What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

"A year of of my life. My life in a year."

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Not Weird, It's Different

If you look at a calendar, it will tell you I have been here for 7 full days. Well, the calendar lies. I have been here two, maybe three days tops, and that’s if I am being generous. In these past few days, there is not a single thing I would change. It is said that the first two weeks of long term exchanges are the most difficult, and if this is true… well I don’t understand how it could be true because I can’t imagine in being any better than this. School starts tomorrow, and this is the first time in years that I have actually been excited for school to start!

But that’s not the point of this post. Taking into account all the things I heard about Germany before leaving, the past week I have been taking mental notes about the differences between Hameln, Germany and California, USA with the Rotary expression in mind “it’s not weird, it’s different.” Some things you might have heard about, while other concepts might come as a complete shock to you, nonetheless here is the list of things I have come up with (alongside some commentary from yours truly) solely from being here for one week:

Eins. People in California say the Autobahn is fast. They are wrong. It is not JUST fast, cars go at lightning speed. Whenever my parents mention going to Hannover (the large city near my town), I can feel myself begin to shake at the thought of needing to travel on the Autobahn for 40 whole minutes because the racing speeds terrify me. People are considered 'slow drivers' driving 120 km/h (about 75 mph).

Zwei. In America most ‘cargo’ trucks have big faces on them to advertise things for different companies. Trucks here in Germany solely have words on them, and occasionally colors, but never faces.

~ On the note of trucks, there are absolutely NO ‘personal’ trucks. I have been here a full week and have yet to see a single Ford (or any brand for that matter) truck... yet it seems every other person in California has one.

~ And also on the notes of vehicles, I have yet to be in a car with an automatic transmission. Manual transmissions are much more common here.

~License plates are also completely different and the first 1-3 letters of the plate stands for the town the person lives in.

Drei. Unlike in America, beer is extremely cheap. My host-sister says it’s because “beer is our drink.”

~ Also, I have yet to have a single glass of milk. We only use steamed milk for our coffee.

~ “Natural spring water” does not exist. Only Mineral Water which is essentially soda water. To be quite honest I do not particularly enjoy always drinking plain soda water and therefore usually mix it with juice.

Vier. In California, when at a stoplight with arrows (rather than the entire circle being filled), the arrow is colored. Here, the area around the arrow is colored and the shape of the arrow is unlit.

~ Lights turn yellow before turning green again. ~ Rather than there being a hand telling people to walk across the street, it is a lit up person that is green or red depending on whether or not the person should walk.

Fünf. Electronics and appliances are different. Just take my word on that one. The plugs look completely different. The light switches are essentially fat blocks about the size of my palm and to turn the light on, you press down rather than up. If you want hot water from the faucet, you turn it to the left (this definitely took some getting used to because if I want to cold water at my home in California I turn the faucet to the right). There is an outlet under almost every light switch. Ethernet cables are still in use!!

Sechs. I think I have seen… maybe 3 different gas stations. In California there is one on seemingly every corner.

Sieben. Apparently, the candy “smarties” has chocolate in the middle. These are not smarties! Smarties are essentially compressed pixie sticks!

Acht. Teenagers actually shake each other’s hands when greeting one another. In California this is normally solely used as a very formal method of introduction, rather than a regular greeting.

Neun. (My personal favorite.) For obvious reasons, everyone who speaks English, speaks British English (think, “What a pity”, “rubbers” –instead of erasers- and "bloody hell")

Zehn. The music scene is COMPLETELY different. I cannot even begin to describe this…

Elf. House/pet sitting is a completely foreign concept.

Zwölf. And, the most obvious of them all. EVERYTHING is in German.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Angie!

    This was a funny blogpost, I really like to read about first impressions! :-)

    All the best!



Days in Germany