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
My education turned me into a strict recycling machine and the thought of somebody leaving his trash on the sidewalk used to horrify me.
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