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. . .Or Is This The Same Planet? (AND HIATUS ANNOUNCEMENT)



I'm the sort of person that believes solutions are always possible. 
I'm also the sort of person who is a realist. Meaning, I know that while it takes two to fight, it only takes one to persecute. Sometimes a multitude can be silent accomplices. And sometimes they never know. But either way, the one persecuted doesn't always have the choice to activate a solution. 

Sometimes, while a solution is always possible, it's far out of reach for the person needing it. 

Germany has taught me this more than ever. 

I want everyone to get along. 

But some of our personal philosophies and ideas and values just aren't compatible. 
Sometimes there is just no meeting in the middle, no matter how much one wants it. 

And yet it's inevitable to meet somewhere. 

And thus hearts are broken, culture shock ensues and battles rage. 

And yet ... this doesn't mean solutions aren't possible. 
Because it's never the solution that's out of reach. It's a person and their philosophy that holds that solution out of reach. It's not that one can't meet in the middle, but that someone refuses. 

And, so, I hold to my belief that humanity has hope. That it's not pointless to try. And that the best path toward success is learning and understanding. 

We can solve our problems. 
But first, we need to understand every aspect of said problems. And we need to be willing. 

And on that deep note, I'd like to get a little less philosophical and share some ways Germany contrasts from America on a lighter level. 

Trails and steps and woods:
Somebody correct me if America has these too, but we so need this part of German city life. 

In Stuttgart for sure and the few other towns I saw, there are literally steps everywhere. And most towns have small forests just packed full of biking and walking trails. 

And some trails, like the ones we visited in the Black Forest, are just super unique and full of fun, educational markers. 
But the steps and paths aren't just in the woods. They line almost every main road. There are many paths with signs like this that lead just about everywhere, making an easy option for those who'd rather walk or bike than drive to school or work or town. 

I love how active-friendly Germany is. 

America is full of way too many people who sit for everything, hardly ever moving, occasionally trying to motivate themselves to walk 10,000 steps. In Germany, the days where I don't top 20,000 steps are rare. 

I plan to go home and build bike paths everywhere in America. Or Montana at least ;D 

Dairy products and how they are packaged:
First, Germany isn't really a nation that encourages large families. So everything is small. Milk comes in quart-sized containers, yogurt comes in small buckets, and cream and such come in little upstanding rectangular containers with a peel-away lid (I totally don't get that as it can spill so much easier than ours). 

So yes the packaging is different and smaller. But the variety is larger. 

In the picture below is something my first Au Pair family told me to try. It's called Speisequark. I looked for a translation and got food curd, but I have no idea it that's correct. I was told we don't have it in the States, which I imagine to be true as I've never seen it. It is kinda like greek yogurt but with a cheesier taste. Mixing a little bit of bubbly water or milk into it, then cereal, it is great for breakfast. Or they use it a lot in baking pastries. 
Trees everywhere:
And I mean everywhere. Beside buildings, in nearly every yard (though the yard probably barely has enough room for the roots), in parking lots, in between parking places, along roads, in town, everywhere. They are not sparse here. 

And they are all so pretty. But then is there such thing as an ugly tree? 
But because there are so many trees, there are also a lot of leaves. 
Nearly every day I'd see people sweeping their sidewalks and gathering up piles of leaves. These little wire boxes were stationed every so few hours and people would fill them with leaves. Huge orange trucks would come and long hoses that reminded me of something out of a Dr. Seuess book would suck the leaves out of the wire cages into the truck. 

Also, I saw one yard have the most strange contraption. It looked like those little robot vacuums people have running across their floors, except it was on the person's grass making straight lines back and forth. I'm not sure if it was trimming the grass or picking up bits of things.

Tuchen (tissues): 
I have not seen a single household (or even person?) without a package of tissues, one brand or another. I never thought I'd be one of those sort of people that carry tissues. 

But traveling does change you. 

And the crazy thing is I also use them all the time for the rest of the world. 

A child needs to go potty? Great for wiping. 
Someone has huge, ugly tears running down their cheek? A tissue always makes them feel loved. 
A running nose. Spilled water, or anything for that matter. Dirty fingers. 

This has become a daily staple. 

And see the cute little pick bag? That was made by the little girl from my first Au Pair family and she gave it to me when I first arrived. Definitely will hold onto it for a long time for many reasons. 

Vending machines:
They aren't necessarily neat if you're no longer enthralled by euros. From the outside that, is. Except they are in so many places and are full of things with a little more substance than m&m's. Such as the cheesecake pictured below. And some vending machines have little bowls of warm soup and hot drinks. 

And they aren't that expensive. Though probably not the wisest place to buy a meal, economically. 

Food
It's just yummy. This is a free meal from an event I helped out with church in November. 

The bread is covered in nuts. Apfelsaft (sparkling apple juice) seems to be a staple. The container is yogurt. And the noodles are stuffed with vegetables (other options have meat or cheese) and are called Maultaschen (mouth pockets, I think). 

