I’m All Shook Up – Culturally Speaking

Well, friends, readers, and friendly readers, it’s been more time than I wanted since my last post.  And my what a time it has been.

I don’t have any pictures for this post because one doesn’t tend to remember the camera when in survival mode.  I still don’t have internet at home.  In fact I am pilfering bandwidth from someone who allows their wireless network to grace my windowsill.  Shall I start from the beginning?  I believe it is a very good place to start.

As posted previously, moving day happened on September 30th.  Our lease didn’t actually start until October 1, but the landlord will give you the keys if he has them.  Our friends were available to move our bags that day so what’s a family to do but be thankful and take the help when it’s offered.  I blissfully missed the whole sweating, grunting, muscle-straining part of the move.  In fact, I was shopping.

Yes, a flohmarkt happened to be the same day and the women wanted to go.  I know I’m a mama and all but given the choice between labor (of any kind) and shopping (of any kind), I’m sure to pick the shopping.  This flohmarkt wasn’t as good as the others, but I did manage to snag some winter boots for the T-Rex as well as another pair of those rubber pants with a matching jacket.  When all deals had been had, I took the boys by tram to the new place.

Furnished.  What do you think of when you hear a place is furnished?  Our first furnished flat landed on the super tricked out end of the spectrum.  This new flat was kicked to the curb at the complete opposite end.  Yes, we had beds, a couch & chair, a table & chairs, a few shelves, and wardrobes.  That’s pretty much the extent of it.  No sheets.  No bowls, plates, spoons, knives, shower curtain, toilet paper, etc.

I had cooked up a tasty Mexi-Cali stew so I wouldn’t have to worry about moving-day cooking.  Only we didn’t have a pot to warm it up (a microwave is out of the question).  Nor did we have spoons to eat it with.  Welcome to student housing.

Oh yes, did I mention we live in student housing?  I feel like I never really got out of college.  Sure, I got that expensive piece of paper many moons ago.  But then Doc Sci got another more expensive paper after that.  And a bank breaker paper after that.  And now he works at a university earning back the bank.  But, we live in the dorms.  Yes, they make dorms for families.  How weird is that?

We pilfered a pot and two spoons from the communal kitchen in the next building and ate our stew in glad ware from the USA.  We’re really refined, can’t you tell?

Our friends (oooo yes, it is plural now!) have blessed us with some great stuff – silverware and dishes to start with.  We made an IKEA run and put up a shower curtain.  It’s a bit more livable now.

The real cultural shaker-uppers came after the move.  It seems that it’s not unusual for people to give you only half of the important information.  Like when they said there’s a washer and dryer.  Sure, it exists.  But, it costs 3 euro to do a complete load, washed and dried.  I think I’ll need a loan just to do laundry for T-Rex and Screech.

When we got here, Doc Sci was told that he’d have to start his first month on 80% of the agreed pay.  We weren’t told this up front and how in the world could we have known to ask that?  His plane ticket would be reimbursed but ours would not.  That might be fine if they were $600.  But they were much, much more.  He needed to get a tax card when he applied for residency but that didn’t happen (again, how could we have known?).  As a result, the government took out every tax under the sun.  We got taxed for being Protestant.  And Catholic.  And breathing.  The taxes taken out were more than the paycheck itself.  We were also supposed to get kindergeld – conveniently left out as well.

I hate to be honest here – because why in the world would you want that – but I have to admit it was the first time since I have been here that I really wanted to go home.  Not that we have a home to go “home” to.  But I wanted to go where I could read my lease, microwave dinner, and not have to choose between tithing and eating.  I’m on the mend, but I still think about Lean Cuisine.  And coupons.  And using coupons to get Lean Cuisine for free.

This isn’t supposed to be a rant post.  I don’t like to leave things so icky.  So, I will do a things I am thankful for post next.  I have a lot to write there too.

Do you have a culture shock moment to share?  Leave a comment – and make me laugh.. or cry!

4 thoughts on “I’m All Shook Up – Culturally Speaking

  1. Aww, I am sad things have been a bit shaky for you! I suppose its normal for things to happen this way when you dont know what your going into but still its an adventure and you wont die! I have many culture shock stories, but in Asia that is expected! Don’t come home, I was just in Orlando and its the same… plus then I cant visit! xoxo I will keep you in my prayers!

  2. Culture shock! Where do I start! Firt several month in US were that for me so I completely understand. The only difference is, I came here by myself without any expectations. And you went to Germany for a job! And one would think that they will take care of things like proper paperwork!!!! I am sorry and can only say it will get better!🙂 Just need to wait a bit longer, I guess.
    Please let me know if I can send you something! I am getting ready to send a package to Russia, you guys are even closer🙂
    Let me know what you need/miss/crave!
    Say hi to Doc Sci.
    Zhenya

    • Zhenya, I can only imagine what it was like for you to to show up in the US. Completely intimidating I am sure! I will email you with a wish list. Take your little boy to Russia and stop here in Germany on the way =) That would be great!

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