I could not have imagined how much I would enjoy it here, and I am constantly being blown away by the incredible things this country has to offer. I have been here for less than five days, but it feels like at least a week. There are lots of differences between Germany and the US, as one might imagine, and I will attempt to tell you a bit about a few things, such as toilets, recycling, beer, water, and food.
See one toilet, seen them all, right? Wrong! In Deutschland, toilets are as diverse as the people who use them. In just the past few days, I have encountered levers, buttons, panels, and pulleys of all kinds. The locking mechanism for the doors of the stalls can vary pretty widely as well. I also made use of my first powdered soap dispenser – a little box with a crank wheel that dispenses Parmesan cheese-like soap. The water in the bathroom sinks is always very cold (and only cold – hot water is expensive, so no hot water option unless you’re at home), which is awesome because that is the only place to fill water bottles.
Speaking of water bottles, there is much to say about water here. Germans drink sparkling water, but often one can find sparkling, lightly sparkling, and still, or uncarbonated, water. There are no water fountains, so one must buy disposable water bottles wherever they go, or carry a reusable bottle to be filled in the bathroom. I have yet to purchase a reusable bottle and I left my Starbucks cup at home, so those of you who know me well can imagine how pain stricken I am at how many disposable bottles I’ve had to use.
Now on to the subject of recycling. In Germany, efficiency in all aspects of life is sehr wichtig (very important). There are separate bins for plastics, paper, food waste, and other non-recyclable waste. There are usually no bins for glass bottles, and I soon found out that is because one can take used glass bottles to a local grocery store and feed them into a machine, which dispenses credit for use at any store in Germany. Theoretically, one can drink for free every night if they stroll around in the morning collecting bottles, as beer is incredibly cheap.
Water conservation is also crucial in Germany (for those who know me well, yes, I am incredibly happy). A typical German shower takes less than five minutes, and is incredibly conservative. One enters the shower and turns it on, and hot water is typically readily available. After one is nice and wet, which takes maybe 10-15 seconds, the water is turned off and the soap is applied to whatever is being washed. Then, the water is turned back on to rinse, and off again to soap back up. This is repeated until cleanliness is achieved.
Drinking on the streets here is totally legal, but the recycling program helps to prevent bottles from building up on the streets. I haven’t yet encountered obnoxious drunk people on the streets, so I will try to remember to report back later about what I really think about the public drinking law (so far, I love it).
Okay, I need to talk about the food. The. FOOD. I’ve posted a few photos, and I wish I could convey the deliciousness of the fuds to you. Döner is amazing, Wurst is amazing, and the Brot is sooooo gooood. It makes it really hard to stick to the diet I had going back home, and I have no idea how people with gluten allergies survive here. My host family has provided me two absolutely amazing meals so far, and I am really looking forward to the next six weeks of food I have ahead of me. Last night, we had spaghetti and tortellini in a mouthwatering sauce with a tasty salad, and for a traditional Schwabisch lunch today, we ate a soup with more German tortellini that was incredibly delicious. I am picky with what soup I like, but this soup was so flavorful that I ate until I was completely stuffed.
Ich will mehr später schreiben. Jetzt will ich abendessen 😀 tschüss!