Sep 12, 2013

Pros & Cons of Living in Germany: Part Sieben

PRO: The Hugo Cocktail

While this drink isn't inherently German, the first time I ever had one of these bubbly wonders I was in a bar down the street from my house enjoying a few night caps with friends. A hugo is a refreshing cocktail made up of Prosecco, lime, Elderflower liquor or syrup, fresh mint leaves, and a splash of bubbly water. While it's touted as a concontion thought up in Northern Italy, it's the German summer cocktail of choice. At least it is for me. Hugo's are light, crisp, and unbelievably delicious...the perfect drink for cooling off on the hot, air-conditionless summer days here in Germany. You can even find bottled versions of the Hugo in most German grocery stores. 

CON: Public Peeing

I swear, I think I'm always telling you guys about some weird bodily function-related issue I have with Germany, but the truth is, there are a lot of them! It's kind of ridiculous, actually. My newest aversion? Public urination. You can pee just about anywhere in Germany, as is evident by men popping out from behind trees and alleyways all over Deutschland. In America, public urination is punishable by law (as it should be). In Germany, you're not cool unless you pee on the side of a building. Or at least it seems that way. Now, I haven't been able to find concrete info on whether or not peeing in public is illegal in Germany, but from what I've deduced by living here and witnessing numerous men urinating in public (some even right near a flock of police officers), it's not a big deal as long as you're kind of sort of discrete about it. Personally, I don't care how discrete you are...it's disgusting. Not only is it gross, but it makes wherever they're urinating smell like pee, which is unpleasant no matter how you look at it. Festivals are the worst places for this, too. There are even rest stops on the side of the autobahn where you can park and enjoy a picnic-style lunch...but there are no bathrooms. So, guess what? You gotta pee...you're using the nearest tree! Makes zero sense to me. Honestly, though, that doesn't even bother me half as much as public urination WITHIN a town or city, but naturally I avoid those kinds of 'rest stops' like the plague. Maybe Germany should add a few more public bathrooms around their cities and NOT make people pay to use them. Then this whole peeing in public thing might not be so prevalent (and off-putting). Just sayin'.

  PRO: Women's Parking

While not something mandated by German law, Frauenparkplatz, also known as parking spots just for women, can be found all over Germany. Of course, as an American, this is something completely foreign to me. Parking spaces reserved for handicapped individuals or pregnant women are common in the states (as well as Germany), but parking reserved for ladies only, now that's a first. These 'ladies only' parking spots are only found in private parking areas and can be designated by the landlord or owner of the parking facility (i.e.-paid parking garage, etc.). Each parking space has to be marked as such and must be close to the facility entrance. Pretty neat if you ask me! So, why all the special attention? Because women are more likely than men to be victims of sexual assault. According to the Hessian State Office of Criminal Investigation, "the furnishing of women's parking spaces is an ideal means of raising women's feelings of safety." It seems these parking spaces have been created in an effort to reduce the risk of sexual assault related incidences for women in parking garages. I can get on board with that. Fun fact: most private parking decks have between 10%-30% of their parking spots reserved for women only.

CON: Unabashed staring

The first few weeks of living in Germany made me kind of uncomfortable. Not because of the language barrier or the cultural differences, but because I was constantly being stared at. For weeks I thought I was doing all sorts of things the wrong way...walking on the wrong streets, driving weird, wearing strange clothes, walking funny...you name it, I thought I was a complete freak of a person because of the blatant stares I was getting. Then I asked D if he was getting stared at himself. He immediately exclaimed, "YOU TOO!?" We were both victims of incessant German staring. To this day, I don't know why they do it, but Germans LOVE to stare. Even when my family came to visit, they felt the eyes on them constantly. I remember my sister asking if Germans could tell who was American...and to be honest, maybe that's why they're staring? But I like to think I've learned to blend in pretty well here, and I still get the stares. It's unnerving at times, but it's turned into something I expect to encounter everyday. Not sure I'll ever get used to it (because honestly, it's strange...especially to someone who's been taught all their life NOT to stare at people!), but I've learned to accept it as another German idiosyncrasy I'll just never understand. I've also started to notice the staring filtering into other countries around Europe. So, what's up with that Germany? Why all the stares? Is there something always on my shirt?
 
