On the unfamiliar and the art of adjusting.

I made it to München and I’m still alive 🙂

I’ve been here for a week and I’m still drowning in a puddle of bureaucracy – health insurance, registering my address, opening a bank account, internet.. the list goes on.. who said moving abroad would be easy? – my to-do lists are taking over my life…

but things are AMAZING! This is my room for September until I move into my permanent accommodation:


I’ve been in München for 6 days and I thought it would be interesting to write a little list of the differences I’ve noticed so far (I’m sure this list will enlarge massively as the year goes on):

  1.  Sundays are Ruhetagen

All shops are closed in Munich on Sundays and everything is so quiet and peaceful.  It’s the strangest and most inconvenient thing.  But its lovely – the only things open are Museums and Art Galleries and on Sundays these only cost 1 Euro to go into.  It truly is a day of rest and peace (if somewhat awkward if you forgot to buy tea bags on Saturday night).  The shops also close every night at 8 o’clock.  I think we are a bit spoilt at home, this is a city of 1.2 million people and the shops close at 8pm.  7 thousand people in Lerwick at home and Tesco is open until 11pm every night…


  1.   A greener lifestyle

The Germans seem to be all about saving energy!  In all the U-Bahn (underground stations) there are escalators but the escalators do not move.  At first I thought they were just broken and so always took the stairs.  Felt like a right idiot when it turned out that they only move when you step on them, so as to save energy when they are not being used.  ALSO they go in both directions, so if someone steps on it at the bottom, it goes up.  Likewise, if someone steps on it at the top, it goes down.  SO COOL.  Also while we are on the topic of transport in Germany.. it is so efficient it is almost impossible.  The Germans do have a reputation of being efficient and in this case they certainly live up to it! Its also clean and incredibly fast. Think the opposite of Scotrail.

I also got the shock of my life when I went in the shower for the first time.  I stepped in the shower and turned it on and turned up the temperature.  The shower head lit up and flashed red.  Me being the twit that I am thought ‘cool, disco shower’ and bobbed along to the shower radio under the flashing showerhead.  Wrong again.  Turns out it was flashing red because I had it too hot and was wasting energy.  Ooooops…

I think the culture of recycling here is really admirable, something I feel really ashamed that we do not do more of back home – we really do not do half of what the Germans in terms of environment protection. For example you do not get plastic bags in the supermarkets at all unless you pay, everyone brings their own bags even if they are only buying a couple of things. The government pay you for your plastic. Recycling is basically a sport here – there are so many rules and you HAVE to follow them. Its just the done thing.

  1.  Cuppa Tea please

Much to my horror, people in Munich do not drink tea like we do in the UK.  Finding a cup of tea that isn’t some weird fruity mixture or Earl Gray is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  In fact, food shopping is the one thing that really makes you feel like you’re away from home.  It is the most foreign thing because (at least to me) food is such a comfort and usually such a familiar thing. They don’t really drink still water here – it is all fizzy. This tastes horrendous to me and doesn’t quench my thirst at all! But I suppose I will adapt. Really does throw a greedy person like me out of sorts when you can’t find your favourite cheese or some pine nuts in the supermarket. On a happier note there are many, many Kinder Buenos.

The Germans are also massive on organic products. There are whole supermarkets everywhere that only sell organic food.

Speaking German constantly, hearing German on TV, radio on the train.. it is so tiring. I’m staying in a flat for September before I move into the Olympic Village and my flat mate asked me about Scotland today – in particular about taxes, inequality between the sexes, health insurance, politics and gay marriage. There were points in the conversation that I felt like running into my room and crying into Google translate. I can only hope at this point that it gets easier!

When I wrote my last post I was suffering massively with ‘Fernweh’. This is a brilliant German word which we do not have the equivalent of in English but it basically translates to the opposite of homesickness. Almost like an urge to travel, an urge to visit other countries. I can’t see this changing into Heimweh (homesickness) anytime soon in this beautiful city. I mean, I don’t know anyone who has regretted moving abroad but I know plenty who have regretted staying behind. Although I am finding the weather a little bit obnoxious, I mean, it’s September.. it should NOT be this hot.

I still feel like I’m straddling two different universes, in a bit of a limbo. I’m this tiny short person in a sea of 6 foot tall Germans. Its only been a week. I’ve gotten lost loads and I’ve made bad decisions. But I keep having to remind myself that the whole point in this experience is to fall down and and that I’m allowed to get lost sometimes.  Or maybe that’s just something careless people like me say to excuse their stupid actions? Haha.

The one thing I would like to say is that the Germans are the friendliest people I have ever met. They are extremely direct and they say what they mean – but its nice! There is no small talk at the supermarket till – they don’t have that British need to pretend to care about what you have been up to that day. There is none of that overly British politeness with the too many ‘sorry’s and ‘thank you’s. They will tell you if you are in their way and it is not ‘excuse me, sorry’ it is ‘MOVE’. It can be intimidating but I always know where I stand with the Germans. I’ve made so many friends already that I can tell will be friends for life. There is no falseness. Although attempting to explain in German all about the Scottish independence referendum next week is proving difficult!

I also went to a German play that my friend was in last night, it invloved lots of nakedness and lots of Nazi jokes. it seems I underestimated the German humour…
Bis Zum nächsten Mal!



10 thoughts on “On the unfamiliar and the art of adjusting.

  1. Loved your posting Jennifer – thanks for the chuckles 🙂 It sounds as if you are enjoying yourself, keep it up! All the best Carole & Alex

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Hi,

    I enjoyed reading your post this morning. My chuckle for the day. It caused me to recollect 27 years ago when we moved to the U.S. from Canada. I too had made a list of differences, not quite like yours, but they were differences. We all spoke English though with varying accents.

    The food is a big one as that is our comfort. We still purchase our tea from the British Store. And whenever we made a trip to Canada we would purchase extra of the things we couldn’t live without. I see “care packages” coming from Lerwick 🙂

    I have this vision of not being able to get off the escalator as one person reverses the direction while you are on it.

    This is a wonderful learning experience for you. Hopefully all the bureaucracy settles out soon. That really does consume the energy you’d rather spend enjoying life and meeting new friends.

    Take care and ENJOY,

    Donna from Colorado


    • Ah yes, I have never visited Canda and only ever visited America once and it was Florida Disneyland which I guess is not the ‘real’ America! But I can see that there would definitely be cultural differences! I suppose it takes a while to get the feel of a place!
      Hope you are all well! 🙂


  3. Hey Jennifer!! Welcome to München!! I couldnt help but laugh of your comments, of course in a nice way, your impressions were probably the same ones I had when I first moved here… especially the stores closing so early, the recycling system and the tea part 😀 great observations! You will get used to it all… and soon enough you will realize you will miss it! If you ever need anything, let me know, I will be more than happy to help. In fact, Im happy you found a temporary place to stay 🙂 good luck with everything!


      • You’re welcome, Im happy you are comfortable 🙂
        I can imagine, it was for me too… not so much because I lived in other countries before, but Germany has its own differences, so somethings seemed weird at first…then you get used to it 😀
        Ohh wowww, thats awesome, I hope you have fun at the Wiesn, it will be an amazing and different experience! Post some pictures 😀


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