|The culture shock lessens each time as I move from Japan to Slovakia to Germany|
But when I got to Germany, to my new home of Heilbronn to be precise, I was a bit disappointed. A lot of it was just like being at home in Australia (or at least what I remembered of life in Australia after being away for a few years already). There was a similar standard of living. People did similar jobs. The Germans travelled as much if not more than Australians and knew similar things about the wider world. I could understand them all, more or less, unlike in Slovakia or Japan where the language was a significant (and in retrospect, interesting) barrier.
The list went on. Germany seemed boring in my first weeks there. The work was similar to what I'd done before. The rubbish collection system was relatively easy to decipher (a bit more complicated than at home, but logical, at least). I could get around. I even had a car, for the first time since Australia. Where was the challenge in this supposedly "new" life?
Yes, it took a while to dawn on me, but I was actually suffering from a lack of culture shock. The modern western German culture was not all that different from Australian culture and I was disappointed. Japan had been incredibly different, Slovakia had been different enough to keep life interesting, but here was Germany, modern, normal, boring.
|Autumn (or fall!) in the vineyards near Heilbronn|
But on a related note: I used to think that people who moved to another English-speaking country and then said they'd lived in a foreign country were kind of cheating. For example, lots of young Australians move to the United Kingdom for a year or two, taking advantage of the working holiday visa provisions, and consider they've lived abroad. They have, of course, but I felt like it was not a "real" overseas experience. But that's what Germany felt like to me, and then I learnt that moving countries, even to one where they speak the same language, is still a way to learn a lot about different people, different cultures and different ways of life. All of which is definitely a good thing.