Category: Females

Germany: One Year On

GOYO01
Nürnberg old town

It’s strange to think that I’ve been living in Germany for more than a year now. I feel like this time has flown by in the blink of an eye! But my initial reaction to the country still hasn’t changed – I really love living here and the Germans make life so easy.

Here are some German situations that I don’t even bat an eyelid at anymore:

GOYO02
Cologne Cathedral

Open invitations

Something that constantly surprised me at the start (and I admit, it still sometimes does) is that I got invited to everything. I must have been used to people being more exclusive and ‘invite only’ with their gatherings, because I found that Germans were the complete opposite – so warm and welcoming.

Dinners, barbecues, birthday parties of a friend-of-a-friend’s, it didn’t matter; I was invited along to them all. Even if the person that invited me was the only person I knew there and I felt like I was gate-crashing the event.

It didn’t even matter that I couldn’t speak German – time and time again I found that the whole group at the gathering would completely switch to English for me, even when talking amongst themselves. I was baffled. And totally charmed. Way to go Germany for making the Hobbit in the room feel completely welcome!

GOYO06
Lüneburg

Street harassment…or lack thereof

One of the very best things that I have experienced since being in Germany is the lack of street harassment.

The pure joy I feel every day at being able to walk the streets day or night and not be whistled at, honked at, catcalled out of car windows or shouted at by leering men passing by is so damn great. And literally all of these things are what I had to endure on a daily basis even just walking down my own street back home. But this surprises no woman – we have all been through this and continue to go through this public victimisation regularly.

Of course, bigger cities in Germany may be a different story, but this is from my personal experience living in a small Bavarian city. It’s so nice to know that in some places, everyone can be left alone to walk, run and bike in peace.

GOYO08
Old town of Heidelberg

Jeans are the uniform

If you don’t know what to wear, put on your jeans and you’ll fit right in. This is what I would have told myself a year ago when I was fretting about what to wear to a birthday party that I’d been invited to out of the blue.

In Germany, jeans are the uniform. I don’t think I’d ever seen so many people in jeans until I came here! I would say that everyone dresses in a very practical manner. If it’s winter, you wear jeans and a jacket and if it’s summer, you wear jeans and a T-shirt.

You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you go out in shorts when it’s only (gasp) 20 degrees…this is from experience. (Although I’d be in shorts even at 15 degrees back in NZ).

I’ve also always been used to dressing up when going out, even just to have a drink at the bar, but here, there is no such unwritten social rule. So jeans and a T-shirt to the bar it is – and I ain’t complaining!

3
Oktoberfest in Munich

The customer service is so bad that it’s good

It’s always been said the Japanese and Germans get along well because they have some cultural norms in common, but boy, customer service is not one of them!

If you walk into a shop and get a greeting from the shop person, that’s a good sign, but the majority of the time you will be ignored, or grudgingly served like it is the last thing that they want to do. I’ve been in places where the shop assistants are openly chatting across the shop to each other and ignoring customers. A friend once said to me that his bank bluntly told him that there is no customer service there.

This would normally be regarded as a bad thing…but as an introvert, I absolutely love it.

I’ve always just really hated being spoken to in shops. The worst case scenario was when clothes shop assistants would follow me to the changing rooms and call through my door asking if they should bring another size…and I cringed every time. But here, I’m left totally alone to do my own thing, at my own pace, without the weird pressure they put on you to buy something. It’s a godsend, I tell you.

GOYO11
The old post tower in Hamburg

Supermarket Master Packer (SMP) status

I never realised that the bag packers at supermarket checkouts were a luxury…until I came here and saw that no such job description exists.

When you’re at a German supermarket, you have to have a plan of attack before you go to the checkout because this is war…a war between you and the checkout operator.

