I recently did the most patriotic thing you can possibly do as an American: I moved to another country.
Now, I know what you're thinking here, and that is boobs. Most of my readership is male, so, you know, you're probably thinking about titties, just like you are most of time, in a very boobular fashion. And a few ladies read my articles, and I just used the term "boobular," so of course you're thinking about breasts, now.
But all of that is off topic from the other thing you're thinking about, and that is how is moving to another country patriotic? Well, think about it, someone has to bring democracy and freedom to these godless heathens. And to any Germans—or just non-retarded people who are reading this and thinking, "But, erm, they already have, democracy. Working out pretty alright these days, actually"—to you I have to say, "Yes, and I don't care. They have really awesome beer here, so being here is better than not being here."
German's are huge into rules. Like, weirdly so. Point in case, crossing the street. Goddamn do those walk lights get taken seriously.And so far it's been the giant waterfall of beer and drunken escapades you would expect from a country that Americans only know for two things—and only one of those things can get you drunk and didn't try and cleanse the races of the world. But I do have to say, it's not exactly easy getting everything done around here, because well, it's Germany, and it's made for Germans, not impossibly lazy and ignorant Americans like myself, but still, keep these things in mind before you think about making the move across the pond.
1. The Language
If you want to stay in Germany for any length of time, or accomplish anything meaningful beyond getting brickfaced drunk over here (so, like, two, maybe four of my readers), then you're going to have to learn to speak German. And let me tell you, it is a powerfully, ridiculously silly language.
"Oh Cole," you say, nameless reader who ceaselessly interrupts my articles for the purpose of extending your own goals, "I'm sure they say the same thing about English! You need to respect all cultures and ways of life. Hey after this do you guys wanna go get some hummus? I know this great vegan place."
And to that, I say:
"No. No, it's not the goddamned same. And try some currywurst while you're here. They're wonderful."
English, in all actuality, is a fairly flexible language in the scheme of things. And other than our mostly useless spelling rules, our grammatical structure stays pretty much the same. If you fuck up one word in Deutsche, it all goes out the window and you are left screaming spittle in the face of a confused bratwurst salesman as you desperately attempt to get directions to somewhere you can take a shit. Did you know that objects here in Germany have genders? Like, not just how we affectionately refer to our ships and cars as "she," or our penises as "Thundersnake Rockiron," no no no, nothing that simple. Like, the floor is obviously male. Duh. And my fucking dresser must be treated in the manner usually reserved for a high class escort, because you best believe that shit is a lady. But seriously guys, fuck your bed. That shit doesn't get a gender.
And that really makes a huge difference, because every other grammatical form is based around how words are pronounced, depending on these genders.
As for the words themselves, the old joke about how someone speaking German to you sounds like they just found out you ran over their cat, forgot to take their meds this morning, and have access to way to many crowbars given their mental instability, is mostly false. Germans sounds pretty normal, and a good chunk of their words are pretty close to English. Buch is book. Wasser is water. Schue is shoe. Apfel is apple. But then every now and then, someone throws a Krankenversicherungskarte in your face and fucks your whole day up.
2. Actually Learning the Language
You want to learn German? Literally every person in this country will do their absolute damndest to make sure that you never, ever get to do that. Fucker.
You want to know why? Because there are exactly two levels of Germans who can speak English. The first, not a single goddamned word. They've managed to go their entire lives up to this point, and never get the bug up their ass about figuring out what any of the words from English mean. Not one. Fuck you if you want water and don't ask for wasser, or a Kaffee. They won't get it.
And then, the second level of fluency, and somehow the more annoying type, is the absolute fluent. They speak English, and no matter how much they try and convince you that they aren't very good at it, because there are like, six obscure, early fifteenth century English terms that they aren't entirely familiar with, they are probably better at English than you. And they want to practice their English.
"Hey, I'm trying to learn German, could we just—"
"Oh, that's cool, too."
It's actually a bit of a problem for someone like me who still has a lot of learning left to do in German, because if you try and speak German to a person who speaks English, then make one of the approximately infinity possible aforementioned grammatical mistakes (or simply mispronounce a word), they will immediately switch to English, and never ever ever speak another word of German to you. And they will ignore you when you try. Then they'll shit on you. Probably.
3. A Few Notes on the Bureaucratic Process of Germany
Fuck the bureaucratic process in Germany.
4. Getting a Job Here
Just sell crack.
That was a joke.
I would never advise you to actually sell crack.
Unless you're in Germany. Then it's totes cool. You pretty much have to. You want to work here? Where do you want to work? Anywhere? Are you better than everyone else in Germany at that job? You are? Cool. Now, are you better than everyone else in the entire European Union? Yes? Good. Because in order to get issued most kinds of work visas, those are the conditions you must fulfill.
