Sonntag, 20. März 2011

Weird Differences

It is about time I write again. I have had this topic on my mind for quite a while now. I have been thinking about the differences between German and American everyday things. That mostly includes groceries. It is actually really funny to come here and discover all the differences in food and culture. I am constantly surprised by things that I find in the grocery store. To begin with: milk. You can not find milk here that is lower than 1.5% milk fat. They only carry whole milk and low fat milk in even the biggest grocery stores. It is also only sold in quart sized cartons. Baking powder and soda come in packets. Yes packets. They look like tea bags! I had the hardest time finding baking powder for that reason. One of my favorite parts of the chicken is the thigh. I can't find thighs anywhere! That is not such a big deal though considering I eat mostly eggs. Speaking of which, eggs here are sold in 10 or 6, but never 12. Store bought eggs are also way better than store bought eggs in the states. The yolks are so yellow! They are actually more like orange. They have great flavor too. Then there is the chocolate. Every grocery store, convenient store, and department store has at least 2 isles dedicated to chocolate. That is not even including other candy!
There are so many little things too. Things that you notice right away when you get here. Like how the doors open opposite here. When you expect them to be push, they are pull and vise versa. The public transportation here is incredible! I have yet to see a pick-up truck. There are delivery trucks, but civilians only drive small cars (usually standards). Sunday is the day for walking, running, and biking. Everyday you will see people doing those things, but on Sundays everyone is out with their families, lovers, spouses, siblings, or alone to enjoy the air since shopping is out of the question because everything is closed on Sunday.
Most dogs are not on leashes here. Dogs are also allowed in most stores and on the bus. No questions asked.
The first floor here is the second floor in the U.S. The flusher thing on the toilets are large buttons and not the thin metal lever. They are sometimes in the wall.
I could go on about all the little stuff, but truthfully it is a different country and therefore everything is different. I just find it very interesting and thought maybe someone else would too.

Dienstag, 8. März 2011


One of the first things that my sister told me when I started running is that "you will see more of world". I didn't think of it that much until I started seriously running. I ran all over the place. When I started college running was something I did to relieve stress. It also took me all over the town and into places I never would have seen had I not been running. The same goes for walking and you can walk in more places. I found streets and paths and landmarks that no one else knew about (or at least I pretended they were only mine).
I have started the same thing here in Germany. I am running and walking in every direction and finding some wonderful sights. Today I walked for an hour and a half in a direction I had never been before. I walked out of the park and onto a different path. I hiked up a hill and found myself looking out at a flat expanse of field (most likely used for growing large quantities of vegetables). A dirt path lay to my left. I took it. I didn't think about where it went, I just took it. I walked through fields high up above the city. The sun was low in the sky and it warmed my entire body, unshaded by trees. I waved at drivers from a bridge over the Autobahn (something I love to do at home). I walked through more fields and saw views that took my breath away. Small villages dotted the hills with fields in between. I walked up an old dirt road that passed directly next to a cute farm house. It was liberating. It is liberating to know that no matter how things are here at home I can always walk somewhere else for a little bit.
I know this is a short post. I just don't have anything thing else to write about right now except how much I love walking and running. Not only are the views incredible, you get to see lots of other healthy people doing the same stuff and that is inspiring in itself.

Freitag, 4. März 2011

A True But Painful Site

I was told by some friends that I needed to go to the mall. Ok. The mall in Regensburg is pretty similar to malls in the U.S. You get an image of the bright lights, smells of fried food, mannequins in every window wearing a smattering of the latest trends, people shopping, sipping coffee, talking on cell phones, etc. You get the picture. Anyway, I wasn't told to go to the mall to see all of the above. Instead I was told to go and see the photography exhibit that was on display there. It was showing photography from all over the world and from every aspect of life. That included the horrible stuff too. As I walked through the mall I wondered where on earth they would display such an exhibit, when all of the sudden there it was. In front of me stood large pictures on those plastic board things right in the center of the mall. The first few were sports related: some of the olympics for the mature (that is being polite, two competitors were over 100 years old!), some of Lance Armstrong, some of people in the Iron Man in Hawaii, etc. The next pictures were of real life in Bavaria (very pleasant). Then the surprise. Images of present day war and turmoil all over the world. There were pictures of the drug wars in Mexico, pictures of Egypt, pictures of Africa, pictures of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars... This list goes on. The images were not merely of men standing solemnly with machine guns or soldiers rescuing a child from a demolished building (all there, but not as astonishing), but there were also images of death, suffering, and the worst pain. One was a series of images of a man being stoned to death for adultery. First the throwing of the stones, his bloodied body on the ground, more stone throwing, men pulling his body from the ground, his face a bloody pulp, his body limp with death. I stared, as though I was watching a movie, only I was trying to register that it was real. It is very real. Another picture was of the uncovered head of an 8 year old girl in a pile of rubble. Her eyes are closed, her face bloated and raw, her hair a frazzled mess, her lips parted. These pictures were so hard to look at and yet I couldn't leave. I couldn't cry, I couldn't talk, I could only look.
The last image I want to talk about is one of the Afghanistan war. It is of a young American soldier who was just shot and killed on the edge of a river being picked up by his comrades. It is slightly blurred as though in motion. The young mans face is scared, his body doesn't look right. In the caption below it told of the man's father who at first did not want the image to be displayed. He was soon persuaded upon hearing that most Americans would never see that image or any other of the reality in the Middle East.
Why is that? Why was I so shocked to see those images, as though I had never thought they existed? Probably none of you reading this will ever see those pictures. It is infuriating. Here in Germany they were posted in the middle of a MALL! A MALL! Something is not right. We are not being protected by not seeing these images, we are only going deeper and deeper within our own lives and the reality of the world is slipping by us in nice short clean pictures, nothing too sad, but sad enough to make us think we have seen the worst. What is wrong with this picture? You tell me.