top 10 Germany and USA differences
10. Munich trains vs chicago trains - sound proof and smooth trains in Munich, I had actually thought the CTA trains in Chicago were nice until coming back and riding them after riding the Munich trains, I think tractors driving across a field are smoother....and quieter.
9. free open wifi - Chicago has free wifi everywhere, well, about 50% of the connections are open to the public but they are easy to find. Munich has one open wifi, at Burger King in Munich, otherwise they are ALL password protected, frustrating when you don't have real phone service and only a wifi device and you could really use google maps at that very second.
8. water - water isn't water in Germany (or should I say "wasser"?). The first few times that many of us ordered a "wasser" we got CO2 sparkling water. Even when we tried to order it "on tap" we would get it with CO2. We finally broke down and asked how we were supposed to order plain tap water. Naturale = CO2, medium = less CO2 and Stille = plain tap water. Whereas in the US, you can't find sparkling water even if you have a wifi device handy.
7. credit cards - Probably only used it 3 times in Germany because nobody accepted it, some places did but the minimum purchase was usually around 35euro. Cash only for everything, whereas in the US I'll buy a stick of gum with my plastic and go for weeks with only carrying a $10 bill in my pocket. Ah, back to the world of charging everything...
6. trees - So when I got back to Chicago I was expecting the leaves to be the same size as in Germany. nope. Summer leaves in full swing in Germany and just starting to grow and fill out in US, yeah, I get to experience two springs this year!
5. bum's street clothes - We bumped into a few street bums in Germany and Belgium that actually dressed up in a dress or suit in order to look presentable before begging. Whereas when I got to Chicago I saw people wearing dirty shirts, messed hair, untied shoes (these weren't the bums, but just some typical Chicago people) I find it perplexing how we in a our "rich" country can decide to keep ourselves so unclean and the bums from Europe actually take the effort to dress up a little.
4. house construction - I looked at a lot of houses when I was in Germany and Austria and I like the construction. They are typically red tile "cinder" block walls coated with stucco plaster and then red tile shingles. There also was a lot of authentic wood window shutters and really cool balconies that give that Bavarian-house look. As a result these houses stay pretty cool and rarely need to use air conditioning. In comparison US houses have cheap stud walls with cheap vinyl siding and cheap asphalt shingles filled with cheap Chinese made stuff from Walmart. (Germans try to buy eveything made locally or at least from the EU) Well at least we aren't in a housing crisis or anything....
3. beer/smoking - Yes you can drink beer on the streets, as well as the trains in Germany. Nobody looks at you funny or condemns you. I think commuting and drinking responsibly is a good reward for not adding on more greenhouse gas-emitting vehicle to the roads (the trains run by electricity) But for every good thing, it is balanced by bad. Way too many smokers for my comfort, and even though Germany recently passed a law saying you can't smoke in restaurants, you still saw it happen a lot and the bier gartens were sometimes a large outdoor ashtray. I appreciate the smokefree areas that we have in the States...
2. world news, especially US news - after talking with the Perssons, I realized how arrogant we Americans can be. They told me about the tornados in AL and news about the Obama staff personnel changes. Apparently the US impacts the rest of the business world so much that most Germans closely follow the US elections, US politics and US news more closely than Americans do, most notably myself.
1. Pork - I don't want to eat pork for awhile (with the exception of maybe bacon, of course) Germans will occasionaly offer chicken or beef, but that is like finding veal and duck on American menus, you have to look a little harder for it. I would venture to say 90% of the meat I ate in Germany was pork whereas 10% of the meat I eat in the US is pork. But at least I can order about 10 different pork dishes in German now!
And I thought I'd share a few brain farts with you since I've been back...
1. I keep thinking that I can't call anybody that I know until after 2PM (7AM central time if I was still in Munich)
2. I keep looking for my European adapter every time I want to plug something into the standard electrical receptacle.
3. I couldn't find a recycling bin next to the trash bin in Chicago and resorted to throwing out a plastic bottle in the trash (about US$0.38 deposit if in Germany, ouch!)
4. I keep telling people "danke" instead of "thanks" even though I don't have to anymore
5. I woke up in my old Pella bed and was wondering what town in Germany/Austria I was in. (at least I have appeared to beat the jetlag finally!)
Also, I guess if you spend too much time in Munich and drinking Paulaner beer you begin to assimulate... ;)