The Things You Learn

Life for the past few years has been neatly parcelled – neat parcels of a sort of chaos – into bites of time, chapters you could say. Consequently I am able to, with relative ease, cast an eye back on each parcel and note the lessons learnt.

I thought I’d share a few of those lessons with you. They’ve served me well as general, Life in Germany rules of thumb.

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  • Vast quantities of cheese-stuffed brötchen, and sugary quarkbällchen, whole rolls of Doppelkeks and indeed 4-packs of Berliners will not be magically, rapidly metabolised just because I now live in the land of bread. And thus availing myself of bakeries and supermarket ‘bakery aisle’ specials with great regularity, will result in ten kilograms of extra padding, rendering jeans and coats unable to be buttoned for the following two years.
  • Jeggings are the answer.
  • H&M home delivery service can lead to addiction.
  • Endless rain sends one mad, and makes entire cities snippy and irritable.
  • Snow is lovely and magical and romantic and exciting for a week.
  • Autumn jackets won’t keep you warm in Winter.
  • Invest in a Winter jacket. It is the only thing you will wear for months on end.
  • You don’t drink glühwein a) cold or b) from a wine glass.
  • Ice is extremely slippery and it is wise not to leap out of buses onto it.
  • Ugg boots have brilliant grip.
  • There is a very small window of time in which you can wish someone a Merry Christmas, and it’s after church, before presents, on Christmas Day (which is the 24th, not the 25th.)
  • Germans love house parties and throw exceptional ones that last into the wee hours of the morning, beyond a visit from the cops (just turn down the 90s pop and crack on).
  • You need a local to drink at with like-minded colleagues. (And Germans may not necessarily understand it.)
  • And you need that friend who always has the kettle boiled and the couch ready, any time of day, particularly when it’s cold and rainy outside.

thingsilearntinkiel

  • There is a time limit to being able to comfortably reside in a small dachterassewohnung, with a sizeable flatmate, and retain sanity – around 6 months.
  • I will try quite hard never to live in a dachterassewohnung again, unless it is enormous.
  • Germans will stare even harder at gold shoes, than they do at thongs (flip flops), particularly if you crack them out in Spring.
  • The Northerners are a completely different breed of German to the Münsteranians.
  • You need to be the one who asks new colleagues out on friend-dates because a) you need friends and b) sometimes they turn out to be brilliant people.
  • I need the ocean nearby.
  • Coast-dwellers are, the world over, cool people.
  • Language battles exist.
  • Germans love festivals and fairs and nary a week passes without one.
  • There are beautiful, long white-sand beaches in Germany!
  • I love the North.

thingsilearntinw

  • The Bavarians are a completely different breed of Germans to the Northerners and Münsteranians.
  • The Oberpfälzisch people are a completely different breed of Germans to the Bavarians, Northerners, and Münsteranians.
  • Oberpfälzisch is incomprehensible. Even to Germans.
  • Bavaria is a stunning part of the world.
  • Plate-sized schnitzels are fine, every once in a while. Not all the time.
  • Weiden has the best Greek restaurant I’ve found in Germany, thus far.
  • Wherever you are, the sign of a Greek restaurateur’s appreciation, is a complimentary glass of ouzo.
  • I like cooking, particularly when I have the time and kitchen space to do it.
  • Social networks are a necessary thing, and without them, one can get lonely.
  • You can learn a lot about yourself when you live somewhere you ordinarily wouldn’t want to.

7 Replies to “The Things You Learn”

  1. I stumbled upon your adventures last night while trying to locate a place to live in Kiel, or in/around the area. We, my husband and son, will be moving there August ’14. Your writings are quite eye opening and I love your candid experiences. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. We have never lived outside of the US before, only Hawaii, and although it’s the US too, it really isn’t to an outsider. I’d love to pick your brain, so give me a shout back if you are so inclined.

    Regards,

    Tera

  2. I love these posts! When you live abroad you learn an endless amount of information, and you just can’t stop talking about it or writing about it.
    Do you have any “expat” (Australian or other) friends there with whom you share and discuss your experiences? I studied and interned abroad with a couple large classes of students from my own university, so I’m lucky in that I have a lot of people with whom I can reminisce and who helped me process things while I was there.

    1. I had an Aussie friend in Münster, but he went home after a few months. And I met an Aussie by chance once in Kiel. But there are absolutely none here in Weiden! I think most of them would be in the bigger cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich. Most of my expat connections, and my colleagues, are people from the UK or the States – which is also cool, because their experiences are different again, so we can compare on a few levels!

  3. Hi! I stumbled across your Blog. And I am loving it!! My hometown is Munster and I just recently moved to the USA. I laughed so hard reading your entries and ” what I know about Germans” it felt like you were describing me and my life hahah. So many VERY true things which makes me miss and don’t miss Munster at the same time. Glad you had a good time and thanks for somehow bringing me the feeling of home & Munster to my my desk.

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