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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When I was little we moved back to the states after 3 years. My sister and I both freaked out about feather-less eggs. We were used to fresh eggs not the white ones we have here.
Ha! Yes!!! Strangely enough, I know EXACTLY what you mean!
I lived in Germany for 5 years and have been back for 2 years now. I did lots of the same things that you did at first. Now I’m more acclimated to US life again but one extra thing that I still do 2 years later is miss Germany terribly. It’s where I lived the longest portion of my adult life (we’ve moved a lot), where my son was born, where I became who I am today and I will always see it as home.
It definitely steals your heart, doesn’t it!?
If I walk up to a clerk at a deli or bakery I start speaking German to order.
It happens to the best of us, Cara!
Lived in Italy, so a bit different, but such similarities- and I agree, some things you don’t really want to adjust back to. I still get angry at slow traffic in the left lane- expect to pay for plastic bags when I forget my re usable and assume stores are closed for a lunch hour….. Oh and I’m late everywhere….. But I guess I’ve been like that my whole life, it was just more acceptable in Italy 🙂
My blood seriously boils when I see the lack of recycling! But I agree, I think that Europe in general just does things so differently that are easy to fall in love with that makes it hard to leave!
I lived in Germany for seven years near Kaiserslautern in Rhineland Pfalz. Everyone told me it would take a year for every two years I lived there to readjust. Not so! I have lived back in the States for nine years and it STILL drives me nuts when people lolligag around in the PASSING lane while driving. Also, my Germlish comes out from time to time. Some days I wish I could go back, especially after driving all day.
I really do think Germany steals a bit of your heart that you just can never get back, no matter where you live!
It has been years since I lived in Germany, but i still occasionally find myself yielding to the right while driving, stacking my plates after eating out, and saying or thinking the German word for things. And we still think twice about mowing the lawn on Sunday or washing the car in the driveway.
Lived in Germany for a decade, back in the US.
Sometimes I still lock myself in the bathroom stall at work and cry for 30 minutes or more because I think there is no humanity in the world. Then I realize I don’t live in Berlin anymore.
I lived in Germany for almost twenty years and Italy for ten years. In the eight years since returning to the USA I still wish for a long drive on the Autobahn and one more train trip from Frankfurt to Paris.
Ah, that does sound magical, doesn’t it!?
Enjoyed the 20 things you list. I spent 7 years in Germany and worked pretty hard at learning German, still like to shake hands when meeting a person, and enjoy the friendship with a local German friend who comes with me to church. Thus I have fond memories, especially remembering the time I gave directions to a German on how to find the Bahnhof in Wiesbaden and he politely thanked me and went on his way in the right direction. Wow! I had spoken correctly!
I had a similar experience in my own little tiny village! I was sure I had botched the directions and who knows if he actually made it to the train station, but it looked like he had headed off correctly, soooo score!
Haha I wish London was as good as time keeping in Germany!
Hahah that’s true, the U Bahn is the best!
I’ve never lived in Germany and I’m sad at the lack of public transportation.Also bigger beer is never a bad idea.
This really made me chuckle, especially the one about train times! I have visited Germany a few times and you really have captured the spirit of German life here. Hope your settling back into the US continues to go well!
We found ourselves mumbling and grumbling when traveling in places that weren’t so “timely” and realized Germany really had grown on us!! The move is going well. Ready for my first trip though, near or far!
I grew up in Germany and I still remember some of the things you are highlighting. It’s a lovely country – but like everywhere in the world it does have some peculiarities
It’s funny because even those “peculiarities” that I found to be a nuisance, I find to be missing now that we are back in the US!
This is true and humorous. I can relate to some of the common european lifestyles, like no right on red, due to my current residence in Italy.
Also loving the Oktoberfest picture!
Madelain | http://www.wheremyheartwanders.com
You’ve highlighted so many of the reasons why I really love Germany. The punctuality, great driving etiquette, huge beers. 😉 Every time we visit, Germany grows on me. Thanks for the fun post.
It’s a country that really does steal your heart!
This is great! I travel to and through Germany on a regular basis so I can relate to a few of the ‘things’ on your list.
I have been to Germany couple of times but never for long. A learning experience for me from this post. Lack of public transportation will be a disappointment for me too. And the trains arriving dot on time is not surprise.. I experienced that. 🙂
Very funny especially about the cashier girl possibly thinking you called her a donkey….lol! Maybe you should start your own Oktoberfest just to make sure you get the right size of beer you want! 😉
Oh, Lydia! You have no idea how many times I’ve seriously thought about doing this!
Nice post! Although I still live in Germany and am not native German, I do some of these things when I visit other countries especially the ‘Danke’ and I totally cracked up reading your version of it! It’s funny how you get so used to things which may seem weird and annoying when you first move to Germany and then you end up missing some of those very things. Good luck with settling back in.
I feel your pain! After spending 5 years there, we are trying desperately to land a GS position to go back for another 5.
Good luck! We miss it every day!