How have I lived abroad for six months?! Where did the time go? I literally titled this as "Four Months Later..." before I actually fucking counted.
As many of you probably know, I just spent a month back in the great white North. Nick and I decided to head back to Canada for the holidays to spend time with our friends and family. After spending a couple of weeks in Western society and returning to Europe, it’s like seeing Germany all over again with fresh eyes. I’ve previously written a post when I first moved to Germany about my observations in culture between Western VS European societies; but, since returning, I feel like there are a new things that I could add to that list…
… Or lack there of. I’ve said this since I’ve moved to Germany, but Customer Service is so unheard of here, it sucks. Whether it’s in a grocery store or at a restaurant, more often than not it’s like the people working there just don’t give a shit? Fair enough, you hate your job and whatever but, I’m paying for a service. So, be polite. On the rare occasion when we do receive good Customer Service, it’s almost a shock to the system (but, always VERY appreciated).
For a country that’s so uppity on recycling, not using plastic bags and walking/biking instead of driving a vehicle, there is so much litter in the streets and on the sidewalks. Nick and I live in a part of East Berlin that feels like it hasn’t been exposed to much gentrification, so maybe that is part of it. But, it seems like there is a surplus of broken beer bottles, takeout containers and other varieties of garbage littering the streets. There also feels like there’s not an adequate amount of garbage bins on the streets for such a big city.
3) Public Transit
Listen, I love the access to public transit here in Berlin. But, what I don’t love is the convoluted ticketing system and rules that go along with each ticket. It’s been a while since I’ve taken transit in a big city in Canada, but I feel that it’s more or less like you pay your way, you go on your chosen mode of transportation and then get off whenever. In Germany, there’s half a dozen different types of tickets and prices for each ticket, varying number of stops you can ride on your chosen ticket, which direction or zone you’re allowed in etc… Making sense of the rules and regulations of the German public transit system is almost more difficult than understanding long division.
4) TV Tax
There is an actual TV tax on the amount of televisions you own/use in your living space. I THINK the tax is aimed towards access to TV programs and what not (I’m probably very wrong on that), but even if you only use your TV for gaming or for Netflix, you still are expected to pay this tax every couple of months. It’s a total money-grab.
This is one that Nick is particularly passionate about; the lack of infrastructure in the city, most prominently in the area of Berlin where we live. Infrastructure covers a variety of topics in regards to the operation of society as a whole. But, the portion of it that is most annoying for us is the uneven sidewalks. Nick has nearly fallen and broken his neck a record-breaking amount of times since we’ve moved here. In his clumsy-defence, most of the sidewalks do look like a small tornado has ripped through them.
Maybe in a couple of months I’ll expand on this even further. Or after I’ve had some Canadian visitors, they can share their thoughts on the differences between the Canadian and European cultures!