Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quit staring it's rude!

People stare here all the time....not just at me but others. It really drives me nuts. Sometimes I'm all self conscious...like is my zipper down or do I have something on my face. Mostly it's for no reason at all. I try not to stare back but sometimes I want to beat them at their own game. I never win!

People shop everyday here....they have a little red riding hood type basket and they get whatever they need for a meal and off they go until tomorrow. I have not adopted that European style, we go once a week and load up. The looks we get with our over flowing cart of food by the 5 items or less people is pretty funny. Compared to them it looks like we are feeding an army, instead of 3.  My husband is the egg white man we buy 6 dozen eggs every week....our cart looks like it's always Easter. It's a bit embarrassing I feel like I have to explain to everyone staring at us.

When some people hear us speaking to each other in the store or on the bus they stare with their eyes open even wider and mouths gaping open. I promise we are not loud and obnoxious Americans....but it really makes you feel odd.

It's weird for me to go day in and day out with no one speaking to you, other than your family. When I do talk to someone that knows some English I end up talking like a 2 year old. Slow choppy sentences and sounding out every word and not proper English at all. I don't know why I do it, my daughter just looks at me and says why are you talking like that...me dunno!

What if I move back to the States and I stare and talk like that to everyone......I think I need to be sent to a re-entry assimilation back to America program. So all my bad habits will return and my new habits will disappear. I hope it's like a spa and they have towel boys etc...


Joyce said...

Speaking as one who is living re-entry this year...I'm sad to say it's nothing at all like a spa.

Kwana said...

Poor you. So sorry about the staring. That's very odd. It would not happen in NY where just everyone is different. Hang in there. I think you need a bit more telephone time with your American family.

Sonya said...

Wow you sound just like me! lol When I go to the store and start talking they all stare and don't even bother to look away when you make eye contact. In germany it's even worse because the small town I go to is not used to hearing english.

they all take their bikes and baskets and buy for a few days at a time..we are like you and stock up once a week. I can not stand the daily trips to the store.

Im always the odd ball in a group..wat do with Sonya since she is an american and not at all like us? blah. I can go months without talking to anyone else other than my husband,two kids and father in law. I live in my own world inside my house..lol

I get so tired of being stared at all the time..the netherlands is the most self absorbed country I have ever lived in and germany isnt far behind. I've never seen so many people check eachother out and whos wearing wat and oh I just have to have that so I fit in. It's enough to make you scream sometimes.

So basically..I understand :)

Grand Pooba said...

Hahaha! Yes, the towell boys would be nice.

I never thought how weird it would be not to talk to people everyday besides your own family. Sometimes, I wish I didn't speak english! LOL

I too find myself talking slowly when I talk to someone who knows little English, I end up being the stupid one!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the staring, because it seems that I'm used to it, but I think I can understand that it's intimidating.
However don't feel bad about the people staring at you when you go storing up once a week. I wouldn't say it's that uncommon. We do it, too and most people I know also go shopping only once a week...
Still, reading this I wonder what I would feel like being in the States...

Ina in Alaska said...

YIKES! Just be yourself and do your thing, stand up straight and proud! How much longer will you live in Germany? xoxo

Shelle said...

i feel for you....i know after 3 years i'd had enough...it was worse in zurich....my gosh...and obviously i wasn't rich which is just a no no there.

i think they don't buy a lot because you have to haul it up all those flights of stairs. maybe they do it because in the old days you bought everything fresh each day and it had to be eaten promptly (no preservatives). as you've probably notice their custom are still very old.

if you can find some younger people, usally the students, they usually love foreigners and they love to speak english. i'm surprised you're finding no one, Germany was definitely the easiest to get around with the language factor.

how long are you staying there Frau?

Shelle said...

oh and if you feel odd being stared at...don't ever go to India...omg i remember waiting about 4 hrs on a train platform with over 1,000 people and every single person was staring at us...the whole time. i smoked a cigarette and burst into laughter because it was too weird.

Kristina P. said...

That is very strange.

Sneaker Teacher said...

We felt the same exact weekend at the spas...we got a lot of stares and were met with gawking silence on a few occasions when we entered a restaurant or bar....it was not cool.

blueviolet said...

I can't imagine how uncomfortable that must feel to be stared at!!!

Such Lovely Freckles said...

German girl to the rescue of other Germans. :)

I have lived in the US for 10 years now. I am still being stared at by people when I speak German to my friends or my children. It's natural. People don't expect to hear anything but English.

Yes, Americans are more curious than Germans. Most of the time someone will ask me what language I'm speaking. Of course it does help that I speak English and can converse with them. :)

As for people shopping every day. That may be the truth for many, but in my family (and most people I grew up around) we had one big shopping trip a week, which we did Saturday mornings.
However, many Germans don't own two cars. And when you only have a bike to get around you will not buy a big grocery cart full of groceries. It's impossible.

Sometimes it helps to look behind a habit and find out why it's happening.

