Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Random Observations

After six days in Germany, I have some random and totally unscientific observations about Leipzig:

Germans are helpful. I get lost regularly, at which point I grab the closest person and say "Vo ist der--" whatever. They always reply, sometimes in English, sometimes in German. In the latter case I go for a few blocks in whichever direction was pointed, and then grab someone else. Everyone tries to aid me.

Germans are cold-blooded. Even when the temperature was above 70 degrees Fahrenheit for several days running, most people went around in heavy jackets, often zipped to the chin, as if expecting a snowstorm any minute. In over-heated classrooms the jackets stay on. I even saw kids playing soccer in heavy coats.

Everyone walks or bikes. There are bicycle paths beside most streets, and they are heavily used. Even at rush hour the car traffic is light.

Recycling is taken seriously. Plastic bags are not free at the supermarket; they cost money, and so people save and reuse them. The six trash containers behind my building are labeled -- in several languages -- CLEAR GLASS, GREEN GLASS, BROWN GLASS, ALUMINUM AND PLASTIC, PAPER, and OTHER. There is almost no litter on the streets, even near the university or near a middle-school which I pass daily.

Jeans are for the young. The students, like students everywhere, wear jeans, but if a person middle-aged or older is wearing them, that person is American or Canadian. Female students, unlike in the States, do not wear midriff-baring tee-shirts.

Germans are not litigous. The trams careen on their tracks down the centers of streets. Windows on the fifth floor open wide enough to easily admit someone's falling out. In the States these would both be lawsuits waiting to happen, but here the onus is on the individual to not be run over or defenestrated.

Germans make a terrific apfelstrudel.


Unknown said...

I must admit, it's been a while since I've heard about any defenestrated Germans.

g d townshende said...

It's been many years since I was in Germany, but when I was there I absolutely loved it! (Including some of the Austrian liquor I bought. HIC!)

Here's another thing about Germany... on the Autobahn, if a car is coming up behind you and they flash their lights at you, it is your responsibility to get out of their way. In the U.S., people tend to get P.O.'d at those who flash their lights at you,... but then again it's an extremely rare occurrence here that you are held responsible for what goes on behind you.

Pinpon said...

Nancy, I Love your blog from Germany. I have added it to my favorites! I was one of the students at the Mass Communications class at the University of South Florida that you lectured about ur novel "Nothing Human", by the way. Thanks!

Neal Holtschulte said...

Just an FYI:
Aldi, an international grocery store that is present in both Germany and Rochester, charges extra for bags. The customer is also responsible for bagging their own food and putting away their own cart.

The cost savings from those minor inconveniences? Aldi is about half as expensive as Wegmans - I kid you not.

Variety is lacking, however, and the produce is not as sparkling fresh as at Wegmans. Aldi has a special place in my heart though.