As many of you might already know, both Ash and I are expat Americans living in eastern Germany. We have both been here for quite some time and often find ourselves acting.... strangely :-) Maybe some of you have experienced this same feeling. You are living in a different culture that what you're used to, you often times get annoyed with said different culture, you try and fight it for as long as you can but in the end, said new culture starts to change you. You're saying things, eating things, loving things that you never thought you would. You're in the middle of scooping fresh leberwurst (liverwurst) out of a pig intestine onto your piece of buttered bread for abendbrot (evening bread/ dinner) and you just stop and think to yourself, "what the HECK am I doing???" Yep, we know the feeling. Here are our top 10 ways to know if you too are becoming German.
1. You love those dang house shoes
You have them, you love them, you take some with you when you're going somewhere with an uncertain house shoe status, they're the first thing you offer guests when they arrive, and you wouldn't ever even dream of wearing your outside shoes inside a home anymore. It's not a matter of just getting home and taking your shoes off, it's getting home and switching shoes. May your feet never be cold, my friend. Never.
2. You find yourself capitalizing all nouns when writing in English
This one is from my husband more than myself, honestly. Probably because his German is WAY better than mine. Way, way, way, way better. When writing in German, you capitalize all nouns. Every single one. Ryan said that he now often finds himself capitalizing nouns even when writing in English! Quite an accomplishment, I'm sure. I don't know if I'll ever get to the point, but I guess we'll see!
3. You regularly partake in Abendbrot
For dinner Germans eat something called "Abendbrot" (evening bread). Basically, you take your slice of bread and cover it in butter and whatever else you have on hand :-) Meats, cheeses, and veggies are always a favorite! When enjoying Abendbrot, one might also include a soup or a salad to go along with the bread. It took us over a year to officially switch from the American idea of dinner to the German Abendbrot. It's SO much easier! In Germany the biggest and "hot meal" of the day is at lunchtime, so that's what we do now since the times that we're most likely all at home together is in the afternoon. Eating this way is not only easier when it comes to preparation and clean up, it's healthier too!
4. Feel bad about checking out at the store with more than 5 things in your cart
I mean.... I still hold onto my American ways usually and fill my shopping cart with enough food for the whole week. But now I usually feel bad about it at least. The person in front of me in line makes me question all the things with their bag of potatoes, 2 beers and 3 yogurts while the person behind me is cursing me under their breath with their 2 bananas, fleischsalat (meat salad), 1 beer and bouquet of flowers. I just stare at my cart and don't look up. Ever.
5. You end your english sentences with, "or?"
If you speak German.... you know. Oder?
6. You love, respect and appreciate everything about a Kaffeepause
We don't normally have coffee and cake time when it's just us at home, but you better believe it when I say that I get SO excited when I find out visitors might be coming over in the afternoon or we have a meeting here because that means... Kaffeepause (coffee break)! There is a really freaking amazing bakery right under our apartment, and any excuse to go in and buy all the cake I could ever imagine being able to eat, is definitely exciting :-) Especially when it's Kuchentag (cake day) and you get 5 huge pieces of cake for 2,50€. That is a good day, my friends. A very good day. But in all seriousness, Kaffeepause is a legitimate event in German culture. And I think it's wonderful.
7. Must shake all the hands
Even when you walk into a party with 50 people, you shake every hand. And when it's time to leave, shake them all again. It's just second nature now! The only problem is when you go back to the States... and then everyone thinks you're super weird because you shake everyone's hand.
8. Everything is better when it's a schorle
Making something a schorle, basically means adding sparkling/mineral water to it. Apfelschorle (apple juice with sparkling water) is a little bit like..... the life blood of the German people. Basically, most every juice, syrup, and alcoholic beverage is better when it's carbonated. I definitely have jumped onto this bandwagon! "Oh yum, some fresh orange juice! This definitely needs some mineral water added to it." That's me, everyday. No shame!
9. You get offended at an improper Prost
You better look me in the eyes. Even my 2 year old knows how to prost his milk cup properly!
10. You find yourself shopping for inline skates, or better yet, those walking poles
I actually do love roller blading and as a kid was pretty obsessed with it, but I think I have held off on buying some here just on principal. Though, every time I'm walking through the park trying to avoid getting killed by all the crazy skaters, I can't help but long to be one of them. Those walking pole things on the other hand... I just can't. I seriously don't understand those one bit. Especially the 20 year old using them to power walk down the street.
There are many things about the German culture and way of life that so interesting and amazing :-) I'm proud to have added some German flare to my own personal culture! Though there are still some things (like those poles and eating raw ground beef on bread) that I'm still trying to wrap my head around, but I was taught in my Intercultural Studies classes at University, "Just because it's different, doesn't mean it's wrong". When you go into every new day and situation with that attitude, your own heart has the opportunity to become fuller and your eyes to grow wider :-) Ash and I can agree that living in a different culture than our own (we both grew up in Northern California) can be very difficult at times, but having the opportunity to expand our horizons, love for people, and culture makes it all worth it!
How have you found yourself becoming German?! Or if you live somewhere else, have you found yourself adopting some aspects of the culture that you currently live in? We would love to hear from you!
XO and Liebe Grüße, Elyse