick layer of bark dust. I recall finding an unusually long piece of bark dust, then proceeding to run around swinging it over my head like a pirate. Soon enough, I needed to climb the play structure in order to better command my swabbies, but I only had one free hand. Thinking I was the smartest pirate ever, I jammed the bark dust into the waistband of my shorts and started climbing. By the time I got to the top, what was once a sword had exploded into a thousand merry splinters, one of which worked its way into my tiny piss hole. “Yarr, Matey! Batten down the hatches and–HOLY FUCK IT STIIIIIIINGS!”

What does this have to do with Germany? Well, I refuse to sleep naked. You see, occasionally, the summer months in Germany are actually hot, and air conditioning is a very rare indulgence in this country. Even though it is obviously the greatest thing ever, Germans tend to see air conditioning as wasteful and, in some cases, even unhealthy. Since my wife and I don’t want to be the only assholes on the block with an A/C unit sticking out the window, we must escape the heat through a pair of oscillating fans and our own nakedness. But therein lies the problem: As I’ve already explained, I am irrationally afraid something will find its way into my glue chute. That I’ll roll over while I’m asleep and crush my boner headfirst into a pile of sock lint, resulting in a massive infection and a trip to the emergency room, where my inflamed bongus starts shooting out whole socks like a malfunctioning clothes dryer.

Phobia #4: Sitting with My Back to the Door


“Someone is sneaking up behind me right now. I KNOW it.” — Image Credit: Ralph Daily ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I’m just a nerd who sits at home all day making pretty on the computer. I am not a secret agent. I am not a criminal, nor am I an assassin, so realistically, no one is out to get me. I have absolutely no reason to fear having my back to the door in public places, and yet, it still bugs the holy Christ out of me. Restaurants, classrooms, offices — really anywhere I must remain for longer than a few seconds — are all spaces in which I am compelled to position myself so I can see exactly who is coming through the door at all times. Sure, I can white-knuckle my way through dinner at a sushi restaurant with a steady flow of foot traffic behind me, but I’ll look over my shoulder so many times my wife will eventually throw down her chopsticks and switch seats with me just so we can both relax.

This anxiety is all about control. I have no control over people when I can’t see them, and that makes me feel vulnerable. When I can see them, I feel as if I at least have a chance to protect myself and my wife from danger — even if I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell. Like, if some halfwit marches into a cafe and lights the place up with an assault rifle, at the very least I’m going to throw a salt shaker at him. Maybe even a dinner plate or something. Bang, bang, bang… “Fuck youuuuuuuu!” SMASH! …NEWS FLASH… American Expat in Germany Saves Dozens of Lives by Incapacitating Gunman with Fennel Caprese Salad.

What does this have to do with Germany? Well, public transportation in German cities is pretty sweet. My wife and I don’t need a car; we ride our bikes, take the bus or hop on the U-Bahn. You know what sucks about the U-Bahn though? There’s always a door behind you. Unless you want to stand up the entire time at the front of the train with your back pressed against the driver’s booth, staring the other passengers in the eye like some creepy homunculus, people are going to be entering and exiting right behind you. It sucks, and that’s why I always ride the U-Bahn with a tiny canister of pepper spray in my pocket — my thumb hovering nervously over the button — just waiting to ruin someone’s day.

Phobia #3: Drain Cleaner


“Pictured: The burning tears of Gomorrah.” — Image Credit: Mike Mozart ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Chemical drain cleaners are scary as hell. Have you ever used one, like Drano, Liquid-Plumr or Rid-X? God damn, that shit will eat through anything, and it’s not exactly discerning; It’ll burn through the wad of soap scum clogging your shower drain just as easily as it will your wrinkled scrotum. With this in mind, I handle drain cleaner like unstable dynamite; delicately tiptoeing my way through the house, keeping the bottle at arm’s length and my face turned slightly away while wearing an expression of dainty horror. Basically, like the world’s biggest pussy.

I am deathly afraid of getting drain cleaner on my skin, and I am 100% convinced it will somehow, magically, wind up in my eyes and blind me for life. Like, the fear itself is so strong it could blow a fuse in my brain, short out my instinct for self-preservation and replace it with the impulse to pour heinous amounts of acid directly into my eyes and mouth. This, in turn, causes more fear, which makes the impulse seem even more real, resulting in a thought loop from which I cannot escape, and proving — once and for all — I have lost my goddamn mind.

How does this relate to Germany? Well, renting houses and apartments — rather than owning them — is much more common in this country. Lots of Germans rent their homes their entire lives, but the universal problem with renters from any country is they rarely care about the place they’re renting. They don’t own it, so fuck it, right? On top of that, cheapskate apartment managers never fix things when they break. You’ve got to handle problems yourself, and that’s where drain cleaner comes into play. See, if your wife has long, sexy German hair like mine does, your shower drain will clog with hairballs at regular intervals throughout the year. This will force you to either buy a plumber’s snake (yeah right, that’s gross) or resort to the use of chemicals. And since my wife has deemed all things pertaining to clogged pipes as “icky” and “a man’s job,” I must regularly face my fear of drain cleaner — or as I have come to call it, “Cowering in Fear of the Devil’s Hot Acid Ejaculate.”

Phobia #2: Dogs


“Oh, how cute! A pretty princess and a handsome gentleman… with razor-sharp knives in their mouths.” — Image Credit: Pets Adviser ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I used to love dogs, man. When I was younger, I had no fear of them whatsoever. But that all changed back in Portland, Oregon, in the mid-2000s, when I made the ingenious decision to try and break up a pit bull fight in my underwear.

