I don’t know if I’ll ever be a true German. Don’t get me wrong, now – I am well on way to integrating, but there are several things that restrict my full conversion.
As for products and shopping, I am golden. All of my bath products and kitchen supplies and food (minus the handful of spices that I love that I brought from the U.S.) have German labels and instructions. I am learning the metric system, especially volume, when I use my mL measuring cup. I am now aware of my German shoe and pants/skirt sizes (which seems like too large of a number since I am use to the single-digit numbers from the U.S.). I have also traveled around on my own, navigating transportation, site-seeing, eating out, etc. to various places inside Stuttgart and other cities. So what’s holding me back? Mein Kissen/my pillow. The standard bed pillow size is 80cm x 80cm. That is 992 sq. inches of pillow surface. This is one crazy awkwardly large size. I probably use 10% of the floppy thing. Why would one make this standard?
Okay, obviously that’s not a real reason.
Living a separate, private life is a very German cultural custom placed in high importance. I too enjoy it, but I must resist. I know me. I know how I respond, react, or initiate. At first arrival to my flat and the town which I call home and upon learning about the rules pertaining to the student flat, I wanted to move out. (I use “Student flat” as opposed to the U.S. term of dormitory because it’s more like a shared apartment keeping in true German style of high privacy as a necessity.) I have lived in an apartment by myself for the majority of time since the 2nd year of college. Even growing up, I had my own room. I like having my own space that I can put holes in walls and paint and make my own. I like being separate and away. And because I know me and what I prefer, I also know this is not the best solution.
If I moved, I would most definitely move out of this retirement suburban community of Mӧhringen and into Stuttgart proper. I like city life and the noise and the people watching opportunities. This would mean moving quite a ways from nearly all of my fellow classmates/new friends. If this were so, I would almost entirely shut myself off from social interactions and sink into a depression if left up to my own devices. So I have decided to work against my nature and hang around here. Advantage: actual life with multi-national friends and my sanity. Disadvantage: little to do in Mӧhringen, have to decorate using sticky-backed hooks instead of nails, and little reliance on German because English is the common language. The extremely high commission to a 3rd party renter agency paid on behalf of the renter (as opposed to the free service provided in the States) also aided in my decision to stay put … for now.
There's also this thing in Germany called Winter, which I've been told lasts 4-5 months. But I think this is just a hoax.