The other day in my German class we talked about adjectives and how to say “I find ___ to be ___.” The teacher asked how we find Kaufbeuren and Germany, and then asked if there is anything we find negative.
It took awhile, but eventually the class started throwing out things. There were 3 main ones: it is too cold, it is expensive, and people need to work so hard.
Even the next day, it still hurt me to think about these things and the fact that I was not given the chance to offer an alternative point of view to these Eastern Europeans, Asians, and Mediterraneans.
To start, I should preface that spent my first 24 years in Minnesota. And the “glorious America” that many Europeans I have encountered hold is not exactly found there. Well, it isn’t found anywhere. Since so much of Minnesota was settled by Germans and Scandinavians, it many ways is basically Germany.
On cold: Well this is just ridiculousness that the Asians and Southern Europeans need to get over. We have had a very cold fall, it’s true. But it hasn’t gotten below freezing or snowed yet. And even in the depths of winter, it doesn’t get below 10°F. That is balmy during a Minnesota January! And on the flip side, it very rarely gets above 90°F in the summer. Weather: leagues better than Minnesota!
On cost of living: I don’t know what prices look like in other countries. But here, we do not struggle to stick to a budget that we couldn’t have even dreamed of in America. We have money worries, of course, but those mostly just relate to start up costs. Our apartment is less that half what we paid in America (inclusive of all utilities). Here we have a better location, and while we have roommates, there are single family apartments available in the same range. And the thing is, when we were looking for apartments in the US, we couldn’t even find anything in this range.
And food! Potatoes and flour for 15 cents a pound, chicken thighs for less than $1.25/pound, fruit and vegetables for 60 cents a pound, high quality, pastured eggs for only $1.68 per dozen. And these are regular prices, not finding deals and sales. Germany is definitely not expensive for us!
Of course, we are living in a small town. Munich is much more expensive. But this is true for large cities in any country.
On work: Obviously I have never worked in Germany, but I don’t see this. In America, you get a 15 minute break for every 4 hours you work. You do not get paid for any breaks beyond that. You work 40 hours/week, and often are required to work more. If you are salaried, you might not get paid for those extra hours. And if you work for a small, family-owned business, you might not even get your allotted break time because customers don’t take breaks.
I don’t know a lot about the German work week, except that it is on average only 35 hours and they get an average of 24 paid vacation days. I also am acutely aware of the fact that many businesses are closed for a couple hours over lunch time. William has a 1.5 hour lunch break, and one of our roommates has a 2 hour break.
Apparently, Germans are expected to do the work of two people in the time, but by whose standards? I’ll be able to comment on this better when I actually have a German job. But I have two thoughts on this: One is that I think time moves more slowly here. I am able to get much more done in the time than I could back home. Another is that I suppose the German attitude doesn’t let you screw around on the internet all day. Tragedy.
Most other things, I find fairly equal when comparing America and Germany. All the trouble we have been having with immigration is just as bad, if not worse, in America, if in different ways. I’m trying not to view Germany through rose-colored glasses, but this place just resonates with me. As my German improves and I learn more about culture and politics, this may change. But for now, basic life is much easier here.
Life update: William had a European virus fall in love with him last weekend and it has been slowly killing him since. It is not as bad as the virus he got this time last year, which triggered a bad flare of his Lyme disease. So we are watching closely for that to come back. Like last year I have not gotten sick yet. He missed 2 days of school this week, but thankfully is feeling better.