travel tales – culture shock – inspiration

Random things I am still not used to: about refills, plastic cups and too many choices

Yesterday I met a German friend; we ordered iced tea in a little cafe and sat outside in the sun chatting away. After a while she went to get another drink and came out shaking her head, eyes wide and a surprised smile on her face: Can you believe it? They even do refills on iced tea, I didn’t have to buy another one, I got it for free!

1. Refills

I guess free refills on soda aren’t such a good idea for a healthy diet, but the heck with it. Free refills are the best and whenever I get them I feel like I am getting a deal. Why would I ever get two complete meals with two drinks when I can save even more money by drinking my husband’s Dr. Pepper, which we get free refills on it? My German friend does the same, I guess we are just cheap Germans!

2. Plastic Cups and Plates

Breakfast served on plastic

I have never been a fanatical environmentalist, but every time I am served a meal on paper and plastic, I get angry. First and foremost, it is such a waste producing tons and tons of trash every day and second: Who wants to cut their meat with a plastic knife? It sucks! And the habit of paper and plastic isn’t just related to fast food. We recently stayed in a decent, nice hotel and they served their breakfast and dinner on plastic as well. Boo, America – your plus points on refills get taken away by your excessive use of plastic cutlery!

3. Too many choices

It’s been more than three years I have been living in this country, but questions like “What dressing would you like your salad with: balsamic vinaigrette, ranch, blue cheese, honey-mustard, italian, dijon-mustard, rasberry-something, southwest chipotle,…” The waiter goes on and on while I got lost when he mentioned the second option, so I usually have to go with the first or second choice. I am too embarrassed to ask him to repeat, especially as I probably only would catch maybe three options which wouldn’t make it much better anyways. Well, I caught up learning about skimmed milk, soy milk, 2% or sauces to go with my sandwich, but too often I still get desperate in front of the shelf with 25 choices of butters and spreads being confused by names like “Better than Butter” – it says butter, but it’s not!

These are just three random examples how different daily life is in Germany or Europe compared to the USA. When I came here I thought it would be a piece of cake for me to adapt and get used to it after travelling and working in Africa and South America where the culture was so much further away from my background. Sometimes it’s not and it also might have to do with the fact that in Africa you simply just don’t expect to get the same food – who thought it was so difficult to get good bread in America?