I’ve been in Germany for almost a month and overall, I am adjusting well to the new surroundings and work environment.
As someone who has always chosen public transportation over owning a car, I love the ease of getting around town and beyond using trains, busses, subways, and trams.
I love the bakeries and the fresh bread. I love the clean air. I love the fact that people dress up nicely. I love the reasonable cost for food and rent. I love being so close to the rest of Europe. I love the a/i prices that include tax. Most of all, I love my new job–it has been fascinating so far.
But some things are going to take a little more time to get used to.
With the exception of gas stations and some restaurants, all businesses are closed on Sundays. A common day of rest is a laudable goal, but it also happens to be one of the two days a week I have time to buy groceries and other essentials.
Which leads me to my next observation: stores close early. The grocery stores in my neighborhood in Frankfurt close at 8:00p. I didn’t leave work till 9:00p last night, so I was stuck with frozen food again. Oftentimes, Saturdays are the only day of the week I have to go shopping, but you can’t really stock up on fresh food for a whole week.
And what is it with green salad? I went to three grocery stores last Saturday evening, first Aldi, then Nette (the two poor man’s grocers), then Rewe. None of them had bagged lettuce. Aldi and Nette had no lettuce at all. None had spinach. I swear it has been a royal struggle to find healthy food in Frankfurt. I’ve been afraid to weigh myself and see how many kilos I’ve put on after being on the meat and potatoes diet the last three weeks. I sure do love the bratwurst, though…
I asked a colleague today for some help–just a little thing that would have taken no more than two minutes. Nope. He couldn’t do it. Too busy, he said. But he did have time for the "mandatory" half-hour coffee break at 4:00p.
I’m sure he did not mean any harm and I am not disparaging him at all (especially because he’s one of my blog readers), but I don’t yet appreciate that sort of work ethic. To be frank, I don’t get it at all.
It’s like showing up at shop five minutes before it closes. In most places around the world, shopkeepers would welcome the customers in and let them stay a few minutes after closing if necessary in order to make a sale. Not in Germany! If it’s 7:55p, chances are you’ll be told to come back tomorrow. Seriously. And don’t get me started on credit cards.
I’ve got my BA and Hyatt cards (no foreign transaction fees) sitting in my (new) wallet, but have hardly been able to use them. Germans like cash and I hate not being able to earn frequent flyer miles on my daily purchases. But hey, the dearth of credit card acceptance helps to illustrate why Germans are so financially frugal. That’s an enviable trait.
I don’t mean to be so negative. I’m improving my German, making many new friends, traveling, and having a heck of a good time. Life is fine in Germany and if that’s all I’ve got to whine about, I really have no complaints at all!