Life as a European volunteer in Stuttgart, Germany
Since I came to Stuttgart, I have noticed a few things which are different from what I’m used to, either better or worse. This is my personal experience, and so far (after 2 months) this is what I have noticed and experienced:
Germans love sparkling water, and there is bigger variety of bottled sparkling than still water in stores. Even here in Jugendwerk, we have normal or medium frizzy bottles. If I want still water, I’m simply taking from the tap.
There is a good recycling system here. Lots of things are sold in glass containers (water, spices, soft drinks). There is for example a separate bin for plastic (gelbersach)where you can throw your packages or yughurt cups even though they are dirty, and there is one separate bin also for bio waste. You better empty this one daily, otherwise it would turn a bit unpleasant… Here you get relatively much money back (Pfand) if you return your plastic and glass bottles to the shops. But don’t you dare throwing your glass waste to the bin on Sundays!
I don’t know if its a common thing but I’ve seen many doors equipped with door closers and sometimes are so hard to open them! After getting used to opening doors with my whole body force, sometimes I’m surprized when I find one without the door closer.
Here, insted of clapping hands, people are knocking on the tables (if one happens to be at hand). Apparently, this tradition comes from a long time, when the audience was knocking after the lecture in universities. But at that time it meant dissatisfaction.
Germany has a huge variety of bread, which I appreciate very much! Whenever I’m going to a seminar or just to the shop, I can choose from so many different bread, with sesame seed, poppy seed or sunflower seed on top, white or brown, matte or shiny, it’s hard to choose. But for sure they are yummy! And if we are talking about variety, I also have to mention how many types of Haribo are there in the stores, that is impressive. Hard decision makers, you are in trouble!
I’m still a bit confused sometimes with this one, how deep my relationship should be for hugging. In Hungary, we greet friends usually with 2 kisses, or friend’s friends with handshake. Here, I experienced hugs with seeing someone the first time as well. But actually, you can never know.
It’s simple: there is no litter, no stains from uncertain origin on the corners, the grass is green, the flowers are blooming, the houses are nice and clean, no matter where I go. This also applies (especially) to the villages.
A really positive experience was for me to see the people, but the youth especially are very polite and nice to one another. When its about cleaning up after an event, everyone is taking part in making order and leave the room as it was, as quick as possible. If you ask for directions on the street, or an acquaintance for help, they are very nice about it. Or they even offer their help without asking it. Of course you can meet a grumpy cashier once in a while, but you can get the picture. 🙂
Volunteering is popular in Germany, especially among the youth. While unfortunately in Hungary EVS is not that well-known, the youngsters here are aware of how awesome it is and I’ve met lots of guys who already had his or her EVS abroad and shared their experiences with me, or could give some advices. Also, we have quite a few people coming with us when they are free, to play with the refugee kids for an afternoon weekly, and there are lots of other opportunities for doing something voluntarily. And that is great!
Being a vegetarian or a vegan is quite common here. Since I am in Stuttgart, I also eat less meat and more vegetables. However, most of the veggies and fruits I find in stores are a bit tasteless to me.
The bells are ringing every hour, but sometimes it feels like its for too long. The first is at 7 in the morning and it keeps on reminding us every hour (sometimes at other random times too, don’t try to understand why) of it’s existence. Even at midnight. (However I noticed it’s a bit more silent than during the day). But when you are passing by a church you have to pause because you would have to shout if you wanted your friend next to you, to hear you. One day we happened to do some activities next to a church and it was important to stand in different places and not to move, but we also wanted to discuss the result of the game we were playing. And at one point the bell started singing, and it kept on going for 3 whole minutes! It seemed like forever.
This is not totally new for me, because there was a relatively short period of time in Hungary also, when shops were closed on Sundays. But not long ago, thankfully, they are opened again every day. And then I moved to Germany… 🙂