After reading a wonderful blog post on things that annoyed the blogger about her adopted home of Senegal, I decided to write something similar about Germany.
Especially on my blog, I am a lot kinder to Germany than I ever was to Japan. I think it’s because I feel closer to Japan, so I’m harsher on it and want it to be better. On my old blog and also on Lang-8 I was forever annoying Japanese people with my posts about how my coworkers didn’t accept me, or how someone was racist to me, or how I didn’t like certain other cultural differences. Japanese people really don’t like you being critical… But it wasn’t that I was necessarily looking at Japan in a bad way, I think it’s because I had wanted to live there for so long, and I wanted Japan to love me as much as I loved it, that I was overly harsh on the country and its people.
With Germany I came here not expecting anything. I expected to just suck it up and get on with it because I wanted to work at Nintendo. But I really do love it here. Not in the same way that I love Japan. Japan was my dream – where I had wanted to live since I was little. I love Germany in that it’s safe and clean and a nice place to live. The people are lovely, the city is exciting. My work is fantastic and the people around me are amazing. But, of course, it’s not perfect here…. So here are my 4 frustrating things about Germany!
1. There are no 24 hour shops.
Anyone who has lived in Japan will tell you how amazing it is to have convenience stores open all night. In the UK, supermarkets are open 24/7. In Germany, shops in the centre close at 7 or 8 depending on what day of the week it is, and the supermarket closes at 10. When I’m coming in from a night out it’d be nice to be able to pop into a shop and buy something to snack on.. or when I’m late back like I am when I come home from Zumba, it’d be nice not to feel rushed because I only have 20 minutes left until the shop shuts.
2. Things rarely get delivered to you.
Unless you are/have a housewife/househusband, and are able to be there at all times during the day, don’t expect anything other than spam mail and small letters to be delivered to you. You will be sent on wile goose chases across the city (if you are in Frankfurt) to find which small corner shop (that closes at 4pm, by the way) your online purchase/stuff from home/care package has been sent to.
If you are very, very unlucky, your goods may be sent to the Zollamt – customs office, which is on the edge of town, about 30 minutes on the tram and another 15 minutes walking after that. Word of advice if this happens to you – always say that your stuff is a gift!! Otherwise you may have to pay extra on it!
3. The food is pretty salty.
I love German food. I don’t eat the crap stuff in the canteens anymore, so I really appreciate the good German food that I have once in a while. However, German food is really salty. I’m not sure if they, as a nation, feel particularly bad about this, but there doesn’t seem to be any obvious efforts to cut down on this.
4. (Frankfurt mainly) There are lots of homeless people.
The cities I’ve lived in before Frankfurt are Liverpool in the UK and Nagoya in Japan. In Liverpool there was a cute old man who used to play the violin on Bold Street all the time. Otherwise, there were no obvious homeless people. In Nagoya there are visible homeless people, but they are pretty sophisticated, and sit in Sakae station and paint and play instruments and watch tv on little handsets. They’re pretty pro-active about their situations.
In Frankfurt there are people with stumps for limbs, women wrapped in head scarves, young girls, men on crutches… all manner of people who make you feel so guilty for all that you have. It was one of the very first things that struck me about Frankfurt, and I tried to get involved with a soup kitchen. But no one would have me due to my lack of German skills. I was (and am still) very upset about this. A smile is the same in every language. I do give money to the women and young girls I see on the streets, but I don’t have enough to be able to give them as much as I feel I should. I feel constantly guilty about it – especially when they come into restaurants and go from table to table asking for money. I wish I was a big enough person to be able to offer them more than I do.
So, there we have it… they aren’t such bad frustrations. I think I am very mellow about living as an expat now. I’ve come to accept cultural differences as things that should not be debated or fought, but discussed and learnt from. The German way of life is constantly making me see things in new ways – I really do love it here.
If you’re an expat, I’ve love to hear your top 4 frustrating things about where you live!