You see, I was renting a room in a house owned by a woman with a pit bull. There was another renter living there too, and he also owned a pit bull, but neither of these two idiots had the slightest clue how to raise dogs like these. So, I woke up one Saturday morning to the unmistakable sound of dogs fighting over food in the kitchen, but it wasn’t just the usual snarling and barking; what I heard was two pit bulls trying to kill each other.

Not my problem, I thought to myself, rolling over and pulling the pillow down over my ears. But the bloody murder just got louder and louder, until it was clear one of the dogs was about to die. I jumped out of bed — out of anger and annoyance, not heroism — grabbed the canister of bear mace I kept (and still keep) next to my bed, and walked into the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of thin, blue boxer shorts.

There was dog food, blood and hair all over the kitchen floor, and the woman who owned the house — whom we shall refer to as Muffinbrain McTouchedinthehead — was trying to bodily heft one of the pit pulls up and out the back door. She wasn’t strong enough to pull this off though, especially since the other pit bull had locked its jaws on the dog’s hind leg. I got Muffinbrain’s attention and offered to use the can of mace in my hand, but she insisted I try and pull the second dog away and separate them instead. I don’t know why, but I went ahead and grabbed the dog’s collar and yanked it back. It worked, but stupid goddamn Muffinbrain let her dog get away, and it charged across the kitchen and sank it’s teeth into the second dog’s neck. Of course my fingers were in the way, and to this very day I have the scars to prove it.

Anyway, it was at that moment when I absolutely lost my shit: I was basically naked — my exposed flesh vulnerable from all angles — bleeding and pissed off, so I pulled the safety guard off the canister and bear-maced the holy shit out of pit bull #1. Not yet satisfied, I firehosed pit bull #2 for good measure, then gave them both a few departing shots as I walked back to my room. I got dressed and left the house, but not before seeing Muffinbrain still in the kitchen, coughing and gagging on the atomized pepper spray in the air, and the two pit bulls standing there with vacant looks in their eyes — like nothing happened. In retrospect, I think the mace had temporarily blinded them, but they handled it calmly and professionally, like the purebred assassins they are.

How does this relate to Germany? Well, Germans like to bring their dogs with them everywhere. Restaurants, cafes, department stores… even the U-Bahn. You can’t get away from the filthy little beasts, especially here in Hannover. And every time one gets close to me — even if it’s just a little Pomeranian puffball — I am convinced it will bite me and I must resist the urge to punt that little fucker like a football.

Phobia #1: Young Men


“We cannot be hurt. We cannot die. And together, we will bring an end to all that is good and decent in this world.” — Image Credit: fakeyoursmile ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

I ask you, is there anything more dangerous than a group of bored young men between the ages of 16 and 25? Having been one myself, I can confirm, yes, they are, in fact, the most dangerous species on the planet. (And they stink too, secreting a perpetual musk of assholes and armpits.)

Young men are selfish, loud, rude and oblivious to the people around them. Of course there are exceptions; I’ve met many kind and considerate young men. But the vast majority have brains which are not yet fully developed — like half baked lumps of monkey shit — so they literally cannot imagine how their actions today might result in negative reactions tomorrow. This is why they get obnoxiously drunk, drive too fast, get into fistfights and think of little else beyond finding girls willing to smooch their he-chicken.

What does this have to do with Germany? Well, I must admit, I do feel a bit safer around young German man than I do American ones. This is probably because Germans are far less likely to own guns, but also because they just don’t seem quite so… aggressive. But then you have young, German, frothing-at-the-mouth soccer fans, and being trapped in an U-Bahn car with these drunken idiots after the big game makes me feel about as safe as a fat-tailed gerbil in a sack full of cats. “So, uh, has everyone already eaten today? How about them flea collars, eh? Itch like a real bastard, I bet! Heh heh… oh my God please don’t kill me.”


I have to say, given the morbidly obsessive and wildly irrational specificity of my phobias — especially as they have been exacerbated by life in Germany — I must award them with a solid 4 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany
However, this is not a perfect score: If you think you can top any single one of my fears in terms of overall weirdness or potential to incapacitate you as a human being, the comment section is wiiiiiide open…


P.S. Would you like to read the sequel to this post? Check it out: 5 More Weirdly Specific, Totally Irrational Fears and Phobias of an American Expat Living in Germany


How One American Expat Celebrates the 4th of July Outside the United States

Team-Frankreich-Intermède-Hannover-Internationalen Feuerwerkswettbewerb

“Wait, what day is it again?

How One American Expat Celebrates the 4th of July Outside the United States

An interview with the author of ‘Oh God, My Wife Is German,’ conducted by

Parcel Hero – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1. Why are you a resident in Germany? Where in the US are you from originally?

I am originally from Portland, Oregon, but I moved to Hannover, Germany, in order to be with my wife; a beautiful, smart and (unintentionally) hilarious German woman. With her adorable linguistic mixture of Deutsch and English — better known as Denglish — she often says things like:

“Why does our time on earth have to be limitated?”

“But maybe I can spend money. I am the bread maker now.”


“It is time to get out of the bathtub now… my fingers are getting schrinkled.”

2. How will you be celebrating the 4th of July this year?

To be perfectly honest with you, I generally forget about the 4th of July every year, much like I forget most holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. However, if I should remember it this year, I will spend the evening worrying about the house we own in the States — and the likelihood that it will be swiftly burned to the ground by some mouth-breathing neighbor kid with a popsicle in one hand and a Roman candle in the other.