PRO: ALDI

This grocery store is my favorite little pit stop during the week. Truth be told, D and I don't shop much on the economy here in Germany. It's not that we don't want to or that we don't like/understand the food options, it's just easier for us to drive 2 minutes down the street to the Commissary on base where all of our familiar American foods are sold (tax free, mind you). But, when I want yummy German cheese, chocolate, sausages, and CHEAP, but DELICIOUS wine...I shop at ALDI. I'm sure all of my fellow American's are reading this right now and thinking hey, I shop at ALDI in the states! Good! It's awesome, right? Well, it's even better in Germany. And why wouldn't it be? Germany is where the ALDI food stores originated after all. ALDI even has quite a sordid past. The two brothers that own the grocery chain once had a spat about whether or not the stores should start selling cigarettes. One brother was opposed, the other wanted them, so they decided to split the company in half and now ALDI SÜD (South) and ALDI NORD (North) are scattered all over Germany. Did you know that your beloved Trader Joe's food store is owned under the ALDI chain? Yep. Germany thinks of everything.

CON: No Grocery Bags
via
And while we're on the topic of grocery shopping, I feel like I should mention the lack of free grocery carrying receptacles in Germany. Ok, so this could really fall under a pro or a con depending on how you look at it, but from the perspective of a brand new expat to Germany, I'd look at it as a con...at least for the first few trips to the grocery store. Upon checking out at a German grocery store, you've got to either a) bring your own reusable shopping bags or b) pay anywhere from 12 to 45 euro cent per bag you need to use to carry your groceries home from the store. This was something D and I had NO CLUE about during our first few weeks in Germany, so imagine our surprise and panic when we're in the checkout line and realize everyone's brought their own bags and we had none. Not to mention that the cashiers do not mess around while checking out. They literally slide the items across the scanner and chuck them into empty carts (bag-less) or expect you to grab your crap at the speed of light and shove them into the bags you've brought (or just bought). It's absolutely chaotic and panic-inducing to someone that's used to having everything bagged for you (and politely, at that). Probably another reason why D and I only go grocery shopping on the economy for specific items and in small doses. It's virtually impossible to shop for an entire weeks worth of groceries with how fast the check out process goes. But I guess no German would shop for a weeks worth of groceries anyway. Their tiny European refrigerators wouldn't allow it. I do have to give credit where credit is due, though. It's awesome that Germany (and many other European countries) pretty much force you to be "green" and use reusable grocery bags. They could just go a little easy on my eggs next time. Yeesh.

Until next time...Tschüss!!

*Please keep in mind that all of these pros & cons are formed simply from my experiences and perspective as an American living abroad. You can find the other installments of my Pros & Cons of living in Germany hereherehere, here, here, & here.*

51 comments:

  1. After over 10 yrs in The Netherlands I'm used to bringing my own bag (I hate having to pay for a bag when I have one at home) and also used to packing my own bags at the speed of light. The tricky part is when we visit The States, first off the waste of bags is hard to swallow, not to mention the strange looks we get when we naturally start packing our own bags. But like you said, they each have their pros and cons! :) Danica

    ReplyDelete
  2. HAHAHA, I laughed so hard when I read about the staring! I have to admit I AM German but I always think people stare at me, too! :D I think it's so annoying but I thought I was just being paranoid LOL. Obviously, I've travelled too much, I'm not very German I guess :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So funny! You've traveled the German right out of you! :)

      Delete
  3. My husband is a manager at Aldi! Wish they were able to sell the wine in New Jersey - darn laws!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You made me laugh with the staring too! In Italy, we are pretty much treated like we're local.....until they hear us speaking English to each other then it's full on staring! That drink sounds delicious.

    We love Aldi!

    Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get that sometimes as well. As soon as I open my mouth and mess up a German word, I'm caught! :)

      Delete
  5. Public peeing is a definite no no no! Yuck, seriously, why can't they find a bathroom? In Lithuania it's punishable by law (though the law is not for "peing" per se but for public misconduct) but we still get Belgian and Dutch and other tourists peeing in public.. even on our main buildings, like presidential house :D
    I'm so used to bringing my own shopping bag or buying them at the shop that getting a bag for free is sooo weird :D Vacationing in Bermuda I went grocery shopping in a tiny shop (of a tiny town). I paid for the food, turned to take my food and it was... gone. A woman was holding the items I bought and I was about to scream "It's mine, leave it alone!" when I noticed she put the goods into a paper bag and handed it to me. "Uhm, thanks..." I replied confused :D I swear, I had been seing in the movies that people sometimes got they groceries safely packed in the bags but for some reason I had never experienced it myself while shopping in NYC or UK (though due to the "training" back home, I am quick as light while packing the stuff the cashier scans so I might have just missed the packing and free bags service). But lesson learned :D Do you usually tip the people packing your food back in US?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha oh your story about the grocery bagging in Bermuda is PRICELESS! And we do tip the baggers at the US military commissaries that we shop at (they are only paid by tips), but not at regular grocery stores on the economy (they're paid by the store itself).

      Delete
  6. haha even here in Canada you have to bring your own bags to stores (at least in Ontario). They still have plastic ones, but they charge you for them if you need to use them. I kind of like how good it will be for the environment, but it is a little annoying when I forget mine (which is always....)

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was such a fun read! I lived in Austria for 3 years, so some of these really resonated with me - especially the last pro & con! (Although Aldi is called Hofer in Austria for some reason.) x

    Miho @ Wander to Wonder

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love how D is looking at you in the picture with you finger in your nose! Hahaha!

    I have to ask - when you go out to eat do you order in English? Or do you know German and can communicate?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I don't know if I've ever commented before to tell you...but I LOVE this series that you do! I enjoy reading about how our cultures are different.

    And I don't ever think I could get over seeing a guy "whip it out" it public and just take a leak anywhere. AWKWARD! Lol!

    ReplyDelete
  10. yeah, the grocery check-out process is something I definitely didn't enjoy while in France. I mean, props to the cashiers for being efficient, but I need more time to stuff my food into my grocery bags!

    ReplyDelete
  11. okay, I accidentally read "popping out from behind trees" as "pooping out from behind trees" and I was pretty darn confused. Oops.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love bagging my own groceries, I worked in Target at home for a semester in college and we had this huge class on proper bagging so I can so annoyed now when people do it wrong so I honestly just love doing it myself in Sweden!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hold the phone. They have an ALDI in Germany?!!? My you lucky duck. I used to shop at one when I lived in the Midwest for a while.

    Ok that first drink? Looks DELICIOUS! I love mojitos, and that guy looks even more amazing!

    I hear you about the staring. We get it here too. Just last week a guy pulled into our parking lot as Derik and I were walking out to our car. He got out of his car and basically hung on the door and watched us ALL THE WAY from point A to B. We had to walk 3 feet from him and Derik stared right back just to see what the guy would do. UNAPOLOGETIC.

    Sigh.

    I'm sure you get lots of stares in Asia too. It's the western thing...they LOVE looking at us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aldi is a German based grocery store chain : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldi
      :) Danica

      Delete
  14. Whaaaa... I have not seen these women's parking spaces! If they make these like a foot wider I'd totally be on board. We have a Camry and I feel like I'm parking a tank.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What? Lady parking!? Italy needs to get on that. I won't ever get used to the staring. Most times it's just unnerving. Sometimes it's downright creepy.

    ReplyDelete
  16. In Sweden you have to pay for your bag also or bring your own- and I definitely see that as a HUGE pro! All about saving the environment! Though the first time it was def. embarrassing!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Aldi is all over the States now and I totally love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep! We have one back in my hometown! :)

      Delete
  18. They have Aldi is a few places in the UK now and it's wonderful. I don't mind packing my own grocery bag, but I hate when the people behind me in the queue make impatient noises because I am holding up the line with my slow packing! And that cocktail sounds divine! Right up my alley! xx

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ok, again... the peeing thing? Say what!? That is so so strange. But the female parking... amazing! Go Germans! But still, stop peeing all over everything....

