My First Week in Berlin
After a long 15-hour plane ride, I have finally made it to Berlin! I have been living here for exactly one week, and one thing is for sure…I have never been so busy in my entire life! We always have something going on…which is tough for me, because I’m used to taking three naps a day. I thought it would be pretty difficult dealing with the jet lag. There is a 9-hour time difference between Berlin and Arizona. But we’ve been so busy, that I am usually EXHAUSTED by 9:00pm! Even though I really struggle to stay awake most of the day, I am having such a great time! It definitely feels like I’ve been here much longer than a week. The only downside is that I had a major surgery on my foot a few weeks ago, so I’m not able to walk too much. But other than being in a surgical boot, life in Berlin is great.
Berlin is such a beautiful city, and there’s always something new to see. We’ve been having some sort of tour almost every day, and that’s barely made a dent in all of the amazing things Germany has to offer. And the culture here is so unique! I have only been here for a short time, but I’ve already noticed some major differences between Germany and the United States:
They do not have air conditioning. Whether you are at a hotel, school, restaurant, or on a bus, I can guarantee that you will be covered in sweat. Germany has been focusing on being more environmentally friendly, so it’s very rare for you to be inside a building with cool air…which is very unfortunate since it’s been 100 degrees here with 90% humidity!
Water is not free. When you go to a restaurant, you can’t save any money by just ordering a glass of water… you still have to pay for it! Most of the time, ordering water is more expensive that ordering soda or beer. We went to a Thai restaurant the other day and the food was so spicy…I ended up spending 5 Euros just on water! Another important fact is that you need to specify whether you’d like your water to be carbonated or not—otherwise they’ll end up bringing you water “with gas.”
You have to pay to use the restroom. At the majority of places, it usually costs about 50 cents, and you pay whenever you’re finished. They’ll have an employee sitting at a table waiting to collect the money.
All stores are closed on Sundays—that’s a law in Germany. You aren’t able to buy groceries, go see a movie, or go shopping. I personally think this is a great rule…it forces families to spend time together at home or going on a walk, instead of hitting up the mall.
They have beer in the vending machines. I first noticed this at school one day. Right next to the Sprite and Snickers bars, there are big bottles of German beer. One of the students in my class was even drinking a beer during the lecture that week in the classroom. That is certainly something that wouldn’t be allowed in the United States!
Starbucks. Of course, that’s the most important thing. I’ve really been enjoying all of the different flavors you can get internationally! I don’t drink coffee, so it was very exciting to see all the flavors of cream-based frappuccinos they have here, rather than just the typical chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla that the American Starbucks offer. The same goes for Dunkin Donuts. We have one a few blocks away from where we live, so I love stopping and getting a different flavor after school each day. They have green apple, chocolate coconut, plum…dozens of varieties that probably wouldn’t be popular back home!
Although Germany offers a lifestyle that is extremely different than the one I’m used to having in the United States, I’m so happy I’ve had this experience and I can’t wait to see what the next 3 weeks bring me! Auf Wiedersehen!
McKenzie McClanahn is the Summer 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Berlin, Germany. She is currently a junior at Concordia University, Nebraska.