During our culture training, the instructor spoke to us about culture shock. Everyone who moves to a different country will experience it. It is to be expected.
Hubby and I knew that we would go through ups and downs. I’ve talked a lot about the great things about moving so far, which is good, because I want to focus on the many, many positives of our new adventure.
But, to be honest, there’s been a lot of frustrations, too. We are on the down portion of the bell curve, away from the honeymoon phase and towards anxiety. I tend to get anxiety in life anyway and adding all of this craziness to the mix is just making me certifiably crazy.
I do want this little place on the world wide web to be an honest account of what’s happening with me, including this move. I want and hope to look back on this post in 6 months and laugh!
People hanging up on you
Several times one of us has called a restaurant to ask if they do take out/to-go food. Sometimes we get lucky and they understand our poor German or we understand their better English. But, the majority of the time, the person on the other end of the line don’t understand us, so they just hang up. And it’s not like we’ve been on the phone trying to figure this out for 5 minutes. It’s literally us asking a question in German, they don’t understand, we ask if they speak English, click.
Living out of a hotel
I don’t know if this counts as a culture shock, per se, but this has been probably the most frustrating thing about this whole move. We don’t have a kitchen. We barely have a fridge. We have no direct access to laundry. We just paid almost 200 euro to have the hotel wash socks and undies. We are reliant upon restaurants for dinner and sometimes the last thing I want to do is go out to eat. See above for trying to find food to go…and then adding to that frustration!
Sense of urgency
Germans are not very urgent people from my interaction with them so far. Our apartment hunt is a prime example. There is no sense of urgency to find us a place to live, unless it’s coming from us! When you go out to restaurants, there’s no sense of urgency to pay your bill, get a refill, place your order, nothing. Sometimes, having a slower pace is a nice thing. But the other 98% of the time, it is annoying! You’re having a great time at dinner, but then your wine is empty, your plate is clean and then your waiter has disappeared. There have been times where I have thought they must be passed out in the back because we have not seen them for so long. BUT, once you ask for the bill, when they come, you best be ready to pay RIGHT THAT SECOND! They stand there as you dig through your wallet to see if you have enough cash and wait for you to hand them money. It was jaunting at first, but getting used to it.
Not knowing where to go for information
A huge point of contention so far is not knowing where to go to look for information. We need a German phone number and know that Hubby’s company offers a discount for a provider, but we had no idea where to look for information on the discount. After a week of trying, we finally found it, but the fact that it took us that long to find something is annoying. Between asking co-workers, looking on websites and then using Google Translate, and just searching ourselves, it has been quite exhausting.
Not knowing the language
This is huge, obviously!! The majority of people can speak English, but when you’re at lunch or in the office and everyone is speaking German, sometimes I feel like a deaf mute. I can’t understand what anyone is saying and I can’t speak to anyone, either. I yearn for the day when I can walk into a restaurant, understand the menu and order in German. That day can’t come soon enough.
Of course, the good outweighs the bad. At some point we will get to that adjustment and acceptance part of the culture shock bell curve. I’m just not a very patient person. I want it now. But, I guess I’ll just have to wait. Damn it.
I have certainly touched on some of the cultural differences between life in Germany…
You would think getting mail would be the same everywhere, wouldn’t you…