3. Where will you be celebrating it? (eg: a specific restaurant, party, etc.)

After calling my rental agency and confirming our house has not, in fact, been reduced to smoldering ashes, my wife and I will probably watch A Game of Thrones while eating a pizza and then pass right the fuck out.

4. What do you miss most about ‘home’ on the 4th of July?

I’ll miss the heat. July is generally pretty warm in Portland, but here in northern Germany? You just never know. It could be warm, but it could also be cold or windy — even rainy — because the weather here is always threatening an early return to winter… as if it were designed by Mother Nature herself to gently crush all joy from the German soul, keeping it focused upon the robotic task of producing the world’s finest automobile components.

— Oh God, My Wife Is German.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Expats around the world should check out ParcelHero for international delivery, collected from your door, by the couriers you trust, at

And if you’d like to find out more about life as an American expat in Germany, check out some of our other posts, like this one: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany

Discovering Konya, Turkey: The Top 10 Preconceived Notions Dislodged from My American Brain


Welcome to Konya: City of Tulips, Tourism and Tea (Oh my God, so much tea…)

My wife is German and I am American. We live in Hannover, Germany, and though I’ve learned a lot about Germany over the past couple years, I know virtually nothing about other countries — especially those to the East. I hate flying and I’m a bit of a misanthrope, so in the Spring of 2015, when my wife informed me we would be taking a 1-week trip to Konya, Turkey, my mind was assaulted by a dazzling slideshow of Middle Eastern stereotypes, misconceptions and false expectations — all of which contributed to a borderline panic attack followed by persistent numbing of the testicles.

Before our trip, I could not have found Turkey on a map, and my only real experiences with Turkish people had been here in Germany. (All of which were positive — and that’s a damn good thing — because at 5% of the population, Turks comprise the largest ethnic minority in the country.) Therefore, I am ashamed to admit this — and will deny it vehemently should the subject arise in mixed company — but here is the sum totality of what I expected to find when I arrived in Turkey:

  1. Sand
  2. Heat
  3. Overpopulation
  4. Women wearing veils on their heads
  5. Men calling me an infidel and attacking me with flaming scimitars

In terms of sand, heat and overpopulation, well, that was just my childlike brain transposing Turkey for Egypt — a version of Egypt based entirely upon Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I did see women wearing hijab (veils covering their hair), but obviously I was not attacked by anyone, and not once was I called an infidel. My wife and I have since returned from our trip and I am now sitting in the safety of my home office blogging about it while I should be working, but my pre-trip ignorance went well beyond this initial, fearful, knee-jerk reaction. What follows is a list of the top 10 assumptions I’d made about Konya — and Turkey as a whole — and the resulting knowledge I probably should have had in the first place:

1.) Turkey is in the middle east, right?


“Yeah. No. Sort of. I don’t know.” — Image Credit: The Emirr ( — Subject to CC 3.0 Unported Copyright.

The definition of the term “Middle East” varies wildly depending upon who you ask, but one thing is absolutely, 100% certain: it scares the merry hell out of a lot of Americans. For many, the Middle East is a blanket term for any Muslim country residing to the southeast of western Europe. (You know, where things start to get weird.) But until World War II, Turkey and its neighbors along the Mediterranean were known as the “Near East.”

Since traveling from Germany to Turkey and back, I am of the opinion Turkey is more like a bridge between Europe and the Middle East; a Middle East-Lite, if you will. The flight time from Hannover to Istanbul is only 3 hours, and Turkey and Germany have been flirting with each other since the Ottoman Empire. Hell, Turkey has been negotiating to join the European Union since 2005, so, if anything, I was a little disappointed by how “Middle Eastern” Turkey wasn’t.

2.) Turkish Airlines sucks, I bet.


“I saw the pilot doing his preflight inspection, but maybe I should go ahead and have a look too…”

As I’ve said before, I hate flying. To me, one airline is no different than the next: just a pleasant logo slapped up side a dick-shaped coffin. But I figured Turkish Airlines would suck just a little harder than the rest. I didn’t even have a good reason why; just straight-up judgement — no facts.

You know how, when you see that MADE IN GERMANY stamp on a certain product, you kind of think to yourself, “Well, those Germans probably know what they’re doing…” yet when you see MADE IN CHINA, you just assume it’s a toxic piece of shit? It was kind of like that, only I really didn’t even know Turkish Airlines existed before this trip, so in my mind, it had neither a positive nor a negative reputation — I just wrote the whole company off because I literally knew nothing about it.

Oh, and as it turns out, Turkish Airlines was ranked 5th among the top 100 airlines in the world in 2014. Jesus Christ, they beat the hell out of my beloved Lufthansa (ranked 10th), and KLM was way down there in 32nd place. And as for the airlines of my homeland? Sheeeeeeit: Delta was 49th and American Airlines came in at 89th place. Last place was some company called Kulula, operating out of South Africa. (Let’s all agree not to fly that one.)

3.) Turkey is totally, like, Muslim, isn’t it?


Look at that pointy tower, just stabbing at the sky all day long…

Again, I’m still not really sure about this one. Islam is the largest religion in Turkey, with well over 95% of the population registered as Muslim, but since 1924, the country has been secular and does not recognize any official religion. Of course, all public schools — from elementary to high school — hold mandatory religion classes teaching Islam, so… I guess so.

All I know is, in Konya, I saw a lot of mosques. Those pointy sons of bitches where just everywhere, and each one staggered its call to prayer by a couple minutes so as not to barrage worshippers all at the same time. The effect upon foreigners like me, however, was like being encircled by bullhorns, each one taking a turn blasting my eardrums out my anus.

