Cultural differences

Hallo everyone! It’s been a really long time since I last blogged, but I’ve been too busy living life to blog about it!! Also, sitting infront of a computer at work for 7 hours a day means that I don’t really want to spend much of my free time doing the same! Since I last wrote a post, I’ve been to visit the family I au-paired for last summer in Munich, been ill, been home very briefly, and had my first visitor.. So I haven’t had much time to write. I thought I’d do a themed post this week, instead of just rambling on about what I’ve been doing, but I’ll let some pictures do that for me first! A picture says a thousand words, so they say: 

image image image This one needs some words! The family I visited live near a lake just outside Munich. Instead of an ice cream van, an ICE CREAM BOAT comes to sell ice cream on the shore! I queued up with the children and was probably far more excited to buy a nice cream from a boat than any of them!!imageI went up to the platform 183m up, the view was amazing!! 

Germany and England are culturally fairly similar, at least compared with Spain and England. Meal times are similar, as are working times, and there is no siesta (all together, yay!) 

Language

I thought I’d start with an obvious one! There has, of course, been a faux-pas of the week. The other day my boss asked me if I had any questions about the work he’d given to me. I wanted to say “Nein, ich habe keine Zweifel/ no, I have no doubts” but what I actually said was “Nein, ich habe keine Zwiebeln/ no, I don’t have any onions!” At least I gave everyone in the office something to smile about! 

Although that might suggest otherwise, my German is always improving. Here in Germany, everyone learns English from the age of 8 or 9, so they all have at least a decent level of English. I expected that I might find it more difficult than in Spain to use my foreign language, but I actually speak less English here. I speak only German at work, with my flat mates , and most of my friends. translating legal documents at work reminds me just how much I still have to learn, but I’m getting better every day. If people, sometimes in shops, hear my English accent and try to answer me in English, I’ve started to feel quite affronted and answer back determinedly in German! 

Driving

In Europe, as I’m sure you’ll know, people drive on the other side of the road to us in the Uk. As a passenger, this doesn’t feel at all strange, but last week I had my first experience of driving on the right. Changing gears with my right hand was a very komisch feeling, as was keeping to the right side of the road! I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was going to drive right into me, but there were no injuries to myself, passenger, the car or Germany, so I think it was a success! …also, it’s not just cars that travel on the right side! I’vejust noticed that the up escalator is always on the right here!

Another difference is the speed limit. In towns and cities the speed limit is similar to ours, but parts of the Autobahn(motorway) have no speed limit at all! I must be getting boring in my old age- I find that really terrifying.

Germany has a really strong car manufacturing industry, and German people like to support it. I dot know if it’s just because the two cities I’ve lived in, Munich and Stuttgart, are so wealthy, but it seems like everyone drives beautiful cars! The price of petrol (and everything) is really high so I don’t know how people afford to run them!!

Cost

That brings me nicely to the (not so nice) topic of how much everything costs here!! Perhaps, compared with England, it’s not that expensive but compared with life in Spain, the cost of living here seems extortionate. I’ve gone from spending about 25 euros per week on food in Spain to about 45 here. An oven pizza costs about a fiver!! Thank goodness for the Erasmus grant!

Thank goodness also for the free accommodation provided by my work. Rent here is really expensive- but the biggest problem is that there are so few spare rooms. A friend had to look for more than a month before she found one. The problem is is that the economy is doing well here, so people are taking jobs and moving here, but there is nowhere for them to live. Some of the countryside surrounding the city is protected so it can’t expand much to make room. 

Food and Drink

Here in Germany,  I think the food’a quite similar. Traditional dishes involve meat and some types of potatoes or bread. International food is really popular- there are lots of Italian restaurants and sushi bars. I was thrilled when I found curry powder and coconut milk on the supermarket!! 

Food culture is quite similar, but drinking culture is not. I know very few people who drink tap water (although it’s perfectly safe) a everyone buys bottled. Bottled water is almost always sparkling. I found it quite strange at first but I’m starting to really like it- maybe even prefer it! (But I’m still drinking the tap water, I can’t afford bottled water after I’ve done my food shop haha!!)

True to the stereotype, beer is the drink of choice in bars (and everywhere else!) I would never order a beer at home but here I do (no one likes to be that awkward person in the round!) an I enjoy it. Maybe I’ve acquired the taste or maybe it’s better here… I’ll did out when I’m back in the UK in October!!

Germany is really big on recycling. When you buy a drink, you pay not just for the liquid, but also for the bottle/glass. This is called Pfand. When you finish, you take the container back to the shop or bar and get the Pfand money back. The system is great unless, like me, you’re foreign and keep forgetting not to throw them away – getting the dirtiest looks if anyone sees me doing it!!

There are lots more cultural differences but I’ll leave them for another post! Bis gleich!


 

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