Friday, May 20, 2011

Pleasantville


Recently, some friends asked me how I was liking Germany so far and what I thought were the good (and not so good things) about my past 4 months in Germany. There are definitely lots of great things (cost of living, autobahn driving, work/life balance etc…) and some extremely challenging things (traffic, the language, the atrocity that is my pollen allergies, cost of health care etc…) but the best way to FULLY describe my German experience so far is to say it’s like the movie Pleasantville.


You see, living in Germany is almost like a throwback to the 1950’s but with some current day elements. For instance, the crime rate is extremely low and trust level extremely high. My neighbors leave their bikes unlocked, entire cases of beer in the garage next to their car and the doctor sends me a bill every few months knowing that it will eventually be paid. In the world of North America, this would be unheard of: the bikes and beer would be stolen and the doctor won’t look at you until you prove your medical coverage.


Also, the fact that this country is still fairly religious and church bells go off several times a day and of course the nothing open Sundays. I remember growing up as a kid in Montreal hearing some church bells, but I also remember them being banned because they were too bothersome.


People still call each other “frau” and “herr” in everyday conversation (the equivalent of Mr and Mrs) to be fair, this tradition seems to be mainly prevalent in the older crowd.


Despite all this, it’s still as modern a culture as everyone else and every ex pat I know has adapted to living in Pleasantville Germany quite well. People swear that they love that the shops aren’t open on Sundays (I still grocery shop on Saturdays looking like I’m preparing for a nuclear war knowing I can’t get anything the next day) In a way, it’s refreshing to have all of the modernities of life, without any of the headaches like worrying about crime rates and homelessness but I can’t help that it also feels a smidge na├»ve. I’m sure this isn’t the same for all cities in Germany, but that’s what Nurnberg feels like. It’s like a trip back in time… to a kinder, gentler and less hectic place. But it definitely takes some getting used to!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As for the trust: Two days ago, a Chinese expat student at the university cafeteria noticed that she did not have enough money to pay what she had on her tray. Without much ado, the cashier waved her through with the student having to promise to come back the next day and pay for her meal.