When it comes to adapting to a new country, I have a lot of experience. However, this time I have not had the easiest time adapting to my new environment. While I do not believe in using toxic positivity to cover up our real feelings about anything, I do believe there is value in focusing on the positive. That’s why I am challenging myself to write 5 things I love about Germany.
Focus on the environment
One of the first things I had to adjust to when it came to daily life here, was how garbage is disposed of in Germany. It’s not as simple as it was in India, or Myanmar where, unfortunately, everything was going to the same place. Germany has a great system where you pay a deposit for many of your bottles, both glass, and plastic. When you return them to the shops, you get that deposit back. Most shops have a machine, like this photo on the right, that accepts the bottles and prints out a coupon for the total value of your bottles. It’s an amazing incentive to recycle.
On top of that, many more products are sold in glass bottles and jars than I have found in any other country. I love the idea of simply reusing these bottles, filling them up again, instead of melting them down and starting all over.
Lots of Food Options
While the traditional German food of bread, meat, and beer is not my style, I have been able to find a variety of foods that do suit my tastes in Germany. When it comes to going out, I find there are always vegetarian and vegan restaurants around. They are usually quite open about sharing the ingredients even in things like veggie burgers. I often see options where I can replace bread on a sandwich with a salad instead, which makes me very happy. I realize the irony in ordering a burger with no meat and no bread, but hey, it works for me!
In the grocery store, I’m also pleased with the selections of organic foods, options without sugars, and the types of superfoods that I mostly dreamed about finding in Myanmar. I can always get good seeds like flax and hemp, and I have found various brands of low sugar chocolate to experiment with. I am quite satisfied in the food department even though I never expected food to be one of the 5 things I love about Germany.
Transportation is Easy
In the places I have been, it’s quite easy to catch public transportation. The information is mostly clear, and I can get to where I want to be without a car. There is a tram near my home. It will take me to the central train station in 10 minutes, where I can get a connection to wherever I want to go. I have taken trains to Berlin, Frankfurt, and even a tiny town outside Frankfurt where a friend lives. Even when we have 3 connections to reach a destination, I have always found the stations to be well organized. Overall, transportation has been a positive experience in Germany.
It’s So Quiet!
After living in India, anything would probably seem quiet. But I love that when I am in my apartment, I never hear my neighbors. None of the doors in my building slam. Even when there is construction in my building, there are specific hours where work can be carried out. That includes a midday break that is long enough for a quiet lunch as well as a nap, and I am very grateful. I sometimes worry that we are much louder than our neighbors and might be bothering them!
Even the streets are so much quieter than India, I assume because of regulations about cars and engines. We can walk along the main road and still talk while we walk. Who knew the quiet would be one of the top 5 things I love about Germany!
People Seem to Feel Free
What I mean to say here is it appears people are free to be whoever they want in Germany. I dance around it a bit with “seem” and “appears” because I don’t really know how the people feel. I think its well known that Berlin is a place where all kinds of lifestyles and cultures mesh together, but from my very limited experience, this seems to be the case in other cities in Germany as well. I’m afraid like anywhere, small towns can be homogenous and people may not feel free to express themselves so openly.
Last Sunday was Halloween. I went to another city just half an hour away to meet up with an international group I am a part of. I met someone from Ireland. He told me that he came to Germany so he could just be himself, in a way he can’t be there. I found that interesting. But I wasn’t able to pinpoint what that is apart from being in a foreign country. It’s always easier to change when we are away from routine. And easier to be different from what our families expect when we are not near our families. But I wonder if it’s more than that in Germany.
While people-watching around the train station, I couldn’t always tell who was dressed up for Halloween and who wasn’t. They might just be wearing what they wear. It occurred to me how frequently over the past two months I have seen people presumably wearing costumes or presenting a unique appearance that no one seemed to give a second glance to. So while it’s hard to explain, this diversity in how people dress and present themselves is one of the things I love about Germany.
It wasn’t as hard as I expected to come up with a few things I love about Germany. I still have a way to go before you will be hearing me say how much I love Germany in general but stranger things have happened. Working on my mindset is a hobby so I may see how far I can take that if I find out we will be here for a long time. In the meantime, I can practice being okay on the inside even when my outside circumstance is less than desirable.