In retrospect, I think it just seemed like there was a mosque on every block because we specifically visited a bunch of mosques. That, and their pointy towers — or minarets — can be seen from really far away, so they appeared to surround us. As for the Muslim call to prayer, well, in Konya it was actually only 6 times per day. (But still, it was played over loudspeakers, and I hate loud noises, so that shit was truly annoying.)

4.) Muslims in Turkey are super extreme, right? Just like in those other scary countries?


“I see you there, you little religious fanatic…”

I can only speak for the city of Konya on this one, and judging by the dozen or so friends we made there, I can safely say no, no one seemed radical or even particularly conservative regarding their faith. A couple of our friends would just slink off once or twice a day for a couple minutes, then rejoin the group. I seriously thought they were using the bathroom or taking a smoke break or something. They were like prayer ninjas. One of our best friends said she didn’t even bother with mosques; she just prayed at home — once in the morning and once in the evening.

But you know what I liked best about the way I saw Islam being practiced there? It was subtle. Yes, the calls to prayer were obnoxious, but the people were super chill about their religious beliefs. They didn’t even talk about religion unless I asked some stupid question, like:

073-tile-mosaic-allahME: “Hey, what’s with that wacky symbol I keep seeing on all the mosques?”

TURKISH FRIEND: “From right to left, it reads, ‘Allah.’

ME: “Yep. Shoulda seen that one coming.”

5.) Aren’t women totally subjugated in Turkey?

This is a tough one. It would seem the rights of women are far more respected in Turkey than in countries like India, but two things still gave me pause:


“I love you honey, but this thing on my head itches like a bitch.” — Image Credit: HENG FU MING ( — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright

Many women still wear the hijab, or traditional headscarves.
Muslim women wear hijab for lots of reasons, and not all of them are religious. Sometimes it’s just tradition or the style of a particular area. What I don’t like is when women are required to wear them — especially not when it’s done for the sake of men. If a guy wants his wife to hide some aspect her beauty, I immediately suspect that dude of having a little wiener.

Interestingly, head coverings were banned in Turkish universities, libraries, public buildings and government buildings until late 2013. The ban has since been lifted, yet roughly half of Turkish women still cover their heads for religious or cultural reasons. In the big cities, like Istanbul and Ankara, most women actually don’t cover their heads at all. In Konya, for every woman I saw wearing the hijab, there was one standing right next to her who did not. Either way, it seemed like there was no pressure to wear one, and women were free to dress however they liked. (Hell, they could have gone completely topless, if anyone had been interested in my opinion.)

075B-mevlana-mosque-muslim-women-praying-hijab 075C-mevlana-mosque-men-praying-islam-muslim

Women are separated from men during worship.
The idea behind separating women from men inside of mosques has to do with distraction during prayer. Diversions, especially those of a potentially sexual nature, are thought to hinder both men and women, and distance them from Allah. This results in a tradition where the men pray up front, and the women pray while hidden behind a wall.

I respect the religious traditions of all people, so long as they don’t include hurting anyone, but this one still bugs me a little. It figuratively and literally places women in a position of secondary importance — at least to my American sensibilities — and I know for damn sure my German wife wouldn’t stand for it:

ME: “Honey, I don’t feel close enough to God when I can see you in my peripheral vision. Please go behind that wall with the rest of the ladies.”

THE WIFE: “Good idea. You’re gonna need to pray really hard for a new wife.”

6.) What’s with all the Whirling Dervishes in Konya?


“Oh, I get it. They’re just really creepy clones.”

The Whirling Dervishes — more accurately known as the Mevlevi Order — were outlawed in 1925 by the Turkish Republic, and survive today as a nonpolitical organization for cultural history. The twirling performances of the Mevlevi have since become a big tourist draw, especially in Istanbul and Konya.

The Mevlevi believe in performing their dhikr (Islamic devotional acts) in the form of a twirling dance known as the Sama. This dance represents a spiritual ascent through the mind and through love, literally turning toward truth as the follower abandons his ego and arrives at the “Perfect.” Apparently, the dancer then returns from his spiritual journey as one who has attained a higher level of perfection and is able to love and be of better service to creation as a whole. (We Americans achieve this exact same state by rubbing one out to internet porn and reaching for a cold beer.)

I’ll be real honest with you; except for these statues in the Mevlana Museum, we didn’t see a single Whirling Dervish while we were there. Why, you might ask? Because in Konya, they only perform on Saturdays — exactly the day we arrived in and departed from Turkey.

Next time, you dizzy dancers. Next time…

7.) What are those weird rock formations? Anthills or something?


“Come closer, foreigners, for the Termite Queen demands sacrifice.”

This would be Göreme National Park, home of the Rock Sites of Cappadocia. The Cappadocians (later known as the Cappadocian Greeks) actually lived inside these caves before the time of Herodotus, so we’re talking in the 400s BC here. Early Christian frescoes decorate the insides, and I’m sure archeologists find them very interesting, but I gotta say… if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. That said, it’s easy to forget there was a time when being Christian meant somebody was probably trying to kill you.

Cappadocia contains several underground cities, like the Kaymaklı Underground City, which was used as a hiding place before it was chill to be Christian. You’ll find all kinds of very creative traps inside, like large round stones to block doors and holes in the ceiling through which defenders could drop spears upon invading armies. (Like a child’s drawing of just the coolest dungeon ever.)


The crazy mountains, hills and “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia were formed when volcanic eruptions blanketed the area with lava. Wind and water eroded everything except the isolated pinnacles you see today, many of which look exactly like giant horse dongs.

067-urgup-fairy-chimneys-turkey-dicks 068-urgup-fairy-chimneys-turkey-penises

8.) Isn’t alcohol illegal there? Great. This trip is gonna suck.


