Let me first briefly tell you about my situation before proceeding to what I have noticed about Germany. I live in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (on the Garmisch side) in South Bavaria, less than an hour drive from Austria. I work at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, and even though I live and work in Europe, I am employed and housed by America. (Meaning I make crap wages and get crap benefits compared to local Germans I work with, yay!). Now, like I said, I work in Germany but I work for America, I am surrounded by American's every day and it is incredibly easy to go from the comfort of living in America to the comfort of living at Edelweiss because it is the exact same American culture! I must venture out and beyond the walls of confinement to discover more about this magical land. Garmisch is quite touristy, mostly everyone speaks English, but if not, then it is easy to navigate with head nods and pointing and basic German. Here is a short list of discoveries so far:
EVERYTHING is recyclable:
A great quote I read in a book along the way somewhere went something like this - "We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, instead, we borrow it from our children." Author unknown. Imagine if the world thought this way. The good we could do. The Earth sustained and nourishing it's being's instead of using and consuming endlessly until it is all gone. What then? OK, fear mongering done. But, German's live this. They truly care about this world and the environment. They take recycling seriously and there are bins for everything. They will even go as far as to pay you for it! Maybe not pay you, but you pay a deposit on certain consumable items and get that deposit back when you return the item, in order to encourage recycling. Granted, it's only 0.25 euro, it adds up.
Whatever you do, do NOT jay walk:
You might be able to get away with it with the old "no cop, no stop" rule, but I have heard rumors of cops posing undercover to catch jaywalkers and fine them for the act, upwards of 60 euro. It could be a myth, but I do not want to find out. Also, locals will go as far as to call you a "child killer" if they see you jaywalk, think about it. Don't say I didn't warn you. Berlin might be the exception in this law.
German dogs are better than great:
I'm a dog lover to the core, and I miss Kato and my other family dogs back home. Wish I could pet them everyday, so when I see these dogs running alongside their owners with no leash and they are incredibly trained they do not run off or disobey their owners, it makes me wonder. Germans are exceptional trainers, and it makes sense, a culture ingrained in order and structure will of course have great dog trainers everywhere. I am just hoping one will eventually run up to me so I can get a pet or 2 in, but don't go out of your way to pet the dogs- it's definitely not a social norm.
Berlin could be the exception to anything Germany:
We ventured over to Berlin for New Year's. I have been to a lot of cities in my day, but nothing is like Berlin that I have seen. It is myriad of art. Graffiti is everywhere. There is limited structure and order. Locals are nice, if there are any locals, that is. People offer you drugs on the streets at night, wait, ignore that part. Just kidding, but if that is your thing, Berlin is your place to be. You can get anything you want to eat from any culture around the world in Berlin. You can also get around the city in 30 minutes if need be with a plethora of transportation options, no need to drive because you will spend more time searching for a parking spot and wasting gas than you will pay for a group subway pass. Oh, and yeah, if history is your thing, head to Bernauer Strasse and learn about the oppression and division the Berlin Wall caused from 1961-1989. Berlin had me in love and I want to go back when I have more time to spend and enjoy the city.
|Looking toward The Wank ("Vonk") after a brief snow|
Tidbits of the minds abyss miscellaneousness:
If you think because you have been to one German city, you have seen it all, you are mistaken. That is comparable to claiming "I have been to New York, so I know what LA is like." Night and day. It is funny we live in such a diverse world where you can go to a country and there be multiple cultures within that country, but yet the same major culture norms overlap every part of that country. In order to truly learn and understand a culture, one would have to dedicate a lifetime of understanding to that country/civilization/entity/land/area/etc, and even then, they might not gather everything there is to know.
I find it fascinating how over thousands of years, Europe developed slowly. People spread slowly due to the natural geography of the landscape, it was difficult for European ancestors to traverse the mountainous and river lands. The wanderers pushed forward when they were born and continued to spread west, eventually settling as far northwest as Ireland and as north as Norway and Sweden. To the point where we have an entire continent that is "simply" a plethora of different cultures, languages, foods, and beliefs. If this diverse continent could eventually figure out how to live together after years of war and turmoil, I believe the rest of the world could figure out how to live in harmony as well. Relax, take a deep breath, and say hi to your neighbor.
If you truly want to be a world citizen, travel whenever possible. Travel far and wide. But do not just travel, travel with a curious mind with the desire to learn and understand what you are observing. Share and learn. Learn more about the landscape, the history, the people. Ask stupid questions and make mistakes. Soak up the information like a sponge and write about it later. Do the local shit and get away from the comfort of knowing. You are a tiny little conscious live creature in a vast universe that is your playground filled with a vast wealth of knowledge waiting to be learned by you. You do not know it all, nor will you ever, and as soon as you realize this and truly focus on what you want to know and learn, you will be able to embark on incredible change. There are two types of people in the world: The fixed mindset group (majority), and the growth mindset group. As you can imagine, the fixed mindset believe things are the way they are and they will always be that way. Depressing, much? The growth mindset group believe the world is their oyster and there is always a lesson to be learned in order to continually grow and advance the malleable mind of our psyche. The growth mind focuses on positive attitudes, attributes, and outcomes. The growth mind has hope for a future all of man can live in while simultaneously dispersing the evils that be through acknowledging fear but instead choosing to pursue passions. Which mindset sound better to you?