I’ve been in Germany for a month now. I actually think I’m doing pretty well. I can navigate about the city and even neighboring cities on my own, go shopping and arrange deliveries, etc. In so many ways I’m clueless, but I know just enough to get by and for today, that is enough. I’ve made a few friends and that has been a real bright spot. I’d be lying though to say I don’t have a yearning for many things from home. Of course it goes without saying that the biggest thing I miss are my family and friends, but for this post, I will concentrate on things not people.
1o. American Grocery Stores– There is certainly enough to eat in Germany. lol I’m not starving by any means, but I don’t have many of the ingredients that I use to cook the recipes in my culinary repertoire. I’m a decent cook, but not a great cook, so the things I make are fairly basic American fare. Ingredients like cream of chicken soup, cheez whiz . Rice-a-Roni, cool whip, etc are often found in my pantry. These are not things you will find in a German Markt. That isn’t to say that they don’t have any convenience foods here because they do, but not ones I’m familiar with. It doesn’t help that I can’t read the directions on the package. A friend of mine gave me a German cookbook before I left to Germany. It is packed with my stuff being delivered from the US. Big mistake….i should have put that baby in my purse! On the upside, I was happy to find that Germans are big on ice cream. 🙂
9. A Backyard– To my backyard at home, I took you for granted. You were so multifunctional. You didn’t mind being Preston’s (our dog) potty and all that was required on my part was to open the patio door. No special clothes required, time of day was irrelevant and no stairs were involved. You were always there when I wanted to get some fresh air while also enjoying privacy. Yes, taking Preston out to Pee 4 times a day here in Germany has lost it’s luster for both me and CH. We do have some outdoor space (balcony) that we can set up a few chairs and a small grill, which is very nice, but there is no privacy, and obviously we can’t allow Preston to pee on the balcony……definitely not a good way to make friends with the downstairs neighbors.
8. Convenient Banking– This just may be because we don’t know what we’re doing, but so far banking is a huge pain. For some reason we can’t get online access to our account. I miss being a master of my money. We aren’t even assured we can take care of business if we go into the branch because only one person there speaks English and she may not be there.
7. Debit/Credit Cards– Germany mostly works with cash. We have a debit or bank card, but it’s use is very limited. I remember in the US when a debit card was only useful for getting cash out at an ATM. The debit card here is a bit more advanced than that, but not much. Some stores may take it, some may not. It’s really a crap shoot, so you always need to have a good amount of cash on hand. You also can’t use it online for many places. It all just makes shopping less convenient. That may lessen when I just get used to it more.
6. My Kitchen especially my Garbage Disposal– I knew I was going to miss this one! I love my kitchen at home. We remodeled the kitchen a few years ago and I designed it. It was a labor of love. We are very lucky that our apartment in Germany came with a kitchen. Most apartments here don’t come with one. Not to be picky….ok yes, I’m being picky, but the appliances are pretty old. Since we have been here, we have burned 3 meals because the oven is on crack. We often can’t use the dishwasher because the door won’t shut. AND The owners are really tall and they custom made the counters for their height. The bottom counter comes up to the top of my stomach. I look like a little kid playing in mommy’s kitchen when I try to cook in there LOL. All of that can be changed or adapted though. The one thing that can’t is that there is no garbage disposal. I was told it is against the law. Maybe someone was BSing me, I don’t know, but you can’t get one here. It’s just gross having to deal with left over food when you can’t just put it down the garbage disposal, not to mention the bits of food that get stuck in the strainer/stopper to prevent it from going down the drain of the sink. Who wants to touch that???! It’s just nasty all the way around.
5. My Car– I don’t enjoy driving. I do, however, enjoy getting stuff done quickly. Starting with an empty apartment, of course we have a number of things we need. If I had a car I could go to the store and pile in as much stuff as my wallet and car would allow. That doesn’t work though when you can only buy as much as you can manage to carry and deal with on the train, on the walk home from the train and up multiple flights of stairs. Another thing I realized that not having a car has an effect on…..footwear. I’m glad I only brought a few pairs of heels, because I can’t really imagine wearing them. I don’t see any women wearing heels either. No one wants to walk to the train, especially through the rain, in heels. Sensible shoes it is.
4. Linens– Germans only use a bottom sheet and a comforter with a duvet on their bed. Also their bed sizes don’t exactly correspond with the U.S. like King, Queen, Full, etc. We are having our king size bed shipped here (THANK GOD!) but I’m having trouble finding sheets for it. Maybe I just don’t know where to look, but it is proving difficult. We bought a bed from Ikea for our spare room that is 160cm x 200cm but I can’t even find sheets at Ikea to fit the bed I bought there. Also, I’m having trouble finding real quality linens at reasonable prices.
3. Familiar Stores– I want my Macy’s and Nordstrom, Overstock.com, White House Black Market, etc. Many stores will ship internationally but that is very expensive. I’ve also noticed that when I can find some American brands here they are much more expensive. Makes sense, but I’m not loving that. Again, I’m sure in time I will find new stores and brands, but for now, I’m missing my favorites.
2. Closets!– There are no closets built into rooms in German apartments. Apparently if they did, it would count as an extra room for tax purposes. Thankfully we have a cupboard for coats and linens in the hallway and the owners left a big wardrobe in the master bedroom, but where do you put your mops and brooms and vacuum and all the other crap that you want to hide from sight? I’ve gotten a few other wardrobes, but I still haven’t figured out the storage situation for household stuff.
Drum rollllllllll……..the Number One thing I miss-
1. Ability to Communicate– I know a bit of German but it is woefully inadequate to communicate on anything but a very basic level. In my opinion. if one is going to live in Germany, one must learn to speak German. I feel very hindered by my inability to communicate well with the German people. I will be starting language courses in a few weeks. Hopefully over time, this too will get better.
Missing things from home is something everyone goes through when they move to a new country. I was expecting it. There are MANY things that I have found that I really love that is different from the US too. I will talk about them next time. 🙂