My wife and I met over the internet, on an AOL pen pal site.
She was looking to improve her English, and thought it would be a good idea to get an English speaking pen pal. I on the other hand am not quite sure why I was there, but I figured “what the hell” and put my information in. A couple days later she wrote to me from Germany. We corresponded back and forth, over the internet, snail mail, and ever increasing phone calls. I spent half a fortune on phone cards. Now days, she calls her family in Germany, for a few pennies a minute, but back then it was quite expensive. The first time I called her, it cost me $85.00. We did this for a couple years.
Later on, ignoring my brothers warning, that “she might be a notorious German ax murderer”, I visited her in Germany for a few weeks, later that year, she visited me here in Utah. We decided that getting married would be cheaper than paying the phone bills.
My first culture shock, or maybe reverse culture shock was at the Dresden airport. I got off the plane expecting everyone to be dressed like Heidi and her grandfather. You can imagine my amazement, when I looked around, everyone was dressed like me…. So much for stereotypes.
It can be interesting seeing every day things through a different pair of eyes…
The first time we went into a 7-11, she saw the hotdogs turning around on that carousel she laughed and laughed. The idea of those shriveled up dogs going round and round really struck her funny bone. To this day she still calls them dancing sausages. On the other hand, in Germany I seen a man dressed up like Roy Rogers, singing cowboy songs in German. I laughed till I had tears running down my cheeks. Her answer to that was what ???
Her brother asked me why I like to see castles so much, to him they are just a bunch of old buildings, full of iron people………..well yeah !!!
He can’t say much though, on a visit here, he took a picture of every rock and piece of sagebrush in the west desert. I guess it just depends on what you are used to.
I can still recall the confused look on her face, when at our first Thanksgiving dinner together, my mother asked her about the German custom of putting a pickle on the Christmas tree. She thought about it for a minute or so, then replied “why would anybody do something silly like that”
Sometimes you can step on each others toes, without knowing it. Not long after we were married I brought her a present. It was a pot decorated in southwest style, with a few different kinds of cactus in it, I thought it was cool, and was sure she would like it. She acted kind of distant for a few days, then finally asked me “why would you give me that”? It turns out that in Germany, giving someone a cactus is not a good thing, sort of like a black rose, I guess.
Germans are blunt, if they think you are full of shit, they will tell you. This took some getting used to, I’m from Utah, where we have turned beating around the bush into an art form.
Germans in general, my wife in particular get into their politics….
My wife really likes the Rachel Maddow show, she watches it almost every night. What I like is watching my wife watch the Rachel Maddow show, she rants and raves, and is sure those damn Republicans can hear her through the TV. It can be quite entertaining, although it does scare the dogs a bit.
If you really want to have some fun, get a room full of Germans, throw in a political bomb, get yourself some chips and a beer, kick back and watch…. It’s almost as good as watching the Super bowl.
Germans tend to look at American politics with wonder and amusement. They can’t imagine why people would fight so hard against affordable health care, and other social issues. They wonder why we seem bound and determined to move backward instead of forward.
I read this to my wife, she was laughing as she walked away….she still gets a kick out of the pickle thing.