Learning a new culture
August 15, 2012
Well, it’s time to try writing another post. This time I’m going to save my draft as I go so that it hopefully won’t get deleted, like the last 2 I tried to write. Today marks our week-and-a-half point that we have been in Munich. Everything is still very new and different, but we have started to feel like we’re settling in. In this post I simply want to share a few highlights from our first few days here and some fun things I’ve observed about the culture so far.
The first bit of culture worth noting is the recycling. Germans have a reputation for this, and in my experience so far they have lived up to it:
These are the containers for paper recycling, compost, and trash. Quite a detailed system right? These containers are to be used by our subdivision–each little subdivision and area has an identical set of recycling containers. Are we recycling? Definitely, and here’s why. I have heard Germans say that for them, recycling is a matter of conscience. One admitted feeling a sense of guilt if they did not do it. So, we are not wanting to lay any stumbling blocks, so to speak, and are therefore recycling. I asked a friend here what actually gets thrown out, since practically everything can be recycled. Their response: Nothing! Take a tea bag, for example. The actual bag containing the tea should go in the compost pile, the string and paper goes in the paper container, while the staple holding the string to the bag gets put in the aluminum/metal container.
Another interesting observation here is their love of Nutella. The cabinets in our living area have a plentiful supply of it, the grocery stores have whole shelves full of it. I couldn’t help but chuckle the other day as we were shopping because I saw several people pushing carts full of nothing besides NUTELLA–at least 50 containers of the stuff in each cart. We, however, are being very ungerman and buying the off-brand to save a couple euro’s. By the way, if you haven’t tried Nutella, you are really missing out. It is available in the states.
I took my girls last week to see the University where I’ll start in October. We have an official LMU hoody now, and I have my library card. The libraries here, however, work differently. You can’t actually browse through the stacks of books. Instead, you request the book on the computer, and a couple of days later the book is available for pick up (some librarian actually gets the book from its unseen, mysterious location).
The view from outside the front door of the main building on campus. This area is named for the Scholl siblings who led a famous revolt on the campus against the Nazi’s and lost their lives for doing so.
Since I mentioned libraries, I should mention the wonderful library here at our Lutheran housing area. A previous NT Prof at LMU just donated his books to our library, boosting our collection from 27,000 volumes to 35,000. Most of these are theological books. I am thrilled. I was only able to bring a few of my books along. Now I realized I did not need them. This library is well equipped and contains most of the books I left at home, and all that I brought with me! Can’t wait to find a corner in the library and hunker down.
We are really enjoying our subdivision. Our housing area is located in the heart of one of Munich’s historic boroughs. The unique houses are rivaled by their beautiful gardens, each enclosed by plush hedges overgrowing sturdy privacy walls. I have yet to see a house without a wall and hedge. Almost as nice as the gardens and hedges are the plethora of BMWs and Mercedes parked in front of the houses. 300 meters north of our subdivision lies a large nature protection, wild park. 500 meters south begins the famous English Gardens, as well as several playgrounds. There are several Biergartens within walking distance of our house. We do most of our grocery shopping so far at the nearby Aldi, a german discount grocery (also found in the States). Enjoy these pics of our subdivision:
Despite the privacy hedges, I had a very exciting encounter yesterday. I was out walking with my daughter. She was chattering to me as we walked by a hedge. It turns out there was a lady in her garden who heard us and came up to say hi. It was the very same lady we met on our first morning here! She remembered us and said, “oh die Amerikaner!” We proceeded to have another nice conversation. This was very memorable to me because it was my first time to converse with a neighbor over the hedge, so to speak. In other words, to have a neighbor pause and converse from within the privacy of her own yard was quite an experience, I think.