06 January, 2005


As prepared as one may be for experiencing things that are different from their own culture, things always come around that just blow your mind (and/or your hairdryer).

Kulturschock Eins:  Germans.
People here speak German.

Kulturschock Zwei: Me.
I do not speak German.

Kulturschock Drei:  Combine Eins und Zwei.
Eins und Zwei combined suck when you are sitting in someone's reserved seat on a train.

Kulturschock Vier:  Water. 
I was at the Feuerstein (Firestone) Restaurant with a friend from ISU and our paired German students.  I just wanted water because my "buddy" was paying for me and I didn't want to cost too much money.  "Wasser, bitte"  I asked.  We all got water.  The waitress came back with 8 coasters for 4 bottles and 4 glasses.  I at first thought I ordered something wrong or accidentally agreed to something else, but it turned out they were bottles of water.  At that point, I knew we must be paying for them and I was disappointed.  Then my friend started pouring her water.  It fizzed.  Yes.  FIZZED.  Water here is carbonated.  WTF Mate?  If you want "regular" water, you must ask for Stillesswasser, but they look at you funny.  It's kind of like asking for unsweetened tea in the south.

Kulturschock Fünf:  Sheets. 
At home, I decided against packing my sheets because I wanted to save room and they were something I could clearly buy here.  Well, I was wrong.  They do not sell sheets in Germany.  They sell... sheetbags... that you insert padding into to... make.. a comforter-like thing.  Well, I brought my quilt so I don't need a... sheetbag...cushion..thing. I just need sheets.  But alas, none for me.

Kulturschock Sechs:  Keyboards.
Keyboards here are different.  The Z and the Y are switched and most punctuation is placed differently.  You have to work to find the key combination that creates the @ symbol, so most of us avoided email for the first few days. 

Kulturschock Acht:  Trash receptacles at Burger King.
Yes, I traveled 4,332 miles just to go to Burger King.  So we go through the trouble of ordering in German.  Which is hard for us since we don't speak it.  We get our food, and we are happy that, yes, it is what we thought we ordered.  So we ate.  And when we got up to through it away we saw that they had no trash receptacles!  Molly pointed at this odd thing with trays on it and I looked at it with astonished bewilderment.  Just then I saw a German holding in her laughter.  Stupid trash cans.

Kulturschock Nuen:  Bureaucracy!
Oh my freaking god.  If you haven't been to Germany, you don't know what a bureaucracy is!!!  Sheisser!  You know in some video games, (like Zelda) where you have to get one thing, to go get another, to go show someone and they tell you something that you need to know so that you go to someone else who signs a piece of paper saying you are allowed to continue to the next step?  And it's always something weird and you never know quite why it's necessary?  For instance, in zelda you have to run around and take potions places and wake up sleeping people with pocket chickens and talk to weird things to find things out and take Frogs of Power to other people before they expire.  Yea. It's like that when you try to establish residency in Germany.  Honest to god.  We get here and they give us a huge list of things we must do for no reason.  We had to go to so many places and they were never next to each other.  You know what?  I'll put this in it's own entry.

Kulturschock Zehn: Outlets!
So my friend plugged her hair dryer into her outlet with an American-European plug convertor, and it blew up.  Fun!  She blew fuse in her room so she has no power... poor girl.  Oh yea, and I can't plug in my camera lest it blow up.  So I need a convertor.  And turns out, they don't sell them here.  So if you want pictures, send me a convertor!!!

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