10 Things I Didn't Prepare for When Moving to Berlin

1. I didn't pack enough bags. In fact, I threw away bags before moving here in fear I would warp into a scarf-wearing European bag lady. If you are thinking about moving to Germany, do yourself a favor and pack every bag you come in contact with. Reason: if you go to the grocery store, food takeout, clothing store, bags cost extra... in fact they wont even bag your goods (including groceries) for you. They expect you do that in YOUR BAG. It's a recycling tactic that they take very seriously. So seriously I have an extra bag (or two) at the bottom of my bags.

2. The siesta or nap is a common practice cause they eat cake, chocolate and drink enough caffeine to keep a horse awake for about 3 days all before 10am. It should really be called the '3pm Crash and Burn' cause if you're not eating cake with a caffeine IV drip by 2:30pm to prepare for round two, you're not doing Europe right. 

3. On the topic of breakfast, calories apparently don't count here before 11am. I ate cheesecake for breakfast this morning. Then topped that off with some Polish chocolates. Then turned down the sausage rolls someone else brought in. Europeans give zero fucks about when they eat good food and sweets. So take a back seat Wheaties, this is a job for buttered sugar, carbs and coco. 

4. It takes a while to get over seeing people casually drink in public. Beer is the equivalent of having a diet coke on your way home. In fact, it's so common food joints, connivence stores, supermarkets have bottle openers at the cash register incase you need a cold one right there in line.

5. Alcohol isn't a big deal, but drugs are. Germans have the idea that if you're stupid enough to do it then you should be responsible for any and all consequences that come with that choice - even if that consequence is harmful to your being. It's a very liberal and fresh way of thinking (for this American) but that also leads to seeing a lot of drugs when you're out at a club. Many clubs will put stickers over the camera of your phone so you can't record people doing drugs (Which will get the establishment in trouble), but they expect you to not be a complete fool when doing them. The police ain't got time for that, neither does your bartender.

6. Take a shower AFTER the club. Back on the 'if you're stupid enough to do it' mentality, everyone smokes. If you make it out to the club, expect to be a walking ashtray when you leave.

7.  Germans (Europeans) love their superstitions. I made the mistake of wishing a girl in my office Happy Birthday two days before her birthday...which was a sin...apparently. Wishing someone HBD early brings them bad luck, just like toasting with water. Germans know how to have a good time, as long as you knock on the table when greeting your friends at the bar instead of wave.

8. Germans love their rules. Don't cross the street without a green light. Throw away your trash in the appropriate recycle bin. Buy a tram ticket, even if there is no one to check if you did or didn't. If there's a rule, follow it. And don't be surprised if your surrounding Germans give you mad side-eye if you cross an empty street without a green light. 

9. Scheiße! The first thing you'll learn in German if you move here are the curse words. Germans are a very open people - not prudes. Curse words, sex, and vulgarity are all in how you approach them. For example, there is a huge sign for a sex shop by the tram in my family-friendly neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg that reads "I love Big Cock"... just chillin... next to a park and grocery store... cause NBD. 

10. Germans are just as scared of you as you are of them. Most of them speak poor English, but want to learn (and most learned by watching US film/TV - expect to hear a lot of movie quotes, or if you're from Dallas like me "Who shot JR!?"). When they hear your crap American accent, they immediately try to speak English with you to practice. In fact, my banker actually asked me if his English was ok while setting up my account. Then giggled and blushed like a little girl when I said it was good.