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The Same, Only Different

I spend a lot of time talking or thinking about all the things that have changed in my life since leaving New York and moving to Germany.  But in reality, there is a lot that remains the same, only different.

On the weekends, we still sleep too late and then wake up in a panic that the bakery will sell out of croissants before we get there.  Only here, the bakery is the only thing that is open on Sunday morning, and if you do not make it there before it closes at noon, you are out of luck.  Better hope you got some cornflakes at home or something (or take your chances with the overpriced brunch buffets at the neighborhood restaurants).

Public transportation is still my primary form of transit.  Although here, I spend inordinately more time walking or biking than I do on trains, just because I live so close to work and so far from a U-Bahn stop.

I still do not watch much television, even though here, we  actually have one.  That has less to do with my will power and more to do with my lack of interest in German television or the dubbing of American programs into German.

I am still separating my trash into recyclables and non-recyclables.  Only here, I have some anxiety about being publicly berated for doing it wrong.  There are certainly no lack of folks in Germany who take great pleasure in telling you when you are doing something incorrectly (and most of them seem to work for the Deutsche Post, but that deserves a post of its own).  In New York, my only recycling-related anxiety was having complete strangers rifling through my trash and spreading it out on the sidewalk for everyone to see.

Here, interacting with service people at grocery stores and the like is a strange mix of the “what, you want me to help you?” attitude of customer service in New York and the extremely friendly Seattle mentality that I grew up with.  While you might have to chase down a dour-faced employee for help in a German store, upon leaving the check-out counter, there is quite a sweet parting ritual.  A translation of a typical end-of-transaction conversation:

Me: Thank you!

Check out lady: You’re welcome!  Have a good rest of your day!

Me: Thank you, the same to you!  Good bye!

Check out lady: Good bye!

Maybe it is just me, but I do not recall ever once in my life saying good bye to a check out lady, even in Seattle.  Somehow, I like it.

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