I gotta say, I was pretty spoiled before. Not in the way of material things, but more the fact that my parents did all the cooking, laundry and pretty much all the other house cleaning chores. I don’t think I ever had to set foot in a grocery store either. All the food my mom bought and cooked, I ate. She even took the time to make the food that I liked to eat. That all changed when I came to Germany. Well, it’s been a time of firsts.
To state this bluntly, I can’t cook. I came here without knowing one of the most critical things to keep myself alive. In order to avert the crisis of me starving to death, I had to learn this crucial skill. I already know how to cook like eggs, bacon, and pasta (but not the sauce, unfortunately), but it’s not like I really know how to cook. I can’t eat that stuff everyday either. I remember during my first few weeks here, I researched online for different recipes. I sucked so much at cooking that I didn’t even understand what I was reading. Marinate? Sautee? What? Instead of following recipes, I took a different approach. I started with the easy stuff. Potatoes. I was so bad that I even cut myself the first time I tried cooking potatoes. I think I’ve gone a long way since then. Now I know how to marinate my meat (thanks to my mom for teaching me that over VOIP), and how to make sauces like curry. It doesn’t sound like much, but I probably quadrupled, if not tripled my cooking knowledge. I want to learn some more like how to steam my own fish and cook rice with a stove (too bad I don’t have a rice cooker). I am by no means a decent chef at all, but it’s a start.
I wasn’t so clueless in this regard, but it didn’t help when I couldn’t read any of the food labels in the supermarket. Luckily I installed an English-Deutsch dictionary app on my phone before I left Vancouver. The app saved me so many times already. It was kind of like, “What the hell does this mean?”, type type type, and then “oh, so that’s what it is”. I think I ended up eating nothing by sandwiches for almost a whole week. I mean, I can buy eggs, sausages, bacon and all that, but I had no idea what canola oil was called. The dictionary didn’t help here, unfortunately, since they used a different word altogether. Eventually, I figured out everything, and now I’m buying all the food I can eat and more.
My flat doesn’t have a washing machine, and I wasn’t about to pay to go to the Laundromat. I didn’t even know where it was either. I knew that my mom occasionally washed some clothes by hand and so I consulted her on how to do it. Her instructions sounded simple enough, but I needed to go out to buy laundry detergent. Problem: I didn’t know what that was called in German. I looked it up on my phone and found out. I thought it’d be pretty straight forward after knowing what laundry detergent was called, but I was so wrong. I went to the laundry section in the store and saw about fifteen different brands/kinds of detergent. I had no idea which was which. I stared at the wall of items for about twenty minutes while looking up various words on my phone before I knew which one to get.
Since I’m here, I must take the time to travel around Germany and its nearby countries. Before doing that however, I had to look up the places I wanted to go. How do I get there? How much will it cost? Where will I stay? Only two methods really exist for transportation: train or plane. To book a ticket for travelling, I had to use the Deutsche Bahn website and that site confused the hell out of me for the first little while. But now I know. Booking flights should have been quite simple, except for the fact that the discount airlines don’t fly out of the major airports. Now I had to think about how to get myself to one of these airports. Seeing that I’m not made of money, I try to optimize costs everywhere. 50 euro a night for a hostel? No way, time to look for something cheaper. 30 euro? That’s a good deal. Despite all this planning, I’ve gone to so many places already, and I still have not exhausted my list of places to go.
Stereotypes say that Germans like to drink, and it’s totally true. Although, it’s not really my first time drinking, it is my first time making a habit of it. Every Thursday is my drinking day. Sometimes Saturdays too. I’m never looking to get hammered, but I find that drinking beer and socializing is just super relaxing. Typically, I try a new beer every week, but a lot of times I just order my favorite beer, Hefeweizen.
Living in Another Country
This is the first time I’ve ever left home for longer than a week. I used to live on residence at the university, but I went home every weekend. I could go home every weekend and enjoy my mom’s wonderful cooking. I have no such luxury here. I often find myself craving the things I’ve temporarily given up in order to be here. Besides missing family and friends while over here, I started appreciating the little things. It’s just things like sleeping in my own bed, sitting in my own computer chair, and eating Chinese food.
Dealing with A Landlord
I always thought a landlord was just someone you pay so you can live in their house, but I learned to realize that it’s not only that. A landlord is analogous to a dictator (but obviously not as bad). They pretty much have total control over how I like to live in their space. If they’ve got a problem with something I’m doing, they’ll tell me and I have to change my habits for them. Just like the time where I showered too long. Luckily, my landlords are pretty nice people, but I could have been really unlucky and gotten some mean ones. Maybe the mean ones might even try to kick out their tenants if they didn’t like the way their lifestyle.