Tag Archives: Hanover

Culture Shock 6: Five (More) Things That Suck About Living in Germany

Once again, let me begin by saying life in Germany is awesome. I absolutely love it here! I have, however, learned a thing or two about the realities of life abroad. What follows is the next list of discoveries, oddities and annoyances revealed in my first months as an expat American living in Hannover, Germany:

  1. Shameful public artwork is everywhere. It seems like every corner is home to a bronze sculpture featuring a pair of naked Germans, heads hanging in shame, mumbling to one another, “God we suck.” Yes, I understand the travesties of the world wars. I totally get the need to remember, to learn and to honor the dead, but I’d like to take at least one leisurely stroll around town without feeling like I just took a shower in dog poop and shame sprinkles.
  2. Soccer fans are scary. There are few things I enjoy less than being surrounded by drunken soccer fans, hooting and hollering as they stumble through the train station after the big game. Hell, any game. I’m not convinced the fans I’m seeing even go to the games; I think some of these guys just put on their team jerseys and scarves and go watch whichever team happens to be playing on TV at their favorite watering hole. And there’s something about a big German man wearing a scarf striped with his local team’s colors, swaying as he walks toward me with an empty beer bottle about to tumble from his fingers, which I find — on an instinctual level — absolutely terrifying.
  3. Germans are downers. This may have something to do with point #1, but a great many of the Germans I’ve encountered are depressing as hell. Nothing is ever awesome. Even if something is mostly awesome, like having a job as a wealthy, internationally respected beer taster, the average German will focus on the one part of that job which blows, and feel the need to tell me all about it. “Yes, I have a good job as a beer taster, but there is only one electric car charger at the brewery; it is indicative of a larger problem within our educational system and our government as a whole, and demonstrates the fact that our entire country is about to implode in a morbidly depressing vacuum of apocalypse.” I mean, sure, Germans have been through some crazy ups and downs throughout history, so maybe even now they’re afraid to get their hopes up, but Jesus; let’s turn those frowns upside down, Deutschland! Look, you have dirndls and beer all around you! Dirndls and beer, God damn you.
  4. Everybody is tall as hell. I’m sure someone out there can explain the correlation between height and colder climates, but all I know is here in Germany, I’m like Frodo Baggins in the land of the Silvan Elves. I’m about 5′ 10″ (or 5′ 11″ — when I’m totally lying), and I always thought my height was pretty average. Not here. In Lower Saxony, I’m surrounded by these elongated, angelic beings with wonderfully straight hair and wings sewn of Jack Wolfskin polyurethane.
  5. Even in Germany, there are assholes. Of course I am aware there are jerks in every country, but I’d hoped Germany would be different. Yes, this was my own cultural bias, but I didn’t want to let it go. Not even at the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde), full of snorting pencil pushers, who calmly lost my residence application and then told me not to worry about it. Or that sad little beer tent at Oktoberfest, where the waitress shut down my attempts to order in German, advising me, “Just speak English, it is the language of business.” Or those drunken soccer fans on Georgstraße, who passed my wife and I, asking, “Is this your boyfriend? No? He’s your husband? Are you sure?” But finally, reluctantly, I had to admit there are a few jackpipes in my beloved Germany. Luckily, for each one I meet, there seem to be 10 warm and wonderful Germans just waiting to brighten my day here in Deutschland.

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Culture Shock 5: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany

Let me begin by saying life in Germany is awesome. I love it here! I have, however, learned a thing or two about the realities of life abroad. What follows is a list of discoveries, oddities and annoyances revealed in my first months as an expat American living in Hannover, Germany:

  1. The common American advice, “Don’t worry about the language barrier in Germany; everybody speaks English,” is false. Everybody speaks a little English in Hannover, and they are terribly self-conscious about using it. Younger Germans are more likely to speak English, and I’ve met several who are fluent. However, if they aren’t fluent, and you desperately need to locate the nearest restroom, you’ll soon find yourself gesticulating wildly as you try not to make pants pickles.
  2. There are pharmacies on every goddamn block. Seriously. They’re called “Apotheken,” and they are everywhere in this city. You can go to the nearest Apotheke and get your prescription filled. You can also purchase a wide variety of over-the-counter medications which do absolutely nothing. It goes like this: you must convince the pharmacist you have a cold and then intimately describe your most disgusting symptoms, after which time, if they believe you, they hand you a box of herbal tea. “Thank you Sir! I was going to drown my symptoms in a near-lethal dose of NyQuil, but this lemon-flavored tea should prove just as effective!”
  3. Germans are impatient. They have zero tolerance for delays, lines or traffic of any kind. They operate at top speed, which is why, in the cashier line at the grocery store, you better pay for your items and get the hell out of the way, because Dieter von Shufflestein is right on your ass. The first time I tried to put my change away before taking my groceries from the counter, my items were suddenly overrun with those belonging to the person behind me. His pickled herring and canned hotdogs were all up in my situation, and he didn’t even care a bit. I wanted so desperately to turn to him and scream, “Bitch, I am going to throw your nasty shit all over the floor if you do not get off my Kool-Aid!”
  4. Craft beers and dark beers have yet to really catch on in Germany. I’m from Portland, Oregon, so I’m accustomed to an amazing variety of beer, but over here, I mostly see pilsner and hefeweizen. I’m not complaining, mind you; the pilsner here is rather strong, and my wife can always tell when I have, as she puts it, “a pilsner-buzz” on. Oh, and liquor is super cheap here. Like, $7 for a fifth of rum, type cheap. I mean, hell, that’s not just cheap, that’s cheap as balls.
  5. Recycling is a monumental pain in the ass. (I’m only speaking of apartment living with this one, and specifically, apartment living in the city of Hannover.) Glass can only be returned in these round tanks on the sidewalk, which look like giant metal boobies. And just like real boobies, they’re nowhere to be found when you need them. Recycling makes absolutely no sense to me here. You have to put your organic compost, or “Bio” garbage into plastic bags — yes, plastic bags — and take them down to the dumpster. Random items (like cotton swabs, tissue paper and tampons) go into clear plastic bags and are taken to an entirely different dumpster. Regular paper goes into blue plastic bags, while metal and plastic go into yellow bags; both of which are picked up from the street once per week… by different companies. Oh, and if you buy a bottle of water at a certain grocery store, and you want to recycle it and get your deposit back, you have to take it back to that exact same grocery store. So, with all of these convoluted rules and the counterproductive use of plastic in the recycling process, I kind of want to make a German flag out of rubber tires and hairspray bottles in the middle of a busy street and set that shit on fire.

Click here to learn more about the term “Culture Shock.”

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Writing and Blogging: Expat Blog Awards 2012 – Germany

Expats Blog

On December 14, 2012, the Expats Blog will determine their winning blog for the country of Germany. That’s this Friday! Would you mind leaving a quick vote for our blog to improve our chances of winning? Comments and votes directly influence this award!

To help us out:

  1. Go to http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1129/oh-god-my-wife-is-german.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
  3. Fill out the fields under, “Leave some love for this blog.”
  4. I know it sucks to give out your email address. I did it already, and I know I can unsubscribe from Expats Blog whenever I want. If you are uncomfortable with the email address part, don’t even worry about it; just keep reading our blog and know how much we appreciate your time and attention!
  5. If you don’t care about the email address part and you actually leave us a good vote? THANK YOU! If our blog wins, we’ll likely write a special post to thank you for your time!

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful holiday season!

Oh God, My Wife Is German.

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