Woche Siebenundzwanzig

Week 27 of my year in Germany, over halfway along!

Another week in Germany! I rambled about travel in my Amsterdam post, so this is more every day stuff. PS - the header pic is a restaurant in Bad Durkheim, housed in a giant wine barrel. Here are the things going on in Deutschland this week:

- Commute time. This might be more of a company culture thing, but the commute time at my German office are crazy, especially compared to my States counterpart. Back home, I would say the average commute for my office is half an hour, with standard range being between 10 and forty-five minutes. That would include those who live downtown, in the suburb next door, or the next biggish city/town. Here, forty-five minutes would be lucky. In fact, last year, my boarding house was away from downtown, and it took me forty minutes to get to work (I took the tram, it was honestly fine - reread all of GoT on the tram!) and I was told multiple times that this wasn't bad at all. And I found out how true the statement was! In the group of fifteen engineers I sit with, over half live over an hour away. One woman's commute is an hour and a half, another's is two hours. Several of the people I work with stay at a hotel half the time or work from home. It's just a totally different paradigm from the company in the states.

- Among people. This is more of an urban thing than necessarily a European thing. But, a visiting friend pointed this out to me: when you're out in a crowded city, you're among people but not necessarily with people. And it's true! Back in the suburbs, where I lived in the States, everything was very isolated unless you were actually meeting up with. I would go entire weekends without talking to anyone else - get in my car and go to Target, get in my car and go home, get in my car and go to the movies. I was a mini-world within my Prius, carefully existing among other mini-worlds on the road without any real interactions. This is not possible out and about on the streets. There are people everywhere and you will pick up their conversation, provide information, get asked for directions. It's nice, for lack of a better world. You can still enjoy a lunch alone or a walk to the park to take in the sound, but you're not alone. There's a community there.

- Canadians. Working at a global company, both here in Europe and in the States, I have gotten the chance to work with a variety of people from literally all over the world. Of the three project teams I'm working with, every continent but Antarctica is represented and nearly every member of the EU (plus a Briton, whatever he is now). But this past week, I met my first Canadian! After weeks of speaking on the phone, he joined us in Germany for a workshop. And he met every Canadian stereotype - nice, easygoing, apologetic. An accent that comes out in certain phrases. He even brought maple syrup wine (it was thick and sweet and burned all the way down).

- For the past month, I've started picking up the International New York Times on Saturday or Sunday and spending part of my weekend reading it. And I have to say, I recommend! It's harder to be as isolationist as we can be in America when you're in Germany, the middle of Europe. Everyone has an opinion on what's going on in Libya or Egypt. Russia is next door and Britain just fucked up everyone's retirement plans. American politics and news are absolutely on the radar, but it's part of a more global concern in general. So the INYT has been helpful so I know what the hell is going on, what's the stuff that will be of topic around the office. What the guy at the ticket counter is going to ask me about, what my lunch friends are going to be worried about.