What about if you want to expand your mind at one of the many wonderful German universities, while working on the side? That's fine, assuming you're alright with nineteen and a half hours a week. No, really, that's the most you're allowed to work as a student, legally. If you can manage to find a job that doles out mad cash and wants your non-German speaking ass, then congrats, hope the Less Than Half Full-Time hours you work fulfills your budgetary needs.
SPOILER ALERT: It won't.
5. Bagged Milk—No, Really
This…this isn't really a problem, because, I mean, they do have like, regular liters of milk and whatnot, but…like, seriously, bagged milk. I know they have it in parts of Canada, and plenty of other countries, but it's still weird as hell to see a floppy sack of milk just sitting there, without anyone else thinking it's weird. I actually got scolded at a store for giggling and playing with a bag for too long. Worth it.
I can't figure out what they're for, either. At all. I've asked people. Germans. Local Germans. And they aren't that sure, either. The bagged milk is comparable in price to the logically contained bovine juice, and it seems to me that if you don't use it all at once…your fridge is gonna get pretty milky pretty quick.
Feel free to educate me and correct my ignorant ways in the comments.
No, really. Not being sarcastic. I'm honestly curious as fuck.
6. Crossing the Street
German's are huge into rules. Like, weirdly so. Point in case, crossing the street.
They have the exact same basic street crossing principles that we do in the states. One light on the post means, "Totes cool to straight up cross this bitch, yo," and another light that means, "Hold your ground, Spartans." And goddamn do those lights get taken seriously.
You can be on a deserted side road at one in the morning, with a clear view in every direction for kilometers and kilometers, during a torrential downpour and the destination can be right there on the other side of the road, but nope, fuck it, people will honest to God wait for the light to tell them to go. How do I know that? Because I witnessed that exact situation.
And it's the same in the cities too. Motherfuckers will seriously wait, no matter how clear it is. I used to live in Chicago, and there, if you see a gap in the traffic wide enough to vigorously wiggle a half-aroused mosquito's johnson through, then you damned well take that opportunity to rush to the other side. And that's expected. Germany is Oppositeworld compared to that.
For the average person, it's not much of a drawback. You just walk anyway. Fuck it. As far as I can tell it's not actually illegal in a lot of places, just frowned upon.
But if you're like me, and have the sort of fear of standing out in any way that I do, the sort of stage fright that makes you want to dive under the nearest fast moving bus if someone you don't know even gives you a sideways glance, then it's a real problem. I'm pretty much rooted in place until the others start moving. And yes, I realize that's probably going to be a real problem for me someday. But there are other people in the world who have that social awkwardness that will make this annoying for them too.
7. Chase Bank Kind of Sucks, Sometimes
This is not Germany-specific, just more of an international thing in general, and in actuality is gonna be me bitching about my bank for a couple of paragraphs. So, whether you've enjoyed the article so far or not, it's done after this, so like, if you're used to my bitching and feel like your life is complete without any more of it, feel free to go back to playing Candy Rush or some shit. We're cool.
But, if you decided to stay, enjoy my ranting.
When you travel internationally these days, your money situation is pretty much taken care of. If you have a debit card, that is. Most nations on this green Earth have plenty of ATM's (Geldautomats, here) around for your capitalist pleasures. But this is, of course, assuming that nothing ever happens to your debit card. Ever.
Now, do you know how your debit card actually works? I do.
These magnet elves make their living on the backside of your card, always living in a straight, black line. They keep stuff in order, like that. It's kind of their thing.
Now, these magnet elves are usually very reliable. They work internationally just fine. Unless they get injured in some way.
One day, I was attempting to get some money, to move into my new apartment, when suddenly the magnet elves stopped working. Checking in on their lovely community I found that there was some disturbance. A miniature Godzilla (or Cloverfield monster, for those of you who like your city-destroying beasts to be terrible) had wreaked havoc across Downtown Elftown, leaving a swath of the black area gone.
My debit card was broken, and the elves would no longer lend their assistance to my cause.
Fortunately, I had just opened up a German bank account, so I didn't think it would be much of a problem to get money anyway.
But my bank disagreed firmly with my sentiment.
In order to save some time, and also to not piss off a large, multi-national corporation, I won't go too far into detail about a bunch of it, but I will say that I went a FULL WEEK with absolutely no access to my currency. Needless to say, I had to make some cutbacks.
So, maybe make sure you have some backup plans if you intend to travel internationally long-term. Or short-term. Just saying. I have money though, so it's cool now. I can get drunk again.
Thank you for sticking that out. I will refrain from doing that too much in the future. Speaking of the future, tune in next week(ish) for the sequel article to this one, wherein I lather your face with creamy, salty reasons why you should look into a German move. And I promise that at least most of them won't just be me screaming the word "beer" over and over again.