B5The mental shift that all Asians have to make when in the land of punctuality and torturous order can be frustrating and amusing, making me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Culture Shock never fails to slap me in the face from the moment I set foot in the airport, realizing once again that I am undeniably back in Germany when

  • The passengers on the plane start pulling on sweaters and overcoats right before landing, ditching the flip-flops and sleeveless t-shirts.
  • Style and fashion are still very much the SOP for travelers, and don’t look like they came straight from the beach or rolled out of bed and into the plane in their pajamas like you see on Asian flights.
  • The number of Asian passengers drops significantly on the plane to a ratio of 1:50
  • You need a 1EUR coin for the luggage cart. Did anyone every stop to think of the people arriving with no EUR coins? I thank my stars for having luggage with wheels that can be stacked up!
  • All humans surrounding me are at least half a meter taller than me. The top of my head doesn’t even reach the shoulder of the shortest European in the room, and my nose is surrounded by armpits.
  • The pace of walking is three times faster than any normal, self-respecting Asian. No matter how fast I walk, everyone seems to be charging ahead of me with much longer strides.
  • The prices for a single cup of coffee or soft-drink will get me an entire meal in Bangkok.
  • Pretzels and croissants are in abundance whereas dimsum or siopao are impossible to find at the airport.
  • My nose starts running constantly, which means the temperatures have dropped below 15C and my allergy to the cold weather kicks in!
  • The Toyotas, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai have all been replaced by Daimlers, Audis and BMWs.
  • You search instinctively for the heater in the car or apartment instead of the air conditioning.
  • The cars come equipped with navigation and parking assistance, but more importantly, back and butt warmers!
  • You need to walk to your car (or basically walk anywhere) and not simply pick up the phone to call the driver to pick you up at any point your feet and energy choose to give up.
  • Everyone assumes I don’t speak any European language and look visibly shocked if I break out in dialect. The immigration officer at the non-EU counter has usually reserved his dirtiest and sternest look for me and is speechless when I speak German.
  • The motto “Ordnung muss sein” (there must be order) or something must be “ordnungsgemäß” (according to the rules) are the governing standards. Anything that is not explicitly allowed is Verboten (prohibited)!
  • Everything must be “beantragt” (applied for with the proper forms at the proper authorities) if you want something done.
  • What forms you hold and insurance you carry matters above all else instead of whom you know. Die Unterlage ist wichtig! (the documentation is important).
  • There are more beer choices of the menu than soft drinks!
  • The choice of bread becomes as complicated as choosing a sari in India because of the sheer variety.
  • Your meal will always include some sort of salad that you can’t cancel or prevent the waiter from bringing – inevitably compelling you to feel like a human rabbit of sorts.

… my feet are frozen, my nose is running and I can’t seem to find the sun anywhere or the next fresh coconut juice station… wait! Oh yes, I’m in Germany!

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