All posts tagged “germany

Top 5 German Habits You’ll Pick up (Against Your Will)

Don’t know about you, but I’ve always liked the expression embracing a new culture. It sounds peaceful and reassuring, and when I planned to come to Germany I used to think of myself as a Pocahontas in reverse ready to absorb and confront with open mind and arms this new teutonic world.

I soon realized, though, that if Pocahonts had known about McDonald’s, guns, stuffed turkeys and Zoey Deschanell, she would have probably spared  us some songs  and filed a couple of complaints. I also realized that there’s times in which you don’t feel as you’re embracing another culture as much as you’re handcuffed to it.

Everybody tells me that Berlin is not representative of Germany, but there’s things, little annoying habits, that I picked up along the way during my expat life in Berlin and they look 100% Deutsch to me.  I’m pretty sure you’ll pick them up too if you get to live long enough in this beautiful city.

1) Leaving bottles on the street

Kulturkonditorei: Pfand gehört daneben
My education turned me into a strict recycling machine and the thought of somebody leaving his trash on the sidewalk used to horrify me.
But.
In Germany empty bottles are not trash: they’re money. You go to the supermarket with your empties, a machine sucks them up and returns cash; for an empty bottle they give you up to 60 cents, which you can then reuse to shop.
It’s not very difficult to understand that leaving an empty bottle on the public soil of a relatively poor city is like anonimously delivering donuts to a fat camp. You lay the bottle on the ground, turn one second to your friend who’s trying to decide if the fourth club of the night should be Berghain or Watergate and zac – onomatopoeic italian sound – the bottle is gone.
You kind-of-sort-of-like give to the poor and you also avoid storing another empty at your place.
I mean, the fact that I’m just a couple of Club Mate away from buying myself a car makes me proud, but I can barely see the entrance of my apartment anymore and at this point my only hope is that the crew of Hoarding: buried alive finds me before it’s too late. Read More

Oh (no!) Tannenbaum

 O Tannebaum, O Tannebaum,
You give us so much pleasure!
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!

O Tannenbaum, says Wikipedia, is a german song composed in the 19th century. We’ve all sung it during Xmas holidays, at some point, and apparently it was such a big hit in Germany that american people decided to steal it take inspiration from it and use its melody to create the official states’ songs of Maryland, Michigan, Florida and Iowa, accidentally forgetting to let everybody know that the tune wasn’t original, just like Natalie Imbruglia did with Torn.  According to Wikipedia, its lyrics refer to the fir’s evergreen qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness. Read More

No Country For Short Men

When I first got here, I was living in a house at the borders  of a forest with an exceptionally short german guy and two tiny taiwanese men. I felt like Snow White among the dwarves, with the exception that I was the one working all day long and they were constantly home doing my laundry, cooking for me and all that stuff. It was great knowing that there was a place, in this cold gigantic country, populated by people shorter than 1.70 and that I was their king.

Unfortunately after some months they went bad, like cute Gremlins that someone inadvertently fed after midnight: all of a sudden one of them became an alcoholic, one tried to sell me ecstasy in the kitchen and the other touched my bulge in the bus.

I had to move, even though this meant losing my special place in the world and facing the awful truth that I’m just another short Italian man. And of course this affected many aspects and situations. Read More