All obscure, 6-year-old, Houston-specific jokes aside, living in Germany has made my life better. But, although I haven’t converted to Lutheranism or started enjoying sauerkraut or exclusively drinking Apfelschorle, it has changed me, at least a little bit! Since I’m now about halfway through my stay in Dresden, I’ve decide to reflect a little bit on the things I’ve learned here and share what little German mannerisms, amusements, or mindsets I’ve acquired!
1. Kaffee trinken is a thing.
It was a great accomplishment in my eyes that I made it through four years of undergrad without acquiring a coffee habit/addiction. But since I’ve lived in Germany, I have begun enjoying the occasional cup of coffee. Kaffee trinken is the traditional German mid-afternoon relaxation time (similar to tea time in England, I guess), when friends meet or families gather to share a pot of coffee (or tea) and some cake/cookies. My host family invited me over for Kaffee trinken shortly before Christmas and were surprised when I requested coffee instead of tea, which is what I drank exclusively while I lived with them. I had, indeed, begun ordering the occasional cup of coffee at a café (normally a latte macchiato or Milchkaffee [is ‘milk coffee’ a thing in English? Not sure]) and maybe had begun to enjoy it. But at the Brauns, I immediately regretted requesting coffee instead of tea, because I still prefer the latter by far. I’ll drink coffee to change things up or if I’m particularly tired, but I’m still a tea girl at heart.
2. Deposits/rebates are simultaneously life’s smallest bonus and its peskiest annoyance.
I’ve talked before about the German Pfand deposit system, where you are charged a little more initially for a bottled beverage to create an incentive to recycle the bottle later. There are also deposit systems on lockers at the library and on shopping carts at the grocery store. I’ve talked about that before too, I know, but the point here is that these things aren’t TOTALLY annoying anymore. I always feel very proud of myself when I remember to hold onto a 1 or 2 Euro coin for use at the library or the store! But it is incredibly pesky during those (not very uncommon) times when I’ve spent all my change on chocolate and pastries, as I am wont to do.
3. I’ve become a cold weather snob.
But only kind of. It’s a little ironic that this year, even Texas (not to mention the rest of the US! Goodness gracious!) has experienced WAY more inclement winter weather than we have here in Germany. But it has been way colder here on a regular basis this winter than we Texans are used to, and I have successfully lowered my “cold threshold” to about freezing or a little bit under. Which is my weird way of conceptualizing the fact that I don’t register it being “really cold” (provided that I am properly dressed) until it gets to about 28 or 29. [One thing that has still not changed: thinking about temperature in Fahrenheit.]
That being said, I did judge all you Texas people a little bit when you posted on Facebook complaining about freezing weather, especially because I knew full well that the previous week, and probably the next day, you were enjoying balmy temperatures in the 70s, while I was enjoying lows of 8 degrees at some point. And especially because during the time of the many UT “snow days,” we actually had legitimate snow here that I had to walk through to get to class. I do understand the whole “the south isn’t prepared for winter” thing, but still. Cool it on the Internet complaining, people.
4. I love public transit.
My [admittedly silly] goal is to be able to name the end points of all the tram lines in Dresden by the time I leave. So far, I’ve memorized the ones for the lines I use on a regular basis, which I guess is understandable and not all that impressive. [Line 8: Hellerau/Südvorstadt! Line 3: Coschütz/Wilder Mann! Line 11: Zschernitz/Bühlau! Line 9: Prohlis/Kaditz! I am a loser!]
Anyway, public transit is awesome because it means you don’t need a car, you can see more of the city in less time, and also it comes included with my student ID so I “don’t have to pay for it”! However, I may buy a bike once it gets warmer because you can take the girl out of Freiburg but you can’t take the Freiburg out of the girl. [I am getting nerdier and nerdier as this post goes on, aren’t I?]
5. I have learned how to use the word “doch.”
“Doch” is a word you hear a lot, but I had never really learned its meaning or how to use it appropriately because it is a little bit difficult to explain. But finally, I have learned it and now use it liberally, like any good German! It is basically an affirmative in response to a negative. Like, if someone expresses a negative thought, such as “There isn’t any more dessert, is there?” or “It won’t rain tomorrow,” or “Jennifer Lawrence has never won an Oscar,” you can say “Doch!” in response to indicate that the person you’re talking to is wrong. So basically it is my favorite word ever. We need something like it in English.