Sunday, 25 November 2012

Normality...(or not)

Having read Hannah Garside's latest, along with a couple of other year abroad blogs, it seems that now is the point at which life overseas is starting to feel like normality for many of us. This 'normality' has several distinct effects - principally, that many things which seemed alien to us at the beginning are now becoming as second nature  - for example:

Being able to pay separately at restaurants/caf├ęs - a very useful little device that means the waiter/waitress does all those awkward little sums that you inevitably get wrong anyway and never have the right change for...

Deciding who to say 'du' to and who to say 'Sie' to - the tricky concept of, basically, who to be polite to (Sie) or not (du). If you're someone's friend you don't have to be polite (no Sies there), but if they're older than you you probably do, but if they're a bit more modern they might ask you to 'duz' them (pronounced 'doots' - yes, really) and might be a little bit offended that you were so polite to them (makes them feel old). Ok, I'll be honest, I haven't quite got this one down yet.

Being waited on in pubs - I do love this one, just an excuse to be lazy really. I'm sure I'm going to forget to go up to the bar at all when I go back to the UK.

...and finally riding a bike on the right hand side of the road, while having cars and even pedestrians stop for you, who aren't angry when you ring your bell to tell them to get out of the way!

However, there are still some things I'll never understand: namely, always opening the window (bad air apparently), even when it's freezing cold outside and you're required to put your jacket on to counter to rush of cold air that blasts into the room when you do so!

Also wearing jeans to go out. I am currently undecided on this matter - it does make things a heck of a lot easier to prepare (spontaneous clubbing plans can occur within half an hour of their conception), but where are the party dresses? I do actually like getting dressed up every once in a while!

Having to pay to go to the toilet. Not in the house (obviously!), but in public toilets there's always a charge of 50 cents, which you have to put in a little machine (like a ticket barrier) before it will let you through. Madness!

The sum total of all this German-ness is that I am actually starting to forget English words! It took me ten minutes yesterday to think of the word for 'tug-of-war', and I gave up trying to work out what 'meringue' was in the end and had to look it up. Not that these are particularly important words (you  never know!), but this is distinctly worrying - I'm hoping it doesn't go further, otherwise I'll get to the end of the year and not even be able to remember my own name. Helga, anyone?

p.s. There's a great list of Germanisms that someone else made on their year abroad a couple of years ago - pretty factually correct, if not exactly scientifically observed.... Have a peek: http://www.uberlin.co.uk/what-i-know-about-germans/

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