July 11, 2011

Things We Won't Miss about Munich

Of course, we had to give the opposite viewpoint of the previous post! No place is perfect. Munich is no exception, although we have enjoyed living here for the last two years. Since we knew we'd only be here a short time, we focused on the good parts of the city and shrug off the bad or the frustrating. That doesn't mean we didn't see them. Here are a few short examples of parts that we won't miss.

German food is not vegetarian-friendly.
We managed to always find