“Here’s your last beer for a week, Sir.”

The consumption of alcohol is prohibited within the Islamic faith, but to my surprise, I learned alcohol isn’t actually illegal in Turkey. However, according to one of our Turkish friends, it is a huge pain in the ass to find. Supposedly there are a few stores and restaurants which sell it, and apparently you can arrange to have alcohol at special events, but I sure as hell didn’t see any hooch in Konya.

And you know what? It wasn’t necessary. We had an awesome time. But having never visited an effectively dry city before, I noticed two interesting phenomena:

  1. Omnipresent Smoking
  2. Polite Conversation

“Forget cancer and emphysema — these things will break your joystick.”

Holy Christ do they smoke a lot of cigarettes in Konya. Especially the younger men. Never before have I seen so many packs of swarthy youths — all dressed to the nines — standing around chain smoking cigarettes. Just strutting around, gabbing endlessly, hoping to catch some young woman’s eye. They’re like strutting peacocks with absolutely nothing better to do on a Saturday night than suck coffin nails and look dashing.

As for polite conversation, this was something I noticed only after going out to dinner in Konya a few times; we met up with our friends, walked into the restaurant sober, and walked out of the restaurant sober — our bellies full and our heads clear. This meant everybody stayed nice and polite. No risky jokes. No swearing. In an odd way, sober conversation feels a little less honest than one had over a few drinks, because everyone has their impulses under control. People are little less themselves. On the other hand, sober conversation is generally of greater value, because people’s thoughts aren’t overly emphatic. There’s nuance and insight to be gleaned. So maybe, just maybe, a little bit of inhibition is a good thing.

Then again, beer rules, so here’s to you, Konya. Prost!

9.) Do they really drink that much tea in Turkey?


“One more glass and I’m definitely gonna hurl.”

YES. Oh my God yes. In Konya, we drank a lot of çay (pronounced Chai), which is a black tea, though it appears dark red when served in traditional Turkish glasses. It’s also served with cubes of beet sugar and a tiny spoon. (I heard it was a compliment in Konya to loudly clink your spoon inside the glass as you stir it, so I made sure to clink the holy hell out of mine.)

I saw people drinking tea at all hours of the day, but especially after lunch and dinner. In fact, if you order one glass of tea, you’re pretty much obligated to drink 3 or 4, because they’re gonna keep parading the stuff out until you do. And if you’re like me — a nonsmoker with no access to alcohol and precious little to contribute to any given conversation — there’s really nothing else to do, so you’re gonna keep right on drinking those little cups of tea until you barf.

I kept asking people if there was actually any caffeine in the tea, and the answer seemed to vary from person to person. What I gathered, by the end of our trip, was that what we were drinking contained no true caffeine, but rather natural and/or herbal stimulants of some sort. Of course, this was concluded through a massive language barrier, so for all I know, we could have been drinking hot goat piss.

10.) Do they have real toilets in Konya?


“Nevermind. I’ll just hold it for the next 7 days.”

It depends upon your definition of “toilet,” but if you mean the sitting down, flushing kind, the answer to this one is: sometimes. I saw a lot of stalls like the one in this picture — squat toilets — where you perch yourself over a simple hole in the floor, drop your stink nuggets, then use the pitcher and faucet to rinse your shame away. I also saw stalls with holes like this one, but with running water and a flushing mechanism. And of course I saw a few Western-style flush toilets too. It depends where you are. Posh restaurants in the middle of downtown Konya are more likely to have Western-style toilets, but little villages on the outskirts of town? Oh, you’re squatting. And if there’s no toilet paper, just pray there’s running water to use when you’re done, because you’ll be using your left hand to clean your sweet little cinnamon ring.

I think my wife used a squat toilet exactly one time in Konya, and only to go pee. Still, she was not at all happy about it when she came out of the bathroom. She was even less happy after regaling me with her experience, only to have me shrug my shoulders and say, “Hey, when in Rome…”

Now, you may be asking yourself if I used a squat toilet while we were in Konya, and the answer is, no; my bowels have the ability to power down like a cowardly robot when confronted by unfamiliar surroundings. But the second I got back to our hotel room? Oh my God. Fireworks.



“Would I like another glass of tea? Oh, no thank y–aaaaand you’re giving it to me anyway.”

I can’t speak for any other cities in Turkey, but I do know one thing for sure: Konya rules. You should definitely visit this place. It’s beautiful. We had a fantastic time, saw amazing sights and learned a lot, like how to do Konya’s traditional spoon dance, and the fact that we really like ayran — the national Turkish beverage consisting of cold yogurt, water and salt. (The yogurt is pretty gamey, and it might even make you gag the first time it hits your tonsils, but you’ll learn to love it like a porn star.)


“Here comes the money shot.”

Of most importance, however, are the Turkish friends we made. My wife and I can tell already some of them will be lifelong friends. Now, I know there are exceptions to every rule, and jerks can be found in every country of the planet, but I’m gonna go ahead and make a sweeping generalization anyway: There’s just something inherently warm, friendly and inviting about Turkish people. They’re nice as hell, and for some inexplicable reason, they love Germans. And that’s really the way to my heart: Be nice to my wife, and you’ve got me as a friend for life.


Thank you, Konya. We love you.


If you would like to read another post regarding our international travels, check this one out: German-American Couple Visits the North Sea, Denmark and a Whole Hell of a Lot of Sheep

Culture Shock in Germany: An American Expat Is Horrified by His Discovery of German ‘Schreber Gardens’


“And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod…” — Photo Credit: Patrik Tschudin ( — Subject to CC 2.0 Generic Copyright.

