Thursday, November 13, 2008

Life Begins in Germany

Many of you know the adventures that we have experienced since our first days here in Bremen. The failing to “DO as Germans do” and learning the rules as we go. But for those of you who don’t, I thought I’d sum up our first seventeen weeks!

In the beginning it seemed that everyday something “tragic” was going to happen. If the slightest thing went wrong, that would be our tragedy for the day, because nothing seemed to be going right by Katelyn and my terms for the first ten days here in Germany.

We started off with many electrical problems; first my blow dryer “blew up” with the converter, that was the start of my series of one bad hair day after another, then we were without lights in our bedrooms and bathrooms, plus a pluming problem on top of it all. We spent many days waiting for repairman and waiting some more. In Germany they will come Monday …when on Monday? Just Monday? Might not be this Monday but maybe the next day or so. Well you don’t dare go anywhere because chances are that is when they will come! None of the repairman spoke English - none! Not even a little! This is when I started playing charades and have been doing it successfully for seventeen weeks.
It took some time but the house repairs were finally completed and then our most painful problem, phone and Internet, even more of a challenge to get here in Germany. It takes many service workers and several days for that, finally a month a later and three trips to the store for the right phone we were up in running. I swear I thought we were getting “Punked”! I kept waiting for Ashton to jump out from somewhere! Everyone we would tell our communication nightmare to their response was always “Welcome to Germany “ or “But of coarse you are in Germany”.
Katelyn and I played a lot of cards and read a lot during our month without a way communicate with the outside world…. then school started and I was left alone to figure everything out alone!
Grocery shopping here was always a challenge. At first I wandered the aisle looking for something vaguely familiar and when you do find it; It’s a feeling of winning the lottery.
At first I thought I’m going to be vegetarian because the meat tastes so different but I could not figure out how to buy fruit and veggies. Every time I would bring fruits and veggies up to the clerk to buy they would say something in German and I would leave without fruit and veggies! Finally figured out you have to weigh and pre-mark the produce! There you have it. …Easy uh? Grocery carts; you need a token or a euro to use - that only took me a week of hand carrying groceries to figure out. Oh and by the way nobody at the grocery store speaks English. I basically cook a lot of the same meals just every recipe is minus a few ingredients. But sadly they do not have Coffee Mate Creamer, and many other things that are too sad to talk about. At first I didn't think I would survive with the food here but you quickly adapt and I have gained about ten pounds being here!! It’s the Bread oh my god the Germans make the best bread!! Then there is the Chocolate, most incredible Chocolate I have ever had…. followed up by my favorite the BEER!

Lets talk about Katelyn ….she is in a class of fourteen kids and she is one of five girls. There are three Americans in total. She loves her teachers and her classes and has become fast friends with many kids in her school that consist of about 260 kids grade pre K –12th.
She rides her bike most days, about 4 miles each way, if not takes a bus, tram and another bus to get to school. She discovered one of the first German Laws we learned…. It is against the law to ride your bike and talk on the cell phone! Okay I know that sounds reasonable but we are not talking about on the road it’s a bike path and a wide one at that.
Katelyn was pulled over by the Police only after ignoring them has they drove along side her yelling at her! About a block later they pulled over blocking the path still Katelyn thought it could not be about her and continued to ride…she finally stopped and was yelled at and interrogated and got off on a warning! It’s a 25 Euro fine if caught! I found it amazing because cars speed up and down the roads and kids are always drinking and riding their bikes, smoking and double riding etc… worse things then a phone call but It’s the Law.

Craig is enjoying his job and he to rides to work everyday about 17 miles round trip. He has not broke the cell phone law which surprises me but he did ride his bike into a moving tram and made off without a scratch. He's fine but we own more life insurance as a result.

We have learned you MUST pay a TV and radio tax. We don’t even have a TV but we do have a clock radio! 51 Euros a quarter if you don’t pay I think they ….I hate to think what they would do. You MUST let the Chimney inspector in to inspect it is the LAW.
Can’t cut the lawn on Sundays it’s the LAW! At fourteen you can legally have sex in Germany and drink with your parents, sixteen is the legal drinking age here. But you cant' get a drivers license until you're eighteen! Nothing really shocks us anymore ….we always say, "Well ya know, we are in Germany! "
Everyday I’m shocked by how many people do NOT know English …I know I’m in Germany and they are probably shocked that I do NOT know German. But lets sum up :
The repairman NO
The grocery clerk NO
The lady at cleaners NO
The people at Bank NO
The DHL deliveryman YES
The Mailman ALITTLE
Most Waiters and waitress at restaurants NO or maybe ALITTLE
Everybody knows a little but that’s all they say is the word A LITTLE
So yes, I will be learning German but probably just ALITTLE!


pattycorn said...

Now that's a post!!
Your blog is so pretty.
We need more pictures, especially of the gay penguins.

Ina J Offret said...

OK getting up to speed on you. VERY FUNNY POST!!! Read it out loud to my husband this morning!

Nic said...

I stumbled upon your blog and couldn't help but laugh. My sister and her family lived in Germany for several years (they are back home now) and she actually had her son while living there. They have many similar stories to tell about life in Germany. As difficult as it could be at times, they adjusted well and I actually think they would go back if the opportunity presented itself. So take heart, you will adjust.

Maybe the next time you need to give a service person directions, you could type it into the computer(the instructions) and then use some of the free translating software out there to translate it to German. It would make it a little easier.

Kristin said...

Hi there ... I stumbled upon your blog through the comment section of someone else's blog. Being German myself I find it very interesting to read about your experiences.
By the way: You have to pay the GEZ tax only if you really own a TV or radio. If you have no TV, you only pay the fee for the radio, which is way smaller (17 Euro/3 months). Problem is ... if you once registered a TV, they will make it hard to de-register it. They usually want an explanation about what happend to the old TV, and their internet "service" doesn't allow de-registrations. They might send someone to check if you really don't have a TV.

About the fruits and vegetables: We Germans are confused as well ... some grocery stores started to weight them when you pay, some still have the old system. You always have to check for scales ...

Okay, I'm going to read some more ... :)