You Have Lived in Germany Too Long When….
Well, it’s been about a month since moving back to the US and I am still adjusting to life on this side of the pond after almost six years in Deutschland. I went to the store the other day and after about 45 minutes, looked horrifyingly down into my cart to realize I had just spent the better part of an hour only to have 5, YES FIVE items! I was so overwhelmed with the 800 types of olive oil that it was taking me forever to just get my grocery shopping done!
And then there was the time I actually said, “Danke” to a waitress who looked at me like she was about to punch me. I assumed she thought I called her a “Donkey.” There was really no recovery from that faux pa.
And then there is the daily tasks that I am just struggling to readjust to. If you see me in the coming months and I am acting awkward, bumbling and potentially just plain weird…don’t worry, I have not lost it. I am either still hanging on desperately to the things I loved about life abroad or I am simply still readjusting.
Here’s a list of twenty things I’ve already been doing after my time as an expat in Deutschland. Chances are, if you have ever lived in Germany, you’ve been in the same boat.
1) I will ask for no ice
Yes, I’ll actually say, “Cola Lite with no ice please” because after living a life sans ice, you just get it. And yes, I will still accidentally say, “Cola Lite.” Woops.
2) Waiting Room Etiquette
When I walk into any room, particularly a waiting type room, I will say hello to everyone in there, and expect a hello back from them all.
I might even actually forget to say “Hello” and will slip and say something like “Morgen” or “Gruss Gott” cheerily as everyone looks at me in bewilderment.
3) I will be horrible at small talk
“How is your day today?”
Well, Do you REALLY want to know? Because if you don’t, then don’t feign pretending like you care.
4) I’ll be sad by the lack of public transportation
What do you mean there isn’t an U-Bahn to get me across town? Wait, I have to DRIVE myself across the state? I can’t take a leisurely train ride through the countryside!?
WHEN there is public transportation I’ll be outraged and irked when it is even 2 minutes late because yes, that is still late.
Germans don’t mess around! If they say the train will be there at 11:37, it will be there at 11:37…on the dot!
6) I won’t turn on red stop lights
I’ll sit there patiently with my head strained sideways looking up at the light for it to turn yellow, then green again only to hear you honking behind me reminding that right turns on red actually are legal here!
7) I’ll realize I may have road rage
I’ll get utterly pissed at you, flash my lights and wonder where you learned to drive when you cruise in the left lane.
Left is for passing, Right is for cruising! Seriously…get it right or don’t drive!
8) I’ll carry my umbrella with me no matter where I go
Because, you know….bipolar Germany weather, where you can have all four seasons in one hour in the Spring.
9) I’ll ask you which bin to put my waste in.
Because I don’t want to be fined for not recycling everything in it’s proper container!
Wait…your telling me you put your orange peel in the same trash as your chip bag
10) I’ll use Germlish
- “Yeah, I was stuck in a Stau today on my way to work”
- “What time do we need to be at the Flughafen for our flight?”
- “Is there a Pfand on this bottle?”
And then I’ll realize you have NO clue what I’m talking about but unfortunately won’t be able to remember the real, English words.
11) I’ll ask for your biggest beer.
Ahem… No. Bigger
Soooo, your saying that if I order a beer, it WON’T be the size of my head??? Don’t waste my time by making me order 4 beers when I can just get one massive mug that will do the job (and do it waaaay better)! And your “Oktoberfest?” Yeah, you are going to need about 7.5 MILLION more liters of beer to compare.
12) I’ll be mad at you when you mow the lawn on Sundays
Because Sunday is a quiet day, damn it! Oh, you mean to tell me that more than just a cafe for coffee and cake are open on Sundays? Like, I can actually go grocery shopping???
13) I’ll wave down my servers
I’m not trying to be rude. Honestly. I just forgot that you don’t get an hourly wage, health benefits and more, so you will actually be frequenting my table often in hopes of a good tip.
14) Santa? Nope. I’ll try to scare the crap out of my kids at Christmas
While you have a jolly old bearded man who rewards good children, I like to use the scare tactic of Krampus– be good or a devil beast will steal you to his lair!!!!! Muahaha!!! (Hey, you parent how you want to, I’ll parent how I want to!)
15) I’ll beat the bagger trying to bag my groceries
While bringing your own bags is becoming more common in many stores, not only will I be THAT person with my own, reusable bags, but I will try to bag every item with lightening speed as they cross the scanner so that the people behind me don’t get mad for being slow….and then will remember that there is an actual bagger for this!
16) I’ll be “That Neighbor” with my lawn
My once pristine lawn may now very well be covered in dandelions and weeds. It’s not that I won’t care about it, it’s just that there are more enjoyable things to be spending my time one in life. After all, it’s just a patch of green stuff.
17) I’ll look for change and coins before going into any public bathroom
Wait, your telling me I can pee for free in public establishments!? #WINNING!
18) I’ll crack open a cold one during my work break….or just at 8am
Soooo, what you are saying is it is frowned upon to have a beer with my lunch? Hmmmm. My employer may not take kindly to having a traditional Hefeweizen (wheat beer) with my wurst for breakfast??
But you can’t have your Weisswurst without a beer!?
19) Sundays will be for family
I’ll make a home cooked meal and enjoy the day with the fam…until I remember that things are actually open!
20) Speed limits
Yes, there ARE speed limits in Germany, but the Autobahn has it’s exceptions and even country roads you can cruise pretty good speeds at, making the adjustment to slower speeds a bit harder back in the US. Maybe I should just install a speeding alarm in my car, just to be on the safe side.
With moving back to the US comes so many great things. After all, there is Target, Reese’s peanut butter cups that won’t cost an arm and a leg, friends and family that don’t have a 7 hour time difference and just a general sense of more “conveniences.”
However, after living in Germany, something takes hold of you. There are just simply somethings that you are bound to fall in love with after living abroad for so long and others that you just aren’t going to want to shake.
Have you ever lived in Germany? What did you find yourself doing when you moved back home that made you stick out like a sore thumb?
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