Dear Germany,

I have a confession to make.

When I first arrived at the Hannover airport back in 2012, my wife met me at the security gate, we picked up my luggage and boarded the S5 train on our way toward our new home. About a mile or two outside the city, I saw a vast wasteland of the most depressing houses on earth; tiny little shacks — too small even to hold a car — complete with miniature windows, flagpoles, chain-link fences, yards and gardens.

“My God,” I whispered to my wife, barely containing the tear which threatened to spill from my eye, “those poor, poor people…”

I marveled at the thought of living in such a confined space. Would the toilet be right next to your head as you slept at night? What about running water? A kitchen? Heat during winter? Holy Christ, are people raising children in those things?

I was disgusted by the idea a city like Hannover could thrive within spitting distance of such wretched slums. What sort of mayor allows a cesspool of humanity like this to decay in his own back yard? A sick one, that’s who. And then I took a closer look at these little nightmare shanties, all huddled together for warmth like derelicts around a burning car tire…

“You know, for a bunch of filthy untouchables, these Germans bums sure decorate the shit out of their huts.”

And it was true: Each little house was manicured with tender, loving care. Like dollhouses for God’s sullied children. They were freshly painted, complete with trim and decorations on the front door. They even had tiny chimneys and gutters. The yards were immaculate and the gardens were actually growing real, live, fruits and vegetables. I even saw a miniature trellis supporting a beautiful red climbing rose… like a single wish of hope in an otherwise hellish quagmire of despair.

“These are the best hobos ever!” I declared loudly, not only for my wife, but for the rest of the train car to hear as well.

“Those are Schreber gardens,” said my wife. “We call them ‘Schrebergärten.’ People who live in the city rent them so they can garden on the weekends. When I was a kid, I used to have sleepovers with my friend in her family’s Schreber garden.”

She was right. Apparently, the “Schreber Movement” started in Leipzig, Germany, in 1864. European industrialization in the 19th century brought tons of people into German cities, and most of them were very poor. As a way to improve their lives and put more food on the table, they used these little plots of land outside the city to garden, work outside in the fresh air and have a place for their children to play. These days, Schreber gardens are more of a hobby than a necessity, and though I’m sure there are some young people who continue to enjoy them, all I’ve seen are super old people with their hands in the dirt and their asses to the sky.

And so, Dear Germany, I must apologize; I am sorry for assuming so many of your citizens were living in abject squalor. I just didn’t know! I mean, I own a house in the States and I hate yard work — I couldn’t imagine paying someone for the chance to weed my own vegetable garden. That’s just crazy talk. But you go ahead and do your thing, Germany.

Do it real good.



If you would like to read another post regarding my adjustment to life in a new country, check this one out: American Expat Receives Terrifying Haircut at Turkish Hairdresser in Germany

Tips from an American Expat: Everyday Products You’ll Miss after Moving to Germany

Survey conducted by Dan, blogger and owner of Live Work Travel USA. He’s my opposite — a German expat living in America — like my evil mirror image from a parallel universe. Or am I the evil one? (Clearly one of us has to be destroyed.) But first, Dan asked me…


“Welcome to America.” — Photo Credit: Ruth Hartnup ( — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

What food items do you miss most from America?

Mexican Food
Now, I realize I just named a type of food that comes from an entirely different country than my own, but hell — Mexico is right there. We’re like passive-aggressive neighbors; all smiling and waving to each other from across the street, then talking massive amounts of shit as soon as we close the front door. “Oh. My. God. Gladys, did you hear what Mexico did today? That slut.” So, I don’t miss that, but I do miss burritos. Big, sloppy, disgusting burritos the size of a newborn baby. Hell yes. And real guacamole. And tortilla chips that aren’t powdered with artificial flavoring, like some weird, evil German’s idea of what nachos should taste like. (Hint: nachos should taste like salt, not Satan’s jockstrap.)

Real Hot Sauce
Tapatio. Sriracha. Dave’s Insanity Sauce. Blair’s After Death Sauce. Mad Dog 44 Magnum Pepper Extract. (Why are these names so violent?) Now, most of these anus-burners can be ordered online, but not all of them. Real hot sauce is hard to find in Germany. Oh sure, they’ve got Tabasco in almost every store, but I said hot sauce, not red vinegar for complete pantywaists. My wife suggested I look in some local Indian and Asian food stores, and she was right! I found my precious Sriracha sauce. Problem is, the bottles are tiny, so they’re the same price if I ordered the big daddies and paid for the shipping, but still! Victory, I say!

Out of Season Fruits and Vegetables
I understand all of the reasons why eating locally-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables is a good idea. It’s good for the economy. Good for the environment. Good for your Mom (zing!). But I’m American; we simply cannot understand the idea of not getting whatever we want, whenever the hell we want it. “Mangos in December. Strawberries in January. No, I have no idea where they’re coming from. What’s the problem, hippy?” So I guess I don’t really care about any one fruit or vegetable in particular; what I care about is that I’m being forced into becoming a better person. When it comes to self improvement, I want it to be according to my schedule — ideally while on a comfy psychiatrist’s couch or readily available in pill form.

