6 Habits I Picked Up While Living in Germany
I have been back in the United States for a year and a half now. I moved to a new State in a new region, and it has been interesting, to say the least. From 26- 30 I lived in Berlin. It certainly had a profound impact on my very being. Many of the habits, I have taken with me. Some are good, and some are bad. I often have to remind myself, that I am no longer in Germany. Trust me, that is not hard, given that I moved to the South. It is like night and day in some cases. It is tough to learn one thing, be uprooted to learn another, and now go back to the previous environment. I compiled a list of the habits I have formed and inadvertently taken with me back to the States.
1. Recycling everything–
I am originally from the State of California. Growing up, we recycled in my home. My mother was insistent on it. When I moved to Berlin, I got my hippie wake up call, as I like to put it. Germans recycle far more than Americans do, which is a shame, because we really could affect real change if we did what the Germans do. I still place my wine bottles at the door, and other bottles. I forget that the grocery stores no longer have places to recycle my bottles, and that there aren’t specific trashcans dependent on the color and type of trash I have.
2. No small talk–
In a region of the country where people pride themselves on being friendly, and very religious, I might add, I find it hard to cut my small talk down to not include absolutely everything that is on my mind at the moment. When someone asks me how my weekend was, I am expected to say: “It was fine,” or “It was good” and leave it at that. They don’t need to hear about my most recent excursions to Little Five Points, where I found the perfect item for my budding crystal collection. I realized, that in Berlin not to many people asked this question, without actually wanting to hear it all.
3. Drinking tap water (with NO ice)–
The tap water in Georgia is NASTY. Now, that I think of it, the only good tap water I ever remember tasting in the States was in New York State. The tap water here is gross . I ran to the store to get a gallon of water, and vowed never to drink it again. I am honestly afraid a filter won’t work either.
4. Using random German words–
German is super efficient when it comes to conveying an emotion. Despite a heavy German population in the South. Many of these folks, never attempted to speak it. It’s useless to say words like “Achso” or “Genau” when no one really understands you. It’s tough to let them go, they are so efficient!
5. Carrying cash with me– I got into the habit of carrying cash in Berlin, because there were several establishments that simply didn’t take it. Here, everything can be paid with a card. I mean everything.. Car wash/bar/convenience store, parking lot.. Everything. I forgot about the convenience, but the German in me always thinks that I would rather not be tracked of all my purchases, and I still would rather pay cash.
6. Bringing my own bag to the supermarket– In California, this is so not a problem, because people have to pay for their own bag in some cases. I swear the look on the bag lady/guy’s face when I start packing my own bag’s is priceless. I wonder sometimes if they actually WANT to pack them. Just trying to do my part. I can’t believe that other people do not do it.
7. Time– I swear to god, Americans are really lax about time in some cases. I have been waiting for more than 5 minutes, and I get a text saying they will be 15 minutes late. I am fuming… why did you not just tell me you would be 20 minutes late in the first place? Why are you even late? I have to remember where I am sometimes. ‘Murica.
8. Love of Good Bread– I used to wonder what the deal was with the bread. My German ex or my friends always complained that the bread in the States tasted awful. They are SOOO right. I cannot stress enough that bread in the States is not in fact bread. Not sure what they are serving us. I have been going to deli in the back of the store for fresh bread at this point.
9. Food Quality– I had only been back to the States once in my entire time living in Germany. I decided to go back home, and eat a bunch of my favorite things. In N Out, Taco food trucks, just all around horrible food right. I am a vegetarian now, but it started only as a way to not get sick. After I returned, I had a horrible bout with food poisoning. I did some research, and discovered that the meat production standards are far different from those in Germany. Generally, anything out of the States tastes better. I can taste the chemicals on everything. Everything has too much sugar in it, and not enough actual flavor. I cook now mostly, or rarely go out. Even the juice tastes like chemicals.
I honestly hope to never lose these traits. I can definitely relax with the time issue, but I honestly feel Berlin made me a more aware person, and I am happy for the experience. What about you? Any habits you developed while in Germany or abroad that you took back home with you?
**I also made a video about my reverse culture shock**