This is a post I wrote my third night in Berlin…let the culture shock commence.
I call this “Late Night Confessions” because I am currently awake at 2 A.M. (Berlin time), after having fallen to sleep only three hours beforehand. You guessed it: jet lag. As most of you know, I recently flew to Berlin to get a bit of traveling out of my system before settling down and finding that real-world job. I arrived here two days ago now, I guess (who really knows), and it has been a whirlwind. Having traveled to many European countries and having lived in London for four months, I have never explored any part of Germany before. I cannot sleep because all of these new things are swarming around in my head. So here are my rambling thoughts and cultural revelations:
- Today I had to teach a German boy how to spell. It became awkward when I realized I did not know how to pronounce their letters. I do now. Their pronunciation for the English “y”…I’ll let you just look that one up. Not so similar.
- There are bees everywhere. They are on all of the food in the bakeries, and Germans just swat them away like they’re flies. How do you spot an American? They are those who are running away from the bees and doing everything within their power to avoid them (AKA me). I pride myself on the fact that I’ve never been stung by a bee or wasp before. Knock on wood. I have a feeling this will be short-lived. I would say the bees are equivalent to the prevalence and harassment of American mosquitos…but that just leads me to a whole other topic. See number four.
- Whenever I am around Germans who speak too fast, I just nod my head and stare back. When they laugh, I laugh. That is as far as it goes as of now with most of them. Some are patient enough and wait for me to spit out some German. Yes, I meant to use the word “spit.”
- So, the mosquitos…basically they are also everywhere and find their way into my apartment and just sit on the walls ready to attack. That’s not the problem though (although, yes, that does pose somewhat of a problem). The main issue is that they are HUGE. And I’m not exaggerating. In an attempt to prove my point, they even have these two long antenna-like hairs on them that drape down their nasty “little” bodies. They come in through the window, because we have to leave the bathroom window open to prevent mold. I’ve begun to keep every door closed to keep them in the bathroom if they do come in…but they still get through somehow. Right now, there are three in the kitchen. I know they’re there, and they know I know they’re there, you know? But, they stay so high up just to bother me so that I can’t reach them. Or maybe because they’ve seen me kill fourteen of their friends. Yes, I’m counting. I’m not actually sure why I am; I suppose it motivates me that I have power over them. I may’ve basically broken the bed last night trying to hit one way up high with a shoe, but the main point is that I got him to surrender eventually, and he is now splattered on the wall. Ahem, anyway, a bit morbid, but you get the point. They haven’t made me crazy.
- Moving on. The landlord here owns the place. I mean that in more than just the literal sense; yesterday, I walked into my apartment building, and a man said a lot of things to me in German. All I made out was something about a flower. Well, I went downstairs to my door and it was wide open. Yes, although I had locked it, it was open for anyone to come into. And what was on the table? A flower, along with a cell phone and jacket. I quickly made sure everything in my room was there and then locked the door. Even though I still had someone’s cell phone and jacket, it scared me. He then knocked on the door and called someone so they could translate. The girl on the phone said he is the landlord and has a key to all the doors, even the family’s house for whom I am aupairing. The flower wasn’t for me; he had a birthday party to get to in the afternoon. Now I know why there’s a single key for my bedroom. I now lock my door all the time. Fun fact: he sounded exactly like the man who drives the characters in Eurotrip to Eastern Europe when they think they’re going to Berlin. The ironic part is that he is apparently from Eastern Germany where they learned Russian instead of English because they were part of the Soviet Union.
- Germans eat bread constantly. And for their dinner? One small slice of bread with marmalade. That is usually for breakfast, too. Naturally, I sometimes have two breakfasts and dinners.
- Chocolate croissants (my favorite) are only one euro. Das ist sehr gut, ja!
- “J’s” are pronounced as “Y’s”. “I believe it’s called ‘yogging,’ with a silent ‘J.’. Apparently, you just run for extended periods of time.” Thank you Ron Burgundy for teaching me this beforehand.9.It is actually pretty hot in Germany in September. Who knew? Not me.
- Carbonated mineral water does not quench your thirst, people. When I get water out of the tap, everyone stares. I like the all-natural. However, I have also noticed that the tap water has an “egg-like” after-taste. Not a fan. (I later found out that this is because the water is filled with sulfur…which is bad for you. Shout-out to you, Mom, for always having my back).
- I heard that Germans like their personal space. That has proven to be very, very wrong.
- I feel like I’m inThe Sims game; language and all. I’m still waiting for a green diamond to appear over my head.
*Note: I have nothing against Germans or Germany. I am simply becoming adjusted to it all, and honestly, I think the ones I’ve met are extremely funny and nice. And they think that I’m funny, too (although not for the same reasons I’m sure. Basically, I’m made fun of a lot because of my accent and lack of German knowledge, but then I’d like to see them live in America.)
P.S. I found this on the kitchen table the other day from the landlord…this flower was for me this time. Nice or creepy? I’m leaning a little more toward the creepy side…
Thanks for reading, and there’s more to come. “Auf Wiedersehen!”