Motherlord of an American expat family in Berlin. I hail from rainy (but lovely!) Seattle & am the content editor for easyexpat.com, Insiders Abroad and Germany Travel guide at about.com. Drink, travel, write.
Disclaimer: This post – as indicated in the title – is about toilets. Though there are no stories detailing dirty business, it is implied. If you prefer more heart-warming topics, why not consider my posts about my favorite Berliner and having a baby in Germany.
The mysterious German Toilet Photo: Erin Porter
Why are toilets feminine? The toilet is “die Toilette“auf Deutsch. One of the many pronouns that make no sense, I have time to contemplate this oddity of German as I use one every day and have sampled facilities across Germany. I would consider myself an expert.
And I think German toilets may be superior. Hear me out…
After writing about German tea in my last post, my mind has been on food in Germany and how different it can be than food in the USA. Like the eggs I have stored in my pantry. That’s right, my unrefrigerated pantry.
Behold! German eggs Photo: Erin Porter
I’ve talked about grocery shopping in Germany and how it can be a harrowing experience. It almost sent me packing my first few months in Berlin. Customer service is non-existent, check-out is an athletic event and goods are displayed in the least attractive manner. On my first grocery trip, I must have spent 30 minutes scouring the store looking for eggs before finding cartons piled high in a nondescript cardboard box on the floor. Milk was in boxes – also unrefrigerated – nearby (I’ll have to get into that another time). I was flummoxed. What was going on?!
Let me tell you all about the eggs in Germany my friends, and why they are aren’t refrigerated.
I just tried to close my kitchen cabinet – thunk. Tried again – harder. Thunk! Sighing, I opened it to have an armload of tea rain down upon me. It’s just that time of year.
My husband works as an Erzieher and one of the funny little perks of the job are the Christmas presents from the kids. Sometimes he gets chocolates which is terrible for his diabetes but great for his attitude. Sometimes its candles, or homemade cookies or occasionally an art project. Unfortunately, one of the most common gifts is tea (or Tee in German).
As we live in Germany, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Germans are obsessed with tea. If you are sick, or pregnant or feeling gloomy – there is a tea for that!
That said, my husband and I don’t much care for tea. We’re from Seattle, the land of coffee, and feel completely overwhelmed with the whole tea brewing process, varieties and homegrown remedies. And yet, I have got a cabinet full of tea and a country full of Germans to tell me what to do with them. Let me try to unlock the mysterious world of German tea.
It is that time of year where our latest visiting family member is on their way home (bye Opa!) and we are reminded how very hard it is to have a baby abroad. We have no one to call about a sickness in the middle of the night, no family at her birthday party, and nary a date night in sight.
While there are many positives of raising a child in Germany (hello practically free child care), nothing replaces family. Though we took two periods of parental leave to stay with family in the States – this is a far-cry from being based in the same city, same state, same continent. Through no-fault of their own, our parents are trying to make Long-Distance Grandparenting work.
However – as an American – I can theorize about some of the differences. The little things that catch me up as a parent, as well as the big things that show how far apart the parenting cultures are. I know that there are at least five things I can do in Germany with a kid that I couldn’t do in the USA.
When writing my post on “How to Dress for Winter in Germany”, I felt like I could complete another full post on “How to Dress your Kid for Winter in Germany”. Germans take winter clothing seriously and double down when it comes to the kids.
I tried to cover the basics of kid wear in Germany with Dressing your Kid for German KiTa, but – as I said – winter is a whole new deal. So here is an updated Guide of How to Dress Your Kid for German KiTa – complete with special information for the winter.
How I did it Wrong
When my baby started Krippe, I thought I was ready. We had waded through the paperwork, got the almighty Kita–Gutschein (subsidy) and been accepted to a great KiTa. We had steeled ourselves for our baby spending time away from us for the first time. We thought we had this.
However, suggestions from the Erzieherin started coming in slow and haven’t stopped. Continue reading →
It’s hard to tell what the weather will be like day-to-day in Berlin. You can wake up to bright sunshine, leave your Wohnung (apartment) amidst deep fog and return home to an epic downpour. Other places like Freiburg may boast more sunshine than anywhere else in the country, but there is no escape from the cold. Bone-chilling, breath-stealing, icicles-in-your-nostril cold eventually finds its way to every corner of Germany. Sometimes this is only for a day or two, and sometimes this chill feels like it will never end.
And unlike places like the USA where you run from your well-heated home to your preheated car to your next heated destination, life in Europe refuses to let you hide out through the winter. There will be very cold minutes waiting for the train, the airy flat you loved in summer will turn into an ice box and the only times you’re warm are when you are sweating through your under layers on the random overheated UBahn car.
After all my complaining about finding an apartment in Berlin, it seems like everyone is moving into their home. We moved into our new place – complete with a room for our girl – almost exactly a year ago. While we were away in the States we missed two of our friend’s moves (sorry guys!). We also returned to new neighbors across the hall. And on our first weekend back we even went to a friend’s housewarming party – full of century old wood, food, friends and kids.
To commemorate these life events, you need the proper gift. In the USA, Emily Post dictates that a bottle of wine, a plant, or a loaf of bread or other food item are appropriate. But in Germany? I was a little lost.