Anywhere you live there are going to be quirks. When my family moved to Houston in 2001 the big thing was the Texas heat and humidity and how chatty everyone seemed. In Indiana it’s not buying beer on Sunday and a game called “corn hole”. Germany of course is no exception, and some of these quirks are on the magnified side as JP and I are “Ausländer” (foreigners). Here are a few that we count as “this would have been good to know before we came”, so I impart them to you now just in case you decide to visit, or want to do as we have and live in Germany for a while 😉
one// Mail — Recently JP popped a letter with officially-wofficlially documents into the mail and about a week later we got a notice saying that the post office was holding something for us. He went and talked to them, turns out the letter he sent didn’t have enough postage. He asked if he could just pay the difference or pop another stamp onto it so it could be on its way. NOPE! He had to pay for the deficient postage to GET the letter back from the post office and THEN he had to pay all over again with the correct postage – new envelope too! – to send the letter. When one is used to USPS it seems rather nutty! Though, I wonder if USPS changed its policies if they would be in less financial trouble… hmmm.
two// Eggs — as funny as it seems to be identifying eggs as a quirk, here it is. When you buy eggs (fresh and hard boiled!) in Germany you’re not going to find them in the refrigerated section like in the US. Generally they’re on a shelf somewhere between the produce and dairy. There is a label on the eggs with two dates — the first one is the date by which you need to stick em in the fridge, the second date is the drop dead date. Do not eat ’em. Don’t even think about it. You will end up not feeling great.
three// Buying Aspirin — so if you need something like aspirin, cough syrup (including herbal!) or rubbing alcohol you HAVE to go to the pharmacy here. And said pharmacy is NOT located in a DM or Rossmann (think CVS and Walgreens) like it would be in the States. Also, if you need something after 6 or 7pm you’re out of luck unless you want to go to a train station or the hospital.
four// Doctors — here doctors are SUPER specialized. Which happens in the US, but in our experience here if you have a cold your GP might send you to a throat, nose and ear specialist, or if you have an eye infection to the eye doctor if they don’t feel that they can correctly diagnose you. This proved to be especially on the frustrating side when I was in the hospital over the holidays — mainly because when I checked in they weren’t sure what was wrong with me and JP or I had to keep re-explaining that “no I had never had something happen like this before” and “the swelling only started Christmas Eve” and “I’ve had a cold for about two weeks”. It seemed like each specialization kept specialized notes for their own area on me and didn’t share with anyone else. Which also seems to be a little of the problem in the non-hospital setting too as the last week has been an example of. Meh.
five// Sundays — most of the stores are closed on Sundays, the exceptions being those located at airports or the main train station or in high tourist ares and the occasional “shopping Sunday”. This means that we have to plan ahead or eat schawarma or döner for dinner. I will say that this was a bigger deal when we were living in Hamburg. We forgot at least a dozen times, including the week leading up to the stores being closed for three and a half days over New Year’s weekend. This time around we seem to be doing a little better, even if that means at 9pm on Saturday night we’re running like crazy to grab something to eat on Sunday before the grocery store closes. 😉