1. Church Bell Tolls- The bells of the main protestant church in Heidelberg ring daily on the hour! As someone who always forgets to wear her watch, I find them both beautiful and helpful!
2. Punctuality- If the schedule says the bus is arriving at 3:02, you can bet your money that it will be there exactly at 3:02- not a minute before, not a minute after. Coming from Southern California, where time is never of the essence and nothing starts until thirty minutes after the listed time, I used to find this frustrating. Why couldn’t the bus just wait two minutes for me, can’t the driver see I’m running to catch it? But now I find the punctuality incredibly refreshing and useful. I’ve learned to be more punctual, and it takes all the frustration and confusion out of travel.
3. Coinage- The Euro does not have bills under five euro, so all the small numbers are in coin form. Back home, I would never use my pocket change for anything other than parking meters, but here every cent counts. I always pay in exact change, and hardly have spare coins weighing down my wallet. Plus, it makes you feel like you aren’t spending as much money, even though its exactly the same in reality!
4. Cafe Culture- When you sit down at a cafe, you have that table as long as you want. There is no rush to make way for the next customer. It is not uncommon to lounge around for an entire afternoon, ordering multiple coffees or simply people watching! The waiter will never bring you the check before you ask, so as not to hurry you along.
5. Seasons- If you’ve read my blog for a while, you will know how much I love seasons. Sure, sometimes they make things a bit more complicated, but I embrace them just the same.
6. Cold Mornings- Call me crazy, but I prefer cold morning to warm. The crisp air helps me wake up, and I love seeing my breath as I walk to class. Plus, a scarf and a hat complete any outfit.
7. No Small Talk- I never realized how much Americans small talk on a daily basis. Although I grew up with it, I was never very good at it! Germans don’t possess small talk skills, and would rather jump right in to the big stuff.
8. The Language- Sometimes functioning in a society that doesn’t speak your language is exhausting, but most of the time I enjoy the challenge. I find the German language beautiful, and try to embrace every opportunity to speak it! Plus, it is much easier to tune out background noise when you can’t understand it!
9. German School Children- They really are the cutest. I pass an elementary school on my way to class every morning, and I love hearing their excited squeals as they climb on the playground. They have brightly colored, boxy backpacks, and adorable hats and mittens.
10. Train travel- Trains were a very foreign concept to me when I first arrived. I didn’t understand them, and longed for a good old fashioned car. But I slowly grew to love and appreciate the ease and convenience of the rail system!