    ReplyDelete
  20. I always love these posts - mainly because I'm German and love to read up on things that we think are completely normal, that other people think are completely quirky. I have to say, though, that Public Urination is not something I ever really noticed - you'd probably do it when you're hiking in the middle of nowhere, but I haven't really noticed it in cities. Maybe you just have bad luck with these things? ;) And I agree, it's definitely disgusting and I'm pretty sure many other German would agree. As far as the staring goes... I really have no explanation for this. For all I know I do this myself all the time...

    But to answer your sister's question: Yeah, we notice Americans, but usually only if they're in a big group of people. May have to do with the fact that I last lived in Germany's most popular town with American tourists (makes it more likely to come across some 'typical' Americans), but sometimes you can really tell them from quite a bit of a distance. Sometimes, it's the clothing, but more often than not it's just the sound volume. I know it sounds mean, but to Germans Americans just talk really, really loud. I'm sure someone from Spain would disagree, though! ;)

    Please keep doing these posts - I love them! :)

    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the biggest complaint hear in The Netherlands, we Americans talk too loud and you can hear us over everyone :) Danica

      Delete
  21. Gross about public peeing! Yikes. But those lady parking spots are pretty cool! And I sorta want one of those Hugo's. Look good!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. They have Aldi in Germany??? Love that! Also, totally wish we had women parking spots here :D

    ReplyDelete
  23. The non-grocery bags freaked me out too! I wasn't used to the quick process either, and as soon as I put my stuff down, there it was all waiting for me to carry it. I had to call a friend to bring bags outside the store because I couldn't carry all the stuff and they had made me buy it!

    Germans.

    ReplyDelete
  24. That drink looks amazing!!! I so think the US needs to have female parking.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have never actually noticed this public urination business, maybe because you're in a more Americanized area ;) I kid. But seriously people, it's too cold for that here. Hugos are AMAZING, couldn't agree more. And Aldi and I have a love-hate relationship because oyu can't count on that place for anything, but really it's mostly love because those prices!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great list! With all the heat this summer, I sucked down a lot of those this summer! :)

    I buy all my milk, eggs, bread (of course!) and fruit and veg off base. I find it so much cheaper. And I love Aldi - great wine selection as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So did I! I even went out and bought all the fixings to make my own at home. Those drinks are just too delicious to save for summer!

      Delete
  27. I really enjoy reading your pro con lists!
    I´m from a small village between Frankfurt and Cologne, since 8 years living in Austria. It´s interesting to see Germany through your eyes!
    And I´m with you: public peeing is disgusting! The sign on the pic actually means it´s forbidden around that area.
    Yes, Aldi is great! Aldi is originally from Germany, I prefer the Aldi Süd or Hofer what it´s called here in Austria.

    Deborah
    from the lake house in Austria

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deborah! Oh man, I wish those signs were around more often! :)

      Delete
  28. This post is very similar to some pros/cons I've found living in France. Yummy cocktails, check! Public peeing...everywhere, and some don't even bother to find a bush. I am still not used to the "no free grocery bag" policy here, I don't remember our reusable ones until we're in the middle of check out! It's a very chaotic ordeal trying to pack all of your grocery items as quickly as they are pushing them at you! It's little things like that you begin to miss, I never knew how nice it was to have somebody sack my groceries for me until now lol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The grocery bag thing has slowly become old hat to us here now, but in the beginning, I was totally thrown for a loop! Although, I won't mind coming back to having my groceries bagged for me when we move home. It's the little things. :)

      Delete
  29. I absolutely love hugos!!!! One of my favourite drinks when I'm in Germany (along with the beer). My latest German discovery was the yoghurt - stracciatella flavour. AMAZING!!

    http://somewhereyonder.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooo the yogurt is quite delicious here. But full fat most of the time. I can only treat myself every so often with it! :)

      Delete
  30. Great round-up!
    I'm all about the female only parking, it's a brilliant idea. And I love Aldi. I buy half of my groceries there and half at a 'normal' grocery story and since I started doing that, my grocery bill has gone down about €75 a month!
    When I lived in Dublin, they started charing for plastic bags at the grocery store and everyone had to start bringing their carrier bags. At first it was bizarre but now it's the norm and I like it.
    Hugos sound delightful. I'm going to attempt to order one here in France tonight and see what happens :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Public peeing is illegal in Germany and if the police or the Ordnungsamt sees you, you have to pay about 20 Euros. But the public toilets or the ones on the Autobahn are soooo disgusting that you would rather pee in the woods than on these toilets.
    Oh yeah...we Germany love staring...my hubby and i are often sitting outside a cafe and stare at people. We talk about how they look..what they wear and whatever. We love it and everyone does it. What we also do....on sundays many germans drive through new house estates to have a look how people live. How their houses look and their garden.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's craziness to hear! I've seen people pee right beside a group of police officers and they just turned their heads and ignored them. Maybe they were on break? HA!

