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Reverse culture shock

December 13, 2007 @ 6:35 pm
posted by kris
Filed under: misc

OK, so I’ve been in Texas 2 days now and already I have a huge list of things that I missed or things that I forgot about. The boys did well on the plane up until the very end when they had a huge meltdown. One boy refused to walk so a guy gave us a ride in the little truck and when we got to the passport control area, he refused to get out. So we basically had to drag two screaming fussy kids through passport and baggage claim. Could’ve been worse I suppose. They did really well though, for staying up nearly 24 hours with only a couple of naps here and there and not very long ones at that.

On the way home, we stopped by Michael’s favorite fast food joint, Jack in the Box. No one does fast food like the good ol’ USA! I got a chocolate shake and man, was it the best tasting shake I have ever had!!! He loves Jack tacos, in fact, his whole family loves it and I hate it. It’s not a taco, it’s a sad excuse for a pocket of meat.

If you’re a listener of the podcast, you know all about my food weirdness and all the stuff I complain about the US and Germany. OK, it should be my comparison between Seattle and Munich – because as some of my friends have pointed out, Munich and Bavaria is different from other cities in Germany. But ooohhhh, driving home, wow, what an experience. Wide 10 lane highways, lots of huge trucks and SUV’s, big box stores everywhere, TARGET!!!, many, many varieties of fast food. OK, it’s not like this is a good thing, it’s just that I am not used to it. I’m used to driving in a cramped car in a cramped lane with BMW’s going 200 mph and parking spaces that require you to be paper thin in order to get out of your car without scratching the one next to you.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. Mind you, I am in a little po-dunk town in Texas, 2 hours away from Houston. But the grocery store!!!! Oh, I LOVED it!!! They had squishy “texas sized” bread (almost as long as my arm) for only $1! Holy crap! Real Montery Jack cheese, real tortillas without preservatives in it, real texas picante sauce that leaves your mouth with a nice burning sensation long after you finished your meal (I LOOOOOOVE hot sauce!), cookie and cake mixes (they have these in Germany but they are NOT the same), campbells soups!!!, fat can cokes (cokes in Germany are either in .5L bottles or tall, skinny cans maybe to make you feel thinner?), eggs in a dozen (some places in Germany have them in 12, but most in 10), and ADVIL (how can I live without thee?).

Let me tell you some other things. Aluminum foil here is thicker and they have a little metal serrated edge for easy ripping. The Germans like to leave you with very thin “alufolie” and the box edge (granted, it is jagged) will have to do. It does indeed work, but it’s not as effortless. I am willing to put up with the German style, but I forgot how easy it was to rip with the metal thing!

And, I’m sorry Germany, but your garbage bags suck ass. I don’t know how many times we have ripped the bag (especially around the top where you pull it shut so it becomes a useless piece of crap) only to have to use another bigger one to put it in. I don’t think I have ever ripped a US garbage bag, even the flimsy ones. Or at least it’s not as memorable as the many times in Germany.

And also, I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about something running out in the store here. There ARE times when things are out but it is pretty rare. Compare that with our local Schlecker who almost NEVER has diapers in the size that we need. Maybe 1 in 5 times they will have it.

I also love that I can get almost everything in 1 store in the US. I also love that it is easy to get out of the store if you didn’t buy anything. A lot of German grocery stores make it so that you have to wait in line just to get out. If you have a stroller, you have to wait in one particular line, which always seems like it’s the longest.

OK, and now to important stuff like MEAT. I recently went to what I like to call “the meat hut”. That’s not it’s name, but it should be. In Texas, meat is in plentiful supply. All kinds of cuts of steak are to be found, some pork, some bird, some game meat. In Germany, there is mostly only pork. Of course you can find chicken, turkey, and others, but mostly you have to go to a butcher shop for steak and it is expensive. While that seems romantic and cool, it is not practical, at least for me and where I live. Try finding boneless skinless chicken thighs. Yeah, not easy. Try finding ground beef after 5pm on Saturday. Even harder. But in the meat hut, you can find whatever your heart desires for so little money. In the grocery stores, they hardly EVER run out of any meat. You want that with bones or without? Your choice! Texas and it’s meat hut is not normal for the rest of the US, but still, the typical grocery store has a huge dedicated area for meats, not just the 3 little tiny shelves.

And the eggs. I complained earlier that Germany’s eggs are so freaking orange that it weirded me out. And now I’m complaining that the US’s eggs are so freaking yellow that it’s weirding me out too. I guess I would prefer German eggs now. Why is there a difference and why are there more brown layers in Germany? Anyone know?

And lastly, sorry for the huge long post about nothing, the grocery baggers. I love you. You make my life so luxurious! I can just stand at the counter watching the checker pass my items over the light while I slowly take out my credit card to pay. Everything gets bagged up with bags that I didn’t have to bring with me. I even have the option of someone helping me to my car. I’m not in this huge panic to get everything bagged and paid for by the time the next person is being checked out.

OK, so I know that everything I love about the US is just *my* opinion and not the most environmentally sound or healthy. A lot of this I can give up and I like that I’m more “greener” in Europe, but just let me have these luxuries for a few weeks ok? :)

Comments (17)


Comment by Mia

Made on Thursday, December 13th, 2007 @ 8:53 pm

The difference in the eggs probably has to do with the feed. And most of the chickens producing eggs in the US are the same breed. German farmers, I am sure, use different breeds. I prefer to buy eggs at either my local co-op or the farmer’s market and I have had green eggs before.

More and more grocery chains in the US are starting to go to bring your own bags. It is better for the environment. I recycle my paper bags as much as I can.