Real Ketchup and Mayonnaise
When you order French fries here in Germany, you will typically be asked whether or not you would like them to be, “red and white.” This means half your fries will be drowned in mayonnaise, and the other half in ketchup. Since every American on earth knows dipping your French fries in mayonnaise is black magic communist devil worship (with herpes), I’ll skip over the concept itself. But dude, there is something deeply, terribly wrong with German mayonnaise. It tastes sweet, like Miracle Whip. I hate it, so I basically just avoid anything in this country that has a chance of filling my mouth with thick, white, porno goo. And then there’s the ketchup. Now, I’ve seen Heinz ketchup in the grocery store, but that’s not what you’ll get on the “red” side of your fries — you’re gonna get a weird, thin mutation of ketchup which tastes, inexplicably, like salsa. It’s like the retarded younger brother of ketchup, and nobody knows who the father is.


“What… what in God’s name is THAT?” — Photo Credit: mike germany ( — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

Which German foods do you like, that you wish you could get in America?

Real Liverwurst
Lots of Americans think they know what real liverwurst tastes like, but they don’t. And they hate it. This is because major supermarket chains in the States sell pink, mass-produced paste called liverwurst, but it tastes like salty foreskin. It wasn’t until I moved to Germany that I saw the full spectrum of liverwurst — every brand, flavor and texture — like a horrifying pâté rainbow in the sky. Yet even after sampling the real deal, I still wasn’t sure about it. My gag reflex remained on high alert: “Hey boy, what do you think you’re trying to sneak past us here? Didn’t we already talk about this back when you were 12 years old, when you smeared this shit on a cracker at that Christmas party? You spit it out into a napkin right in front of the host. Guess this is one lesson we’re gonna have to teach you twice.” What I’m saying is, it took me about 6 months to really make friends with liverwurst, but after I did, I loved it. I also enjoy the fact that so much of it is made from young pig and veal livers, because their youthful energy reinvigorates my own liver and repairs all the damage I’ve done over the years.

You know Weißwurst: those white sausages served in a steaming ceramic bowl with a lid on top? They’re short, thick and perfectly smooth — like zombie dicks. I think they do sell them in some German restaurants in the States, but I’d never really noticed them before. Now I love these things! I don’t even cut the peel off, like I’ve seen the Germans do; I leave it on because I like the way it pops in my mouth. It reminds me I’m eating an animal which has literally been stuffed up its own ass, and that just seems so right.

Okay, now these sausages are the long, thin, dark red ones you see at German festivals. And since I apparently can’t stop talking about dicks today, I’m gonna go ahead and say they look like really long dog dicks. Like a full yard of the proudest Doberman ever. And there’s something saltier and tastier about Schinkengriller than the other sausages. They’re my favorite. I just don’t understand the tiny rolls and slices of white bread they’re served with. If you’re gonna jam your meat into a piece of bread, at least use a hotdog bun or something long enough to make the whole thing feel welcome.

And of course, in America, I wish I could more easily find 1-liter glasses of beer for sale. Hell, with the exception of local festivals and events, there are only a few pubs here in Hannover that sell them at all. This is probably due to the fact that Maß beers are really more of a Bavarian thing. (And Bavarians regard the rest of Germany the way Texans regard the other 49 states of America — with a playful sense of entitlement masking the fuck off attitude underneath.)


“He must work out.” — Photo Credit: Alex-501 ( — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

Other than food, what products do you miss from America, that you wish you could get here in Germany?

Cheap Clothing
Seriously. Buying clothes in Germany is a painfully expensive ordeal. Especially when it comes to jeans. You can go to some ethically dubious chain and find yourself some cheap blue jeans, but there’s a decent chance some sweatshop child will have sewn a message into the tag: MEN’S JEANS, SIZE: LARGE, MACHINE WASH GENTLE, OH MY GOD PLEASE GET US OUT OF HERE.

Stain Sticks
Stain sticks and sprays are laundry products you can apply to stains immediately after they occur, and then sit on your lazy ass for up to a week before doing the laundry. Stains come right out. Maybe they do sell them here in Germany — or something like them — but I can’t find them anywhere. One time, I spilled red wine on my blue thermal sweatshirt, so my wife applied laundry detergent directly to the stain. Just got the spot wet and rubbed that shit right on in there. Ran it through the washing machine and BOOM; my sweatshirt was covered in these massive, hideous white blotches — like I’d just lost a fistfight with a bottle of chlorine.

Standard Shower heads
Not handheld shower heads. I’ve talked about this before — how Germans love their handheld shower heads — but they’re not for me; I want the hot water to rain down on my head and shoulders like I’m standing beneath a waterfall. It’s soothing. Holding on to the source of the water keeps you from relaxing, and it’s not like the water won’t eventually reach your anus. Jesus. You don’t have to blast the poor thing with a jet of water like you’re suppressing a riot.

Standard Toilets
To be honest, most of the toilets in Germany seem to be standard, as opposed to low-flow. I haven’t encountered too many low-flow toilets here, but when I did, it sucked miserably. Your stinking loaf drops onto a dry shelf, where it remains until you flush. Then it streaks its way into a tiny cup of water before (hopefully) disappearing. You might be surprised just how effective a generous pool of water can be at stifling the true potency of your stink nuggets. Chances are, if you’re American, you’ve been taking standard toilets for granted your entire life. I sure as hell did.

Nighttime Mouth Guards (dental guards for sleeping)
Seriously, why can’t I buy these things in Germany? I clench my jaw at night so hard I am literally cracking my own teeth. Every dentist who has ever looked into my mouth has said, “Wow, your teeth are so straight… and you’ve really never had braces? But jeez, what’s with the nighttime grinding? Here, let me fit you for a €300 euro dental guard — one which your insurance may or may not cover — I have no idea…” And then I get to explain I use $10 dollar night guards from the States, and then the dentist acts like he or she has absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. (Oh, but they do, those sons of bitches.)

