Wednesday, May 02, 2012

We'lll always have the vag...

Well, Deutschland, our turbulent relationship is quickly coming to an end.  And like all turbulent relationships (not that I've had a lot, thankfully!) I'm left scratching my head wondering where it all went wrong.  16 months ago, I stepped off the plane full of hope and excitement at the challenge and prospect of living here.  Flash forward 16 months later, and I'll be leaving you after consulting a lawyer and without an organ.  Oh, how different things could have been.... *sigh* 

But, it's not all in vain and there will be some things that I'll miss about you.  There are more things I won't (which is why I'm leaving in the first place) So, here are some of the highlights and lowlights of the things I've loved about Deutschland and the things that have slowly made me crawl up the wall.

The lowlights.  Oh, where to start... but I'll concentrate on the biggies and let bygones be bygones on the little ones!

The lack of multiculturalism-      Coming from a big city in Canada, I'm used to, love and embrace multiculturalism.  It's a white, white world here and multiculturalism is not embraced here.  After WWII, Germany offered Turkish citizens a guest worker program to come and rebuild Germany.  Well, a lot of Turkish people came, helped rebuild the country and when they stayed, settled and started familires and communities, a lot of germans got miffed.  They wanted the help to come and rebuild, but please don't stick around.  It's a really weird attitude to see and I see a lot of Turkish people (and other minorities) being treated as second class citizens.

The franconian attitude-  Though Nurnberg is technically in Bavaria, it's within a not officially recognized area called Franconia.  As best as I gather, Franconia wanted to be it's own state, but it's not.   True Franconians, will call this area Franconia and not part of Bavaria.  The closest I can relate to this is Quebec in Canada.  Quebec likes to think of it as a "distinct" society and a lot of Quebecers recognize themselves as Quebecers first and Canadians second.   Franconia is known to most Germans as having a weird dialect, having particularly cold people and, not as open minded as the rest of Germany.  It might sound terrible, but I'm getting to recognize Franconians easier, they often won't look you in the eye, on the rare occasion that they talk to you, you might get accused of stealing their bike or overhearing a conversation that goes something like "foreigners and english speakers don't belong in our country, bloody cows"

"not my fault, not my problem"-  The single pervasive attitude I've discovered in my time here is the "not my fault, not my problem attitude"  It's no secret that Germany has bureacracy, however, should something not go as scripted, the "not my fault, not my problem" defense instantly comes up.  Whether it's a landlord, travel agent, banker, server in a restaurant, furniture store, government, employer.  You name it.  Some version of "not my fault, not my problem" is the first line of defense.  Instead of working to solve it, putting you in touch with someone that can or suggesting where you can find help, "not my fault, not my problem" is the first reaction and a frustrating one at that.

The highlights.  or more accurately, the things that kept me sane and kept my sense of humor.

- the amazing friends I've made.  I've met such a cool mix of people from all cultures and walks of life.

- fests. There is seriously a festival of some sort going on every weekend within a half hour's drive from where I live.  There seems to always be something to celebrate (which makes me wonder why people in this area are so grumpy, but I digress....).  Whether it's one of the random 12 bank holidays in Bavaria, something to do with beer, wine, asparagus, fish, garlic, you name it, there's a fest for it.

- Thai food.  There is lack of decent ethnic food in Nurnberg, however, there is NO shortage of Thai restaurants.  There are as many thai restaurants here as there are Starbucks in Vancouver!  Now, they've accomodated to the local tastes (read- not spicy) but it's decent and affordable.

- The selection of wine.  As a Canadian living in Bavaria, I should be writing about beer, but since I can't stand beer, I'll concentrate on wine.  The availability and cost of wine here is ridiculous.  From cans of prosecco at my local grocery store for 0.79 cents a can to a bottle of wine at a winery for 6 euros.  The downfall to this (beyond the obvious) is that because I live in Germany, there is a bit of a need to drink more!

- the autobahn.  So what you can't go more than 30 km/h in my neighborhood or if you go 60 km/h in a 50 km/h zone you'll get a ticket, but driving on the speed free part of the autobahn at 180 km/h is an exhilirating feeling!

- the vag.  Anyone that's talked to me or read anything I've written in the past 16 months knows how much I go on about the vag.  The jokes write themselves when the public transit system is called vag and you can't have too much of a good thing.  From the vag service men sitting and smoking a cigarette after they've serviced the vag, to the little display that tells you when the vag is coming.  Yeah, I might sound like a 17 year old boy, but it's one of the small constant comforts I've found in this turbulent sea.   

Well, Nurnberg, I'm sure you'll function with out me and I know I will without you.  It's really a shame we've had to split ways so early, but at the same time, I'm glad we didn't waste any time.   I won't look back on my Nurnberg experience with bitterness, because I've learned a lot, made great friends and am a better person because of it.   And besides, Nurnberg, we'll always have the vag.

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