Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Has Living in Germany Changed You, Three?

A big nod of appreciation to Professor Chupacabra for joining the site and making most excellent observations/contributions. Her recent post of what's changed/unchanged you since living in The Fatherland definitely had me digging up my recollections to hopefully continue the discussion.

Changed - my ability to read a calendar.
I'll grant Germany, Europe and most of the world has done it properly by not only calling Monday the stat of the week but also putting it there on a calendar. Not only that, but Saturday and Sunday really are the week'end' and are dutifully placed there in physical representation. Then you have the initially confusing notion of people referring to weeks as numbers, but once you get the hang of it, there is merit in its usage.

USA only pays lip-service to such a notion and for unknown reasons has a weekend wrapping 'around' the week. Thus, you have Sunday in the first column and misleading you to think through visual representation that actually IT is the start of the week. I know, it doesn't make sense, but when you grow up with that system, and then come to Germany and try to read a calendar, it takes a long time before you start showing up to things on the right day.
Next, my ability to tell time.
Here is the straightforward way of using the 24-hour method for telling someone the time, or reading it posted somewhere which just makes sense. It just makes sense and is easy, once you get the hang of it.
But having grown up in a country that insists on using a 12-hour repeating cycle, only differentiated by the maddening 'a.m.' for 'ante meridiem' which simply means before noon, and 'p.m.' for 'post meridiem' for after noon, it takes a while to stop making mistakes. My personal favorite buffoonery centers around my inability to realize that 15:00 is 3:00 p.m. and NOT 5:00 p.m. I still make that mistake. 17:00 and 7:00 p.m. are not far behind. Regardless, I still feel like time is slipping away.

Third, my ability to write the address on an envelope.
This one isn't so bad, but here you write the street name first, house number second on one line and then post code first and then city name second on the next line. Yes, in the USA we do it just the opposite. Thus, you write the house number then street name on one line, and then city name and post code second on the next line. Small, but you'd be amazed how many people receive letters from me with scratched out mistakes. Luckily, we all agree to put the person's name on the top line, first name first, last name last.

Unchanged - My love of Dr Pepper
I'm not entirely sure why, but you can't find this delicious elixir in Germany except the rare autobahn gas station or of course the important "English Shop" here in Cologne. Now I love that shop, but I'm not always excited to pay 3 Euros for a single serving dose. I will admit that I've gone into delerium tremens now and then and break the emergency glass to go get my fix. But seriously, given an entire culture that is quite fond of discussing health in terms of your feces, uses feces as the basis for most of its cursing, designs toilets with handy horizontal inspection shelves, why in the world would they NOT want to import some carbonated prune juice and keep the joy flowing?

If we're talking about sugar-bomb madness I miss, let's throw in Strawberry flavored Twizzlers, too. I just got back yesterday from a business trip to the USA, and you can bet your britches I brought back two 5 pound bags of those candy rope delights!