I had visited the U.S. several times as a tourist, but living here permanently is a bit different than visiting. Here are my first impressions of America:
- Air conditioning is good, but it can be overdone: Pennsylvania can get very humid during the summer and I appreciate that the A/C takes out the humidity. Some restaurants and stores are so cold, however, that I am forced to wear a jacket. When I leave the establishment, the outside air envelopes me like a sauna.
- Baggers: I had already shopped at the commissary for years and was used to getting my groceries bagged. It puzzles me, though, when the bagger puts 20 pounds of groceries in one bag while placing nothing but a loaf of bread in the other. Still, I don’t want to complain too much because in Germany, no one bags your groceries. On my visits to the Old Country, I am always struggling to simultaneously put away my money while throwing my purchases back in the cart before they get mixed up with the groceries of the shopper behind me.
- Potholes: While they are becoming more common now, potholes were a rarity when I left Germany. In Pennsylvania, we seem to have five seasons: spring, road construction season/summer, fall, winter, and pothole season. If you see me swerving while driving it is not because I am intoxicated, I am just avoiding potholes. Unfortunately, there are so many that I am often unsuccessful.
- Time: When I worked for the military, we determined time on a 24-hour rhythm, just like German time is officially written. After finding a part-time job, I filled out my first time card with “1400 hours.” My supervisor stared at it and asked me, “Is that military time?”
- The Imperial System of Measurements: This particular subject throws me off so much that I wrote an entire blog post about it.
- Driving test: Driving tests in Germany are not only expensive (you have to attend driving school), but so tough that many students flunk the first test. So I dreaded the driving test more than anything and practiced parallel parking numerous times on residential roads. When the big day arrived, I was more than relieved when the instructor told me to drive around the shopping center and parallel park. “You’ve driven before, haven’t you?” he asked. “Yes, seventeen years,” I replied and received my license!
Image source: commons.wikimedia.org; author: 4028mdk09