      Glad to know that it is a German thing, to stare. But it's a little strange to hear that you drive around looking at how people live. Don't drive by my house...my flower boxes are atrocious! :)

      Delete
  32. I have been noticing the staring SO MUCH!! I thought it was just because I live in a village and no-one recognises me yet... or I look foreign... but it's so unnerving, huh? And the thing about the fast grocery shopping- the girls at the local ALDI here go at a BLISTERING rate! It is good in some ways though; the lines go down super quick but as you say, yeesh. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure that part of expat life will ever go away! Just when I think I'm starting to blend in, I get started at again. Ohhh well. :)

      Delete
  33. I am a German - living abroad. So even my perspective on my own country has changed somewhat and I always find it fascinating what foreigners notice living in Germany.
    1. Public peeing
    Honestly, German men are very discrete about it (I know that because I lived in Chile and there they are NOT!), so I don't really mind.
    2. Bubbly drinks
    WEIRD cultural plant that we have growing there - but if it leads to great cocktails, all the power to them ;-)
    3. The staring
    I have noticed one thing: The German stare is SO different from (for example) the Latino stare. The latter is curious, shy, interested and usually ends up with a nice conversation and an invitation to a BBQ. The German stare is hostile, and what can I say: YES, they DO see that you are not German, and they don't like it. Or - to put it in more German terms: They have to consider if they like you or not and if you give them enough time, they'll get over the staring and might even say "hi" at some point!
    4. The grocery bags
    Actually, that's one of the most annoying thing for me, too - in the US. Sooo much plastic, sooo much garbage, sooo unfriendly to the environment. Packing a couple of Jutebeutel before you go shopping is really not a big deal. Wait and see, it'll become second nature :-)

    http://wanderstrudel.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I have to say some German men are discrete about it, but not all. And I agree, the German stare is quite different from other stares, but it makes me sad that they might not automatically like that I'm not from here. Precisely why the staring is unnerving to me.

      And the grocery bag thing has totally become second nature to me. But, I wont mind a bit having my groceries bagged FOR me when we move back stateside. I'll just bring my reusable bags. :)

      Delete
  34. Ooooh okay so I thought I was being super paranoid when I was in Germany about the stares. And I thought it was because I was Asian and people there rarely see Asians. Well, at least at the non-tourist destinations that I went to. But if I think about it, my German ex-boyfriend and I got together because he was staring at me during the second day of class!

    And I'm upset about missing out on the Hugo cocktail. Though I drank a lot of apfelschorle and spatzie. Yum! :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. The starring part & Aldi made me smile :)
    I have to say i don't really notice the starring part, but most probably i'm just used to it.
    Girl, it you come to Berlin for a visit, let me know - there are a few coffee places we need to visit (ok or tea, if you're not a coffee drinker).

    xo,
    Luchessa.org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would love to visit Berlin and have coffee with you! When we make a trip up there, you'll be the first I'll tell! :)

      Delete
  36. My Dad was stationed in Germany in the 70s .... and often told the same story about walking down the street and a man passing him on a bicycle. The man got a few feet ahead of my Dad and his buddies, stopped, and just whipped out it, peeing right there. Thought nothing of it. Shook it off, and continued on down the road on his bike. Definitely glad thats not a common occurrence here in the states!

    ReplyDelete
  37. what?! that peeing thing is just gross! little kids pee here on the street, the mom just walks them to the side of the sidewalk, pulls down their pants and there they go! no hiding, no nothing! but thankfully it's not grown people!

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate your feedback, friends! I read every comment and try my hardest to respond to each one, but if your email address isn't attached to your blogger profile, you might find my response in the comment thread instead. As always, thanks for reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...