Over-the-Counter Medicine
NyQuil, DayQuil, Advil (Ibuprofen), Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Zicam, Excedrin, Claritin, Dimetapp, Neosporin (topical antibacterial) — you know, the basics. You can buy some of these things in Germany, but you’ll have to make an extra trip to the pharmacy (Apotheke) to do it. Oh, and you’ll have to speak to a pharmacist about them too, describing all of your disgusting symptoms in detail before they’ll hand over the goods. “Hi, I have a runny nose. Yes, snot is coming out of it. No, the snot is not brown or yellow. What? Did you just ask if my snot is thick? Look, can I just please have the nasal spray so I can breathe again, god damn you?”

Prescription Drugs
Germany and America have different regulations for prescription-strength medicines, so you can’t always find the drug you need here. This sucks pretty hard for expats like me. I’m American. I’m accustomed to blasting what ails me with the chemical equivalent of a howitzer. If I’ve got a headache, I don’t want to just get rid of it; I want to smash it out of my skull with a hammer. if I can’t sleep, I won’t politely ask insomnia to leave me alone for the night; I’ll stab that bitch right in the windpipe. And when seasonal allergies come around, I’m not going to gently usher them out the door; I’m going to give them two rounds to the chest and sprinkle cocaine on their bodies for the cops to find.


“Too many shoes. Getting nervous.” — Photo Credit: Travis Sanders ( — Image subject to CC 2.0 Generic license

Are there any German products you wish you could get in America?

House Shoes
Oh sure, we’ve got shoes we choose to wear indoors. They’re called slippers. What I mean are the kind of dedicated footwear every German owns — super comfy, donned the moment you set foot in your home — and typically stored in an orderly fashion in the entryway. I don’t mean like at a party hosted by some asshole who makes you take your shoes off and throw them in a haphazard pile in the corner so you can worry about them being lost or stolen all night long. I’m talking about house shoes; they make you feel at home, peaceful and relaxed, because they’re yours. Kind of like that scene in Full Metal Jacket: “These are my German house shoes! There are many like them, but these ones are mine!”

Scratchy Towels
Thin, scratchy towels are the norm here in Germany. This may sound like a negative, but it isn’t; I used to hate scratchy towels, but have come to love how easily they wick the water from your body. Hell, they downright suck the water off, and they exfoliate your skin at the same time. Like sandpaper that’s juuuust soft enough not to scratch off your fun bits.

Dynamo Lights
Dynamos are lights for your bike which run off the power generated by the rotation of your tires. I’d never seen one before moving to Germany, and I was immediately impressed. Who wants to slap a pair of batteries into a plastic case and then replace them every couple months? I love the idea of generating my own light — like Gandalf saving everyone’s ass at the end of The Two Towers: “At dawn, look to the East!”

Tilt and Turn Windows
These things are yet another example of genius German engineering; a tilt and turn window can tilt inward at the top or open inward completely from the side. Germans invented them, and they rule. (Which is why the rest of the European countries totally ripped off the design.) In America, most everybody has windows the slide up or to the side, and I don’t know about you, but I am constantly breaking these things. Also, I am the clumsiest man alive.

Predial Numbers
I don’t know how they work, but in Germany, you can call America for less than a cent per minute using something called ‘predial’ numbers. They’re usually just 5 or 6 digits dialed before the country code, but only certain service providers allow them. Also, the caller has to be using a land line. But still, awesome! Predial numbers — in addition to Skype, WhatsApp, Instant Messenger, email, letters and postcards — were vital during the time my wife and I were in a long distance relationship. We talked every single day, for an hour during my lunch break Monday through Friday, and then 4-5 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Christ. Just thinking about all those months of heartache makes me want to cry all over again. I’m crying right now, in fact. Like a little bitch.

Effective Public Transportation
U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Bus, Fernbus, Metronom, Regionalbahn, IC, ICE — just about every German city provides access to all of these options. In the States, only a handful of cities even have a subway, and at this moment I’m having trouble remembering any of them except New York. NYC is lousy with subway trains, but I come from Portland, Oregon; we have the bus and a light rail train called The MAX (Metropolitan Area Express). Oh sure, you can hop on a train up to Seattle or something, but it sucks. Takes forever. We need high-speed trains, man!


Until I received this survey from Dan, I never really thought much about foods or products I missed from the States. And I definitely hadn’t thought about things from Germany I might miss back home. I just didn’t care. What can you do about it anyway? Forgo clean undies by stuffing your suitcase full of hot sauce and prescription drugs? Shit, I’d rather get caught smuggling dildos.

The availability of American foods and products in Germany is actually quite impressive. In fact, I have to award Germany 4 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds for its effort:


But the truth is, if you want to live in a foreign country, you have to adapt. That’s what every good expat does. In fact, the only thing I truly miss from home is the luxury of not having a language barrier. I miss my ability to handle minor tasks and solve problems without applying a bunch of time and effort. I am terribly lazy, you see, so I have to preserve what small amount of vital energy I have left. If I don’t, my wife will find me passed out on the floor because I tried to read a German baking recipe. “Salz, Zucker… that’s ‘salt’ and ‘sugar,’ probably… oh my God, what is Schlagsahne? Some kind of cream, right? Hitting cream? Aw Jesus…” BOOM! — I’m on the floor.

Thank you, Dan, for asking me these questions and prompting this blog post. And thank you, Reader, for reading it. If you’d like to see another one, check out: InterNations: An American Expat Answers Questions About Living in Germany

Thinking of moving to the US? Ever wondered what life is like for expats on the other side of the pond? For information on life as a German expat in the United States, visit Dan’s site:


Live Work Travel USA