I told my Mom about my improvements in English. She laughed a lot and said I should write it down. So I will... like Mom told me.
I come along very good. I can understand most of the conversations around me and with a little patience people can understand me too. But sometimes the differences in language and cuture are significant.
On my first 3 days in Seattle I observed some situations I couldn't remember as a difference from US journeys before.
At the Supermarket:
1. Paper or plastic? This question came at the cashier. Very fast and hard to understand. I thought, maybe the payment? If cash or creditcard. Marco just said 'fine'. Maybe he don't know also. Oh, now I know. It's the bag material if you like paper or plastic bags.
In Germany you have to pay for your plastic bags (0,10-0,40 Euro), you have to put it on the counter your own if you like some and paper bags are not common.
2. Debit or credit? This question came at cashier too. If you like to pay with your creditcard on a credit or debit base.
In Germany we have other cards (Maestro) for our Bankaccounts and payment by debit. If we take the creditcard it's always on 'credit'. You wouldn't be asked. If you stand in front of the cashier you will have cash, a Maestro or a Creditcard in your hand. No question than.
3. Clubcards and 2 for 1
Every supermarket chain will keep you as a customer. They will give you a lot of discount if you have one of their clubcards. Sometimes you have to pay the double price without this clubcard. It's really a big deal. But I can't imagine people will go to only one store because of their clubcards. Now we have every clubcard from every store and get every discount, rebate and special offer. All shops distribute their leaflets in our mailbox. No difference.
In Germany the chains started 2 or 3 years ago with giving out shop independent clubcards (payback, happydigits, the 2 bestknown cards) which allows you to buy in some stores. You get special offers and points for your shopping. With these bonus points you can get award, points for other systems like Miles & More or gift certificate for a store.
Every supermarket provide a big parking spot. The place for each car is drawed on the ground and the are very big. A lot of pickups and SUVs are around. And everyone is very careful and slow.
The parking spaces are much smaller. You cruise around and the biggest cars are VW busses, vans or Mercedes. No pickups.
On New Eve
We had a big and beautiful firework on the top of the Space Needle in Seattle. People at this party were standing in the street and toasting at midnight with champagne. But no neighbours, no other people were in the street.
In Germany everyone is allowed to start a firework and a lot of people do. All people are in the street for toasting and partying. We also like to do Bleigiessen - lead fortunetelling.
In the US the best way to buy a Christmas tree is to buy one on Charity Sales for schools or a volunteer organisations. The trees are smaller and cutted in shape. You put it in your livingroom 2 or 3 weeks to Christmas. To decorate it use ornaments (balls or stars or snowflakes) and lights. Or you can buy a decorated and 'ready-to-stand' plastic tree. 20 percent of all houses have christmas decoration outside in the frontyard or on the house.
The gifts for relatives and friends were placed under the Christmas tree some days before. If children in the house, the night before Christmas day (25.) the gifts are much more if Santa comes down the chimney at night. On the morning everyone gets gifts.
In Germany we buy a tree on special sales areas, mostly next to shopping centres or supermarkets. Its a regular sale organized by polish or eastern people. The trees are 6 feet and higher and bought only a few days earlier to Christmas Evening (24.). Parents hide the tree and on Christmas afternoon (24.) children are send somewhere (Grandparents, cinema, church service,...). Parents are decorate the tree with ornaments, often selfmade, stars out of straw or paper and with candles. One the evening a bell rings, all enter the livingroom together singing Christmas Carols and the Christkind brought the tree and gifts.
1. Kitchen and appliances
In the US all homes to rent provide a kitchen, fridge, washer, dryer, maybe dishwasher and plenty of storage.
In Germany you can rent a home which provides this, but it's not always this. I think 50/50 chance to get it. Otherwise you have to bring your own kitchen and household appliances.
2. Paying rent
In the US you have to bring a check to your landlord end of the month to pay your rent.
In Germany you will give a Einzugsermächtigung. Your landlord can do a debit advice your bank account.
Optimistic, curious, human bee.