And I am sure that we can arrange a garbage bag package or two to Germany for you.

Comment by Ulli

Made on Thursday, December 13th, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

oh, I simply love love love Texas. We have friends over there just two hours away from Houston! You don’t happen to be in Washington County, do you? We spent Christmas there two years ago. And just last May I been there too. Are yoz Texan?


Comment by scoutj

Made on Thursday, December 13th, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

This just totally cracked me up. Have a good trip!

Comment by Bobbi

Made on Friday, December 14th, 2007 @ 12:17 am

Welcome back!

Comment by Jenn

Made on Friday, December 14th, 2007 @ 12:35 am

Sounds like you’re having a blast!

The difference between the eggs as Mia said has to do with feed and breeds–and also what else the chickens eat. I’m going to guess that possibly more chickens in Germany are “free range” than stuck in chicken houses, thus they eat more than just feed. They eat bugs and grass and stuff, which actually makes their eggs much more nutritious (and better to bake with!). Regular eggs suck; the oranger the better!

Comment by Auntlyh H

Made on Friday, December 14th, 2007 @ 2:16 am

Welcome home! I hope you’re taking notes for the ex-pat portion of the podcast.

Comment by Laurie

Made on Friday, December 14th, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

I can completely relate to all of your “I miss this” things. Just moving from New York to Pennsylvania is STILL a culture shock after 10 years. Sounds like you need to get LOTS of care packages sent to Germany! :-)

I love your podcast and have wanted to send you guys some stitch markers. Could I do that while you’re in the US? (Don’t want to post my site addy here)

Comment by Oblivia

Made on Friday, December 14th, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

This post is awesome! Have fun here. :)

Comment by YTT

Made on Friday, December 14th, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

Oh, I remember this so, so well. With me it was bagels, Tropicana orange juice, American-style pizza, and American hamburgers. And you are so right about the meat. And the grocery bagging. (Though I think the German way is actually better, and more environment-friendly… but it’s so nice to have someone do it for you.)

But after 11 years in Munich I moved back to the States, and now there’s a list of German food I miss just as much. Sonnenblumenbrot from the bakery. Milchreis, and nearly any kind of yogurt, and that amazing thick chocolate milk with a hint of mint taste (I think it was from the dairy in Landshut). Thick fresh chewy pretzels, warm from the oven, and Obazda at the beer garden. Dunkles Weißbier. At least the local delis have begun carrying Ritter Sport bars.

Comment by alala

Made on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 @ 12:58 am

Oh, man, I was doing fine until you mentioned Target, and now I am a big puddle of homesick. Bring one back with you, okay? It doesn’t even have to be a SuperTarget!, a regular one will do.

Comment by shadkitty

Made on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 @ 6:30 am

*giggles hysterically* Yeah, we have a lot of conveniences here. It does feel pretty awesome sometimes. And I am happy to know what luxuries I have right now. Have fun. :)

Comment by Steph

Made on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

Don’t want to be the typical German here but is there anything you like about Munich? I always find it unfair to compare two completely different countries like that. Munich is great as well in its own way. And to be controversial: why are there 4,000 Americans in Munich if you don’t like it?

Comment by Bettina

Made on Sunday, December 16th, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

I would like to say something to Steph here:

Hopefully, you do read this blog regularly. If so, you know that in no other posts does the writer complain about living in Germany or Munich.

I also think that comparisons do come up when one returns to the country of one’s birth.

I am a German and have lived abroad for over 20 years now, in more than one country. So I do know, that in some things, I just prefer the German product and I do ask my family to send it to me. Some of that is convenience, some of that is just a matter of taste. So what!

Your comment is insensitive and rude. At no point did the writer say she didn’t like living in Munich. But that does not mean one changes every preference and is both uncritical or suddenly does not like anything from one’s home country anymore.

Comment by schrodinger

Made on Monday, December 17th, 2007 @ 6:12 am

I was just smiling at your comment on the baggers. I remember when Mr B and I had such a shock the first few times we went the grocery store here – we kept trying to bag our groceries, only to be looked at like we were lunatics.

Your comments have, in a way, made me really look forward to our trip to Munich and Austria, there are many things that I will always miss from the countries that I’ve lived in and Germany is no exception. Enjoy the rest of your trip and happy holidays!!

Comment by Steph

Made on Monday, December 17th, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

I didn’t want to be insensitive or rude, maybe my command of the English language isn’t good enough to really convey what I mean. If that was the case, I appologize. Nevertheless, I felt the need to “defend” city of birth because I love it very much. If the reverse culture shock was meant ironically, maybe I didn#t understand it either.

Comment by tini

Made on Tuesday, December 18th, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

I often have a kind of relating feeling when I go to different countries, I then realise what I like about living in my homecountry ( on the other hand the maple sirup in New England is just a lot better than in Germany).
I also can see that a big store is more convinient (is that written right?) but I do really love the small stores where you can get high quality stuff with a good sales person who knows where the stuff comes from and that it is fair priced (I’m esp. happy about the eco-stores here and miss them when I’m abroad and try to find equal stores… Vermont I love you!!)

Comment by caruba

Made on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

That was an interesting read! I wonder how things will be for me some 5 years ahead. Maybe we’ll have similar experiences, just the other way around :)

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What does bockstark mean (pronounced bok-shtark)? My crazy German friend, Matthias, made that word up to mean "really cool" and says that it is catching on in Garmisch. So I am helping him popularize the word! I thought if I ever opened a yarn store, I would call it "Bockstark Yarns". This blog is all about my projects, yarns and crazy ideas related to knitting and other crafts. Contact me at bockstark.knits(at)gmail(dot)com.

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