30 July, 2009

Refrections from a New Land - Part One

I've been in Germany - in my new life - now for 3 weeks and have began to notice things more. I think the first few days/week was a combination of shock ("OH. MY. GOD. I'm in Germany!!!") and de-stressing, so i didn't really take in much.
But things have calmed down a lot now, and I've actually started thinking about things again & be more aware about me & my surroundings.

Here are a few things i've observed in the last week or so:
  • I'm more Japanese than British. People ask me about the differences between things here & in England and i can't answer. I have no idea how things are in England. I can compare with Japan - I know Japan. But England/Britain? For example, I don't know the current TV shows; I don't even know how many TV channels there are anymore. It's weird being British, but not really British.
  • Despite all the complaints we all make/made in Japan about the lack of English, Germany is the same (but different). In Japan, communication skills are severely lacking & you'd be hard pushed to find someone in offical-dom who actually speaks any English. Saying that, all the forms & official papers are (in the most part) bilingual. Germany is the complete opposite. The majority of people here have an amazing level of English, however all the official bits and pieces are in German only; which is very challenging when you have to fill out forms or find out where to go or what to ask for. Even the website for the city office is only in German. This has made grateful for the limited English in Japanese officialdom - something i never ever thought i would grateful for!
  • Everything starts later here. I guess in Japan (well, the kanto area, at least) most people are reliant upon public transport and/or live hours away. That means parties & the like usually start around 7pm and finish by 11 or 12. Here, nothing really gets started till around 10pm. And when i was in Britain, it wasn't any different because the pubs all closed at 11pm. Not sure how things are in other European countries. Not even sure about licensing laws here - everything seems to be open all the time...
  • I love Summer Time. I like the fact that it's still light at 9pm. I like that it doesn't get truly dark until around 10:30pm. And i like that there are lots of bars & cafes where you can sit outside in the evening. Always associated open air cafe culture with France & Italy, but it's also a big thing here in Stuttgart. Lovely.
  • The beer isn't served as cold as i expected. I'm used to drinking ice cold beer (as i said before, i am more japanese than british...), but here it's more 'cool' than 'cold'. K explained that it's so you can actually taste the beer & only shitty beer should be served ice cold. Not too sure about this - am too used to drinking it cold, but i am sure with some training, I'll be able to adapt...
  • The really fast autobahn isn't as fast as I'd been led to believe. Yes, it is true that the autobahn has no speed limit - but not for all of it. Some speed limits makes sense; ie near junctions or really windy (in both senses of the word) bits. However, there are others that don't. For example, there are speed limits because of the old road surface; which is OK in itself. However, a few kilometres down the road, there'll be another speed limit because of a NEW road surface. Go figure. AND there are a lot of road works. So, as an example, from K's hometown (Mülheim) to here (Stuttgart) is about 400km. Of that, i would guess around half (if that) has no speed limit. Kind of defeats the point of not having a speed limit when you have to drive at 60 to 100kph half the time.

And those are some of the things i've noticed. Bear in mind that these are the observations of a complete newbie & i may be completely wrong in my assumptions, but this whole living-in-Germany thing is a work in progress & there are going to be some mistakes along the way.

I have been uploading photos to Facebook, so go have a look there for Stuttgart piccies. If you're not on Facebook (or not my friend on FB) yet, here's the link for my photo album


Kristen said...

Such interesting points, particularly reflecting back on Japan. I am sure you will get used to the temperature of German beer before too long, though!

Sandi said...

K is absolutely right about the beer. My dad, a true beer snob, has always said that only crap beer needs to be served cold.