They zap your groceries through as fast as greased lightning and if you’re not ready to bag your items just as quickly on the other side, you lose the fight and hold all of the next customers up, your groceries mixing up with theirs. I know, I’ve been there. The horrors. So here’s what you do:

  1. Load your groceries onto the conveyor belt. Make sure your heavy items go first and your fragile, easily squished items like tomatoes and bread goes last.
  2. Get your fabric tote bags ready and open (come on, you’re not paying extra for plastic bags).
  3. Have your wallet at the ready. Preferably nestled under your armpit for quick access.
  4. Start bagging your items as soon as they get zapped, alternating items between your bags so they will each end up with an even load. (You’ll gain a few extra seconds every time the checkout operator has to weigh your vegetables/fruit and look up the price of the bread you’re getting).
  5. Pay quickly with cash (and not all with small change).
  6. Smile, wish them a good day and walk away with your finely packed groceries and know that the battle has been won. (A big explosion goes off behind you and you keep walking in slow motion without looking back).

 

D02
Europe’s largest Buddhist temple in Düsseldorf

What do I miss?

As I’ve mentioned before, the one thing I’ve really missed since living in Europe is good (and affordable) Japanese food. And Indian food. And Thai food. And Vietnamese and Korean and Chinese food.

I’ve found that a lot of Asian cuisines tend to get lumped together here, under the umbrella term of ‘Asian Fusion’.  And even then, it’s usually just low quality Chinese food with some Thai curry options and a side of suspicious sushi. If you’re lucky enough to find a proper Japanese restaurant with real Japanese cooks, it’s likely to be upmarket and very expensive. (Unless you go to Düsseldorf. Yes please!)

I just really, really miss these different cuisines! Of course bigger cities will have more authentic Asian restaurants with reasonable prices, but there’s not much hope out here in the smaller ones. It makes me realise how spoilt for choice we are in New Zealand with our melting pot of different eateries on every street corner!

 


So, did you like my post about some of my German experiences?

Any other expats got something to add to the list? Let me know!


 

 D00

0001

Passau00

Advertisements

Endometriosis: The Chronic Condition that Affects Every 1 in 10 Females

The-Endometriosis-Network-C

If you haven’t heard of Endometriosis before, you NEED to know about this – everybody needs to know about this.

This is not just a woman’s issue. Men need to know about this too if they have girls and women in their lives that they care about. Your mother, sister, partner, friend or colleague could have this condition, and chances are, it is actually very likely that at least one person you know has it. If someone important to you has Endometriosis, it is an issue that will affect you too.

So, what is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common condition where the tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found growing outside of the uterus, where it shouldn’t be. It can cause inflammation, cysts or nodules to form anywhere within the pelvic region; on the ovaries, bowel, bladder, uterus and more. As you can imagine, this can cause chronic pain for the person that has it and they may not even know that this is caused by Endometriosis.

Symptoms (taken from nzendo.org.nz)

  • pain with periods (dysmenorrhoea). Often the most common symptom
  • bowel problems like bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, pain with bowel movements, painful wind (sometimes diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • sub-fertility or infertility
  • tiredness and low energy
  • pain in other places such as the lower back
  • pain at other times e.g. with ovulation or intermittently throughout the month
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This might make you feel moody, emotional or irritable
  • abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • bladder troubles like interstitial cystitis (IC)

Discomfort with periods is often normal, distress is never normal.

Pain during sexual intercourse or afterwards can be common. Internal examination and / or cervical smear can also be painful.

Do any of these symptoms sound like you or somebody that you know?

More Information

Endometriosis New Zealand

What I Wish Everyone Knew About Endometriosis

Celebrities with Endometriosis

Endometriosis.org

The Guardian: Hidden Suffering of Millions of Women Revealed

Personal

Off the top of my head, I can think of about 5 people that I know that has Endometriosis, and there are probably more that I don’t know about. I have heard and read so many stories about women that have said they have suffered through years of this condition whilst being undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed by doctors.

It is such a common condition, it affects over 176 million women worldwide, and yet so little is known about it. And there is no known cure. Even after multiple operations to get the cysts and/or nodules removed, it can still come back.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have Endometriosis, please get it checked out. Even if doctors think it’s something else, or that you’re ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ to have it, keep looking for a doctor or gynaecologist who knows about Endometriosis and can help you. This disease is too awful to have to handle on your own or to suffer in silence.

 


Awareness is always the first step, so make sure to spread the word!