Sunday, February 20, 2011

Germany, a month in

Hard to believe, it’s coming up on my one month anniversary of being in Germany! As I reflect on my first month of getting used to life in a new country, some things are easier to get used to than others…

The good-

The cost of living

Coming from Vancouver, where rents are some of the highest in North America, I’m amazed at how reasonable rents are! Definitely depends on area, income etc… but for the most parts, rents are very reasonable. The same goes for groceries, car insurance, furniture and well, pretty much everything. Except electronics.

My job-

So far, I’m really enjoying my job. Or well, learning about my job. Haven’t actually started actual projects yet, but soon. I love that though I work for a massive company, they’re super open minded, eager to hear my opinion and are open to change. It’s really refreshing and the opportunities and benefits are great. After my 7th month, employees are eligible for commuting expenses. Essentially, you get paid to get to work.

Driving on the autobahn-

For a speed freak like me, driving without speed limits is heavenly. Not ALL autobahns are speed free, but happily, one of them on my way to work is. I love flooring the Kia rental.

The Ex-pat support system

One of the things I was most concerned about, was having to rebuild a social circle and make new friends. Every week, I’m in awe of the people that genuinely offer their help and friendship and will go out of their way to help you. Moving here alone wasn’t easy, but already knowing I know a couple of people I can count on is priceless.

The price you see is the price you pay-

I love that whatever I shop for, whether it’s groceries, a new stereo, furniture or a cell phone contract, the price you see is the price you pay. No hidden fees are taxes. I could get used to this.

Dog friendly-

Other than grocery stores and some restaurants, I can pretty much take Lucy any where. We’ve been shopping to Ikea, on the underground, department stores, you name it.

The bad-

German radio-

I thought Vancouver radio stations were bad for repeating music. I was wrong. I’m convinced that German radio rotates about 20 songs. One of them randomly includes Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of “Somewhere over the rainbow” It’s not unusual to hear the song 10 times a day (on various radio stations) The good thing, is they don’t seem to play Justin Beiber, however, that’s negated by their apparent infatuation with all songs Nickelback.


I’m not sure I can ever get used to the fact that NOTHING is open on Sundays. Bavaria, the state that I live in, is apparently very religious. Therefore Sundays are considered “family days”. Grocery stores, shops, pharmacies, you name it. It’s all closed on Sundays. You can’t even wash your car on Sundays. Strongly going against the “everything’s closed so you can go to church and hang out with your family” point, casinos are open. And there are more casinos in Nurnberg than there are Starbucks in Vancouver!

Traffic lights.

There are an amazing amount of traffic lights in Nurnberg. Not only are they amazing in sheer volume (sometimes there’s a light where there’s no intersection) but they’re amazing in length. The other day I timed one of them (as I’d been waiting so long) and the red was almost a minute and a half. The green 15 seconds. It truly defies logic.

The language-

Though I feel like I have a slight upper hand in the fact that my grandmother was German and am at least familiar with the sound of the language. But jesus, every day that I learn a new word and have hope that I’ll one day be able to learn it, someone will say something or I’ll read something and I’m convinced there’s no hope I’ll ever learn it!

The strange…

When you rent a place, you almost always have to bring your own kitchen. Most places come stripped bare and the tenant has to provide things like light fixtures, bathroom cupboards, closets and even the kitchen sink.

As many modern furniture places as there are (and there are zillions) decent shower curtain hooks don’t exist. There are only clear plastic ones or white plastic ones.
I’m sure there will be a ton of new adventures and experiences in the coming months. I have to say, so far so good. But man, is life ever exhausting!

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