Having said all that, hang in there. Lately a lot of your posts about this experience have been sounding unhappy and disillusioned. Germany is different from the US. Not better or worse, just different. And it's not a surprise. This country was built on a completely different historical basis. I still struggle with some American behaviors. It's easy to call Americans ignorant and arrogant. But are they really? Or are they just different, because they were raised differently? :)

Janine said...

Aww that has to be uncomfortable. By the way,
There's a little something for you here :)

Debra said...

HA! The jokes on them- maybe they think you do shop every day and that's for one days worth! Stare right beck- I bet it gets better with time. Can you Skype there? And like Shelle said- they have to drag those groceries home and up the stairs and I don't know about your kitchen but some are very small with little storage. I love your way with words and entertainment!

Yvonne said...

Crap...being from Berlin and living here in Jersey for 35 years has only helped about 50% in the 'Yvonne, stop staring' category! It is a consent effort on my part to NOT be German to work on this! Maybe, because you are NOT German, you won't have this problem?!?!?!? God, I hope not for your sake. It's no fun working on this your entire life!
And soup for dinner? Your invited! Come! I promise, I won't stare ! Haha

Nancy C said...

You sound a little sad today. We're listening, we love to talk to you, and promise we won't stare.

lytha said...

ah, the staring.

now that we live in a country town, i don't get stares at the supermarket like before.

but recently i had an appt at the employment office (i'm so hoping that i can actually find a job in germany....someday????).

we didn't say a word, we just walked in, my man and i. we got some hard stares. this older man was staring at me so hard i yanked my man backwards and said WHY IS HE STARING AT US! in english, glacing back at him.

no idea. i was so angry. he was so invasive. what is it about us - before we spoke a word? i don't dress gothic (anymore). i am totally normal.

quit staring
it's rude


Matty said...

Having taken German classes in high school and college (and remembering very little), I would love to live there and try to learn the language again.

Depending on what our fridge and cabinets look like (well, what's in them), we might fill the shopping cart, or just pick up some odds and ends. And we use a lot of eggs too.

Ronda said...

I don't like to be stared at at all! Just try to ignore it and think of something else.

I would, however, love to walk and get fresh ingredients everyday. I would love to have a market, or farmers market where I could walk to and not drive.

G in Berlin said...

Staring is a big thing in Germany, as is what they call "directness" and which we would call rudeness. Have you checked out www.toytowngermany.com yet? I think you will find it really reassuring: what you may think is personal is really societal.
As another commenter said, the one cart is a result of no cars- once we bought a car and went to the big markets outside of the city center (half the price!) we found other people loading their cars up and obviously shopping for a week +.
You can buy eggwhites in cartons here in the big markets(try Kaufland) if you feel badly about wasting the yolks. My husband also mail orders protein powder- e-mail me if you would like the address.
I come from NY- no one stares at anyone there and no one cares what foreign language anyone speaks. What Americans find odd is that we consider Germany a great world power, yet sometimes they act in amazingly parochial ways.
--- Also, it's the custom to say Hello and Tschuss when entering or leaving waiting areas/rooms. You may get stared at if you don't do so. i always find that amusing, because they don't smile, so why bother to say Hello?

The Lucy and Dick Show said...

Makes you almost WANT to go about with your zipper down, or sprout another head, doesn't it? I once went to New Brunswick, (A province in Canada,) and person after person said to me: 'Yer not from here, are ya?" Until I thought I'd scream! So! I can commiserate with you, but I came home and you're still stuck there. Sorry!

Expats Again said...

I'm wondering if it isn't a small village attitude? Where we live in Munich, it seems there are people from all over the world. Still, there is a fair share of staring, mostly by middle-aged women. I think the reason most don't do a big shopping once a week is because they have refrigerators the size of a small dishwasher. Where to put everything becomes a problem.

Shady Lady said...

Frau, they must be staring because you're hot! Smile and wink. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they're starting because you're a sexy American woman!

Desert Rose said...

I think I would get lonely too if I had no one else to conversate with. And I wouldn't like to be stared at either...too self conscious to handle that! You know, you may have said it before, but I swear I've the worst memory...why are you in Germany?

Joyce said...

Hey Kathy I would be a wreck to have so many peeps staring at me, but put a few glasses of wine in me and I could give them something to stare at. smile...

♥ Braja said...

Staring? Oh, Frau, you should try West Bengal!!!!!

She Writes said...

Try China! It isn't rude, just cultural. Towel boys, yes, there must be towel boys!

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

I SO wish I'd had a re-assimilation spa to go to when I moved back from Germany. As a teenager, you feel odd enough without all that cultural difference!

honeypiehorse said...

The Japanese really stare and want to take pics with you

angie said...

Are you totally fluent in German?

You know I'm completely envious of you, right? :)

Keia said...

Dear Frau, I think we should meet in Bremen, drink a coffee together and talk some words in baby English during my lunch break. I am back at work on monday, what about that day or tuesday? bagle brothers, bahnhofstraße, 1.00 pm?)

ask lytha, she knows me personally. I think I will not stare at you (hopefully).

Would be nice to meet you!

Maggie May said...

Thats how I felt when I visited Japan!

Nuts in May

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