It has been over 3 years since I moved to Germany, the longest time I have lived in a country after my own. 3 years of constant learning, often out of my comfort zone, with struggles and merits, happy and sad days, but overall, the period I changed the most.
A few months ago I read an article about a guy who mentioned a few things he changed after he moved to Germany. After that, I caught myself thinking about the things and habits I have changed. Could I still notice these changes or am I just too used to my new me that I can’t even see them anymore? Well, some of them were pretty clear to me, others I had to think harder, as they are such a big part of my daily life that I didn’t even notice that they are there everyday.
One of the first things I changed was becoming a more gentle person. The vast majority of the people living here are very kind. They wait for you to get out of the metro before they get in, same with the elevator. They say good morning even if they don’t know you, if something falls on the floor they help you picking it up, if you are moving they offer to help you out and they often ask if you are ok. I really believe that gentleness leads to more gentleness, and I see this here. It is not that I wasn’t a generous person before, but I have improved a whole lot more, and it makes me feel a better person.
In Germany people greet each other with a handshake when they first meet, and only after you become more intimate, then a kiss on the cheek or a hug is fine. I used to greet people with kisses on their cheeks or with hugs, even if we were just introduced. Nowadays, I wait to see what the other person is going to do before I take the next step, even if I am in my home country!
In Brazil, the client almost never has the right, even though under law it is just the opposite. So, going back to a store to change a product or calling a company to complain about a defected product can turn into a headache, which often gives you the feeling that you are the one to blame instead of them.
Here in Germany the client really has the right, it took me a while to feel ok and claim my rights, at first I would just say “just leave it, it’s easier”. Today, I do claim my rights and it works, I get an apology and often even get compensated, this has probably everything to do with the German efficiency!
I lived almost my entire life in a place where winter does not exist, where 30C is the average temperature, so I always missed the cold, dressing for winter, playing with the snow. After I moved to Germany, I appreciate the sun, the warmth, the daylight when we have it, and especially: I miss the beach!
I used to think that ordering online is something that takes ages, that I don’t get to see the real product when I want to and that if it doesn’t work I have to return it and it is all a big trouble. After living in Germany for a while, I caught the bug and slowly started to order things online, and today I find it the most practical thing.
You know you lived in Germany long enough, when you look at a product’s package and unconsciously thinks to which garbage bin it has to go. Is this plastic? Is this metal? Is this bottle’s glass green or brown? Separating the garbage in Germany is something that really is a part of your daily life, as well as checking the bottles to see if they are returnable (you get money back for returning them…yay!).
The other day I wasn’t even in Germany when I caught myself looking at a plastic bottle of water and thinking: is this bottle returnable? Then I realized I wasn’t in Germany, and that things in that country work differently. I wonder how much I will still change in the next 10 years living here…
Meanwhile, I can already tell that most of these things have changed me for the better. For instance, I became a more healthy person, I don’t auto medicate myself as I tended to, and I try to avoid medicine as much as I can, or often prefer taking natural ones. I also adhered to the “BIO German” lifestyle, of buying organic, healthier and fair-traded products, as well as started eating more whole grain food, which all are very popular in the supermarkets.
Over the years, I noticed that I certainly became a more private person, even though I now have a travel blog and share many things with you. The old me used to tell too many details to everyone, and only recently I noticed how much I have changed in this matter. Have I become the private person like I always accuse the Germans of being?
The truth is, living in another country changes you in one way or another, even if you don’t notice it at first. We humans are adaptable to places, to circumstances, to the weather even, and in order to adapt, we do need to make some adjustments, we do change…
…and this is good.