When normality is way too different than yours

Published by Alice, 17 years on 2018-05-06
Everyone has a routine. Even the most adventurous and unpredictable people, when they come back from an amazing journey or an incredible experience, have those little things that are repeated every day. Our routine establishes our normality.

For example, I always sing when I'm in the shower, or I always dance while I cook. There are plenty of other stupid things that everyone does at home, sometimes without even noticing it. Another kind of normality, or everyday life, can be identified with your country. For Norwegian people is absolutely normal eating dinner at six o'clock, but the same thing results unthinkable for Spanish people, who usually have dinner at ten. So what happens when your normality gets altered?

I'm Italian but I'm currently living in Germany in a host family. It took me one hour and a half to get here, I'm in Europe, every German has been at least once in Italy... There hasn't been a proper cultural shock, but still, I could do an infinite list of things that are completely different from my 'national everyday life' (and that's exactly what I'm gonna do).

  • THE MEALS: as an Italian, the meals are a pretty important part of our routine. We usually have specific times to eat, and in most of the cases all the family sits together. I've lived all my eighteen years of life like this and I have to admit that the first weeks in Germany were a little bit tough. Before coming here I didn't understand why the restaurants in Germany were always full, also at the weirdest times. Now I understand. THEY DON'T HAVE TIMES FOR MEALS. To make an example, they eat at eleven a.m., then at four and again at nine p.m. but every day is always different and it took me a lot to get used to it.
  • ANIMAL LIFE: it could sound the stupidest thing ever but one of the things that surprised me the most was that here is completely normal if a squirrel lives in your garden. I was at a barbecue and all of a sudden a red cute squirrel happened to be on the tree above our table... nobody seemed as impressed as I was.
  • BIKES: this probably sounds a little bit weird but I swear that I almost died on one of the 'normal' German bicycles. In Italy everyone usually has an old bike, like the one that the old grannies use. They're comfortable, adorable, quiet. Well, forget all that. Here the bikes are MONSTERS. Every single German has a professional mountain bike, with big, powerful wheels that make noise everytime they come in contact with the asphalt. In addition to that, they normally slow down just if you pedal backwards. Some bikes don't even have actual brakes.
  • SAYING YES/NO: I've spent three months saying it wrong. You could be wondering: how can you say 'yes' or 'no' wrong? Well, apparently it is possible. When someone asks you a question that implies a yes/no answer, and you don't want to speak, everyone (or at least everyone that I know) makes the sound 'mhmm' to reply. To make the other person understand if that was a yes or a no, you change the intonation. I thought that this was something universal but NO, THIS WAS NOT THE CASE. I've just discovered that the way sometimes i say 'mhmm' with the intonation of a yes, here means no. So apparently I've just spent three months of my exchange saying no to people.
germany
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normality