My name is Katrin and I blog over at Land of Candy Canes about my life as a German married to an American. I also like to talk a lot about animals (I love all animals and I have 4 pets: 2 cats and 2 bunnies), food (I am a vegan and love to discover new recipes), books, traveling and many more things. I am honored that Sara lets me guest post on her fantastic blog. She's a wonderful friend and it means a lot to me.
Today I want to talk to you about some of the experiences I have had as a German in America. I did not really know what to expect when I first moved there. Of course, you know America from movies and books but living there as an expat is a completely different experience. America became my second home...but of course there are some things that are just weird for me.
The restaurant experience.
First of all, in Germany you don't wait to be seated. You just walk into the restaurant, decide where you want to sit, and then a waiter comes over to take your order. That is what I was used to. I don't really like waiting for food. I can get a bit crabby when I am hungry. When I first went to an American restaurant the waitress told us that we would have to wait 45 minutes for a table. For me, that was a reason to leave and go to another place. But I found out: it's normal. People do that all the time. So I knew that's a thing I have to get used to. I do love that you get free refills in America. I mean, how awesome is this?! In Germany I am used to paying more for my drinks than I pay for my food. I am always thirsty so this comes in handy. It would be perfect if the waitress would not come over every 5 minutes to fill up my glass which isn't even half empty, but I don't want to be pedantic. In Germany the waiter usually only comes over when I ask him to. My biggest problem in a lot of American restaurants is that they just don't have anything on the menu for me. I know that there are lots of fantastic vegan places out there but just not around my city. So I always end up annoying the poor waitress by asking her thousands of questions about the food (and ordering my drinks without ice, it's just weird) and end up ordering some sides.
What I do not like about eating in American restaurants is that I often feel rushed. In Germany I always spend hours at a restaurant and people just leave you alone. But it happened a couple of times to me that the waiter brought the check while I was still eating. I think that is just not necessary. I know that a lot of places are crowded and that they need the tables for other customers but I really prefer to eat in peace and have a coffee afterwards. Without being disturbed. But hey, as I said, I don't want to be pedantic....I mean, I had the best veggie burger of my life in an American restaurant. That makes up for a lot of inconveniences.
I love the fact that people are so friendly in America. One example: when I go to the post office in Germany, I am prepared to see a lot of people impatiently waiting with a crappy mood because the line is too long, the employees are to slow, the sky is too blue, or the floor too ugly. In America people actually start talking to you while you wait in line. In a friendly way! Makes me smile every time I experience it. I have to say that I only had one unfriendly experience while grocery shopping: the sales person got mad at me because I asked her too many questions about a curry paste I was looking for. But I am sure she just had a bad day. So, hey, way to go America!
One thing I will never get used to: air conditioning. I might be a helpless case because I am always cold but why does it always have to be freezing cold in stores, restaurants, offices, houses and (the worst) movie theaters! It's always like a slap in the face when it's nice and sunny outside and you wear your summer clothes and then you enter a building and you immediately start freezing. I just don't get it. I always have to bring a cardigan and sometimes even a scarf and socks to the movie theater because I just can't stand sitting there for two hours in an ice cold breeze. I guess I am just not used to it. Most people do not seem to have a problem with it. But I guess I will just go on carrying my winter clothes with me. Even in mid-summer.
There are in fact lots of other things which are weird for a German living in America...things like: the love for the American flag (in Germany you rarely see the flag, only when the World Cup is going on), chips for lunch (chips are a snack which you eat while watching a Fussball match), guns everywhere, the lack of good bread, cars without a stick (still feel useless when I drive one because I basically only need one hand and one foot), the fact that there are 5 Burger Kings, 7 Mc Donald's, 6 Wendy's and 36 other fast food restaurants even in the smallest town, people use way too many plastic bags, sales tax is not included in the prices, the fact that you don't have at least 5 different trash bins to recycle (plastic, bio, paper, glass, general), the fact that the traffic lights are on the other side of the intersection, the mail usually takes a lot longer than in Germany, nobody uses house slippers....and so on.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about my German-American life. Sara, thank you again for giving me the opportunity to write on your blog. You are a wonderful friend!