Monday, April 02, 2012


Despite being geographically rather close to my native Britain, Germany has enough cultural foibles and nuances to throw even the most western of Europeans completely off track.  Germany is the butt of an incredibly large volume of jokes in the UK and while still partial to make a few of them myself, I have had enough experience on the 'other side of the fence' to put most of them down to a lack of understanding between the two countries.   I'll defend the "Germans have no sense of humour" jibe to the hilt, realistically this sentence can be altered slightly to read "Germans have a different sense of humour to the British", I find this far more preferable even if it's still a horrendous stereotype. 

However, there are a handful of things for which I continue to have a complete lack of understanding or patience. (Warning: 1st world problem approaching). The number one 'foible', or as I like to call this one 'huge fucking, non-sensical pain in the arse' is one that I am currently going through. When you move between rented  houses/apartments in Germany (which is the norm) - you have to take everything with you.  Everything.  Along with the furniture, you take the kitchen units, the sink, the curtain rails, the lightbulbs, the light fittings and even the plug sockets. The apartment you move into is literally the walls, doors and the bathroom.  When I came to Germany, I had nothing bar my clothes, laptop and a sense of adventure - not ideal space-fillers.  It goes without saying that when I moved into my apartment I had to buy the whole lot.  The largest item I had previously owned was a surfboard, suddenly I found myself with a kitchen worktop, washing machine, oven and cupboards (Cupboards!! - What self-respecting free-spirit owns cupboards?) - it all stung my wallet and I swear even took a little of my youth away.  The commitment of owning an oven frightened the bejeesus out of me.  I didn't even bother to buy light fittings, I simply attached the lightbulbs to the wires dangling from the ceiling, designer style.  Once everything was installed however, it was a very comfortable place and a huge relief.

Now, upon moving out again to an apartment-share (already furnished) I'm trying desperately to offload everything.  I am trying to sell most things on to the guy that'll be moving in next month, he doesn't need most of it as he has his own, like most Germans do.  They move from apartment to apartment taking the same kitchen with them.  So this leaves me with a dilemma, how do I sell an entire kitchen to someone?  It fits my apartment perfectly. Not only do I have to find someone that needs an entire kitchen, but I need to find somone to sell it to that has a room with similar dimensions to mine.  It's a nightmare, especially considering my inability to effectively communicate in these situations with the native language.

If I had one piece of advice for Germans, it would be "When you install a kitchen, just leave it there", if just a handful of people started doing this then you wouldn't need to buy/bring another one when you moved.  Imagine that, a country full of houses with pre-installed, functioning kitchens that take a large amount of pain out of moving house - like Britian.


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