Free stuff
Of course, there's no such thing as free stuff when someone had to make it somewhere and someone had to buy it. 

But that being said, people hand out a lot of free stuff in Germany. 

And a train, these ladies (who worked on the train) went back and forth handing out small bags of gummy bears to the children, and even some of the adults. And they didn't just give away one bag, but several. And they just went back and forth, giving the children more and more handfuls of bags so that pockets were bursting full. 

I went to a shopping center with people awhile back and there was an anniversary party going on for the mall. Free cake for everyone and every store was handing out vouchers, candies, balloons, mugs, and so much more. 

At a church event, we were given doughnuts and balloons. 

This bag of chips was from another church thing I attended with my Au Pair family. 

But then, they also charged for the funniest of things. Like people made jams and sold those at church. Or there was a table full of candies at a church event I went to, all for sale. Or a polarized camera, where people had to put money in a box to use (all based on trust). Or the main church I went to always had drinks for sale. And a church service I went to made waffles and people paid for those (on a recommended donation, I think). 

Overall, Germany isn't free. 
But the little things that are handed out have been such fun, unique things (to me as an outsider, at least) and seem to bring a lot of joy to a lot of people. 

OTHER NOTEWORTHY THINGS:
  • Did you all know Aldi's originated in Germany? I feel like I should have known it, or maybe once knew it? 
  • Roundabouts are everywhere. But you don't turn your blinkers on before entering, but after entering right before exiting where you need to go. 
  • Stoplights aren't across the street, but on the same corner as the car. 
  • Everyone has a dishwasher and two kids. 
  • Windows have blinds, not curtains. And most windows open up two ways depending on how you turn the handle ... either out, or the top part comes out so just air can come into the house but nothing else. Even many glass doors are like this. 
  • I was talking to somebody in Germany about the States, and he said California was very different. "How?" I asked. He replied, "The women wear leggings in public when they aren't going to the gym." I laughed and said that they do that everywhere in America. And then I stopped laughing as his statement registered. "Women don't wear leggings here in public!?" And even though I'd been here two months, that's when I realized it. It's true though. People here dress classier. And if a woman does wear leggings, either it's paired with a long, fashionable blouse. Or they are going to the gym ;)
  • Most kitchen sinks here are smaller than the bathroom sinks. And there's only one kitchen sink. And they don't rinse their dishes here. And to me that's gross. But to them that's a waste of water. They are very water conscious here. 
  • People drink unflavored bubbly water a lot. And if you go out and ask for water and don't specify, you're getting Spüdelwasser.


The more I stay here, the more I notice the differences and notice the mistakes I've made without realizing it. Some people are good about showing me how they do things, while some are not. But overall, I've been learning about so many little things one would never imagine one could relearn about. 

I thought I was capable when it came to running a household. 

But I'm having to relearn the ropes here, and in a way it's funny ;D 

I don't celebrate the holodays. To celebrate that fact, I was going to do this epic lost explaining why. Sadly, due to my scattered brain, you all won't be seeing that post until next Christmas. 

Even so, you all are usually pretty absent over the holidays. And I am living with a family that keeps Christmas. For those reasons this is my last post until Januray 8 (excluding the next installment of Susan's story.)

Bis nächstes Jahr, und viel spaß!

Comments

  1. I love reading about the differences! The wire box for leaves is so great. :) That's interesting about the leggings in public! It seems like Europe has a lot of roundabouts, because the same is true in Ireland. Have a good break, Keturah! This will give me a chance to catch up on all of your posts that I've missed. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the wire boxes, too! Just driving today through small towns I went through three of them. Haha, that's exactly what I was going for ;)

      Delete
  2. I love this post, Keturah! It’s so interesting to see all the differences between the USA and Germany - I hope one day to go. <3

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you find it interesting ... And I hope you get to come someday, too.

      Delete
  3. So many interesting things you're learning, Keturah! I appreciate you sharing them with us. Getting glimpses into other people's lives and other ways of life is a great way to grow. Maybe if we all did it enough, we could all find that common ground and those solutions you talked about in the beginning of your post. Blessings to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right that it's a great way to grow. I think it EVERYONE did it as you say, common ground might be more plausible. But from what I've seen I have less hope of people tolerating one another enough in the true sense of the word. Thanks, and likewise :)

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  4. Aldi's started in Germany? *blinks* How did I not know that?

    Enjoy your hiatus! Can't wait for that epic post next Christmas. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got laughed at for blinking. And I pretty much asked the same thing. Seems obvious once you know though, right?

      Ahh... But if you follow my YouTube I will be having a prelude in video form coming soon ;)

      Delete
  5. Love learning about other countries! This has been fun - kinda feel like we're off adventuring with you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad! It's kinda felt like you all have been with me too;)

      Delete
  6. Maybe over your break you can make the holidays post? Pleaaase *puppy eyes*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh but I'm using the break to do other things , such as maybe going to France 🤣

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  7. I love how different and interesting it sounds.

    ReplyDelete

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