Things I've Surprisingly Gotten Used To:
- Sucky weather. I got so used to it that when good weather came I didn't know how to react. But my mood lifted like crazy, until a random day of cold dark weather, in which it dropped from its high.
- People not moving on the sidewalks. When someone is coming in your direction, your ganna have to move, cause they won't. This makes me wonder what happens when two Germans walking in opposite directions pass one another. Must be cataclysmic.
- Class's "falling out" (snaps for Claire's direct translation). In school, when teachers don't come, you don't have class. No substitute, just no class. Free time. I think I'm ganna die when I come back to substitutes and busy work.
- Not smiling at babies and dogs. NOT SOCIALLY APPROPRIATE HERE AND SO FREAKING HARD TO RESIST!
Things I Don't Think I'll Ever Get Used To:
- Seltzer Water ( ALL water here is with bubbles, and despite my year long exposure to it, I can't drink it. My family thinks I'm nuts that I drink from the tap)
- Lack of shorts/skirts. Lets just say its been over 20 for a couple weeks now, and NOT ONE person in my class has worn shorts or skirts.
- Meals. My stomach, after 16 years of having Dinner as my biggest meal, is still not used to lunch being the biggest and eating practically nothing for dinner.
- Using the formal and informal versions of "you" (much like in Spanish). I can't seem to remember that when speaking to strangers or elders I should use "Sie". With strangers its not a big deal, but the elderly here get really peeved if you don't show respect.
I also wanted to discuss the grimy parts of living in the countries capital.
1. Gypsies. Yeah, yeah, Ezmerelda was cool and pretty in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but these ladies are no Disney characters. With gold teeth, long skirts, and always seeming to have a baby in their arms, I find myself avoiding certain parks and train stops so I don't run into them. They always ask the same question, "speak English??" and when I first came here, I fell for it! EVERY TIME! I kept thinking it was someone needing directions. But once you say yes, they'll hand you a card explaining some tragic story and asking for money. I think it goes way too far when I see them training their young kids to beg for money or when they come into restaurants or coffee shops to beg. So if your ever asked in Berlin if you can speak English, don't answer.
2. Pfand Diggers. In Germany, they have a system in which if you give back the bottles you buy for soda/water/etc. then you receive money back (Pfand). Its similar to what the states has with cans, except it gives back a lot more. Its a way of encouraging people to recycle and not just throw away their bottles. But this invites a huge group of homeless people to spend their days going through all public trashcans looking for bottles. Some will come with flashlights to look into them, and some come into trains to check those trashcans. THIS goes too far when you are in the park or at a picnic and they come and wait for you to finish drinking and then snatch your bottle. But many people work with them, giving them the bottles to get them out of the way.
3. Neo- Nazis. Now, Berlin's a bit different from the "East-German-Hood" (as we CBYXers have named it) of my past host family. In the EGH, the neo Nazis you see are indeed that- nazis. They are real and scary and truly believe in those ideals. But in Berlin I find it to be different. The neo-nazis are just punk kids trying to look tough, who drink a lot and pee on city buildings and all seem to have a huge dog with them ( I was napping in a park once and one of their dogs licked my face...). They won't hurt you, their just sort of douchebags. BUT the other day I saw a guy with a swastika tattooed on his forehead, technically illegal, but that's a good sign he was legit. One just has to remember to speak German when their around you, as to not raise your hand as a foreigner.