Friday, March 7, 2014

Flip Side of the Pond Friday

Just a short little intro…I thought it might be fun to start a non-sewing related regular post about what it is like to live on this side of the pond. I've often been asked if there is a big difference between the U.S. and Germany. I love the way one can answer this in German... Jein. (combination between Ja/yes and Nein/no) 

Other than the obvious backdrop of old architecture, differences in houses, and landscape, the differences are not as blaring as one might expect. But they are there and they are subtle. With Flip Side of the Pond Friday, I simply want to share an outsider's viewpoint of those small little details that make me realize that this is not the place that I grew up calling home. I'd love it if you join in with your own stories.


I can still vividly remember the very first trip that I ever made to Germany. My then future husband had made arrangements for various mini-trips, events, and meeting family and friends during my short stay. I can remember one visit with his friends, while still being greeted at the door, we were kindly asked to remove our shoes. Normally I would have been more than happy to oblige them on their kind request, except for the fact that for this trip I had severely under packed and even worse underestimated the weather, thinking in terms of the already spring and summer-like weather I had just left back in sunny North Carolina. I remember not only having cold feet the entire night, but that I had to sit on them the whole evening just to keep them warm.

At first, I just chalked the incident up to the fact that perhaps they were just overly protective about their newly installed wooden floors. But the longer I've lived here, the more encounters I've had with people asking me to take my shoes off upon arrival. Sure, if they are super muddy, soaking wet, or just plain full of dirt it's obvious to me, but this is almost a phenomenon that I had never experienced before.

At my son's kindergarten, greeting all visitors at the front door, one finds oversized, giant wool slippers that might appear to have been left behind by some Jack-and-the-Beanstalk character. For the non-native, they look quite odd. But what one is actually supposed to do with them, is slip them over your existing shoes, and glide from room to room so as not to track dirt throughout the whole building. Any German reading this would probably think, ummm, yeah, sounds logical, so what's the big deal? I suppose it's not really a big deal unless you've never seen anything like this before. I completely understand the logic behind this, but nonetheless it is a spectacle which would leave most Americans not quite knowing what to say.

But since living here, I have learned that while in Rome, do as the Romans do... packing your house shoes/slippers for everywhere you visit is a MUST - friends homes, any children's activities found in a gym, and even church!

As with most comparisons... no wrongs, no rights... just different.

Any stories from your side of the pond?


  1. So true! One thing I have learned is when in Germany saying let's go get something to eat means you are paying. There is no let's split up the check / go dutch. Maybe amonng the younger crowd, but if I were to say it to my in-laws they believe suggesting going out means that I wanted to pay too. Maybe this is just them, but in the states going out usually everyone divides up the check. Recycling is another big difference. Here we throw everything in one bucket and in Germany they have recycling for green and white glass, batteries, paper, and so forth. Have a great weekend!

  2. My husband complains about in the States that when you go to a restaurant that the waitress brings the check at the end of the meal. He finds it more appealing stay as long as he wants, to ask for the check when he is ready to leave, and not feel like he is being rushed off.

    Yeah, with recylcling my parents were really thrown for a loop when they visited. It took them a while any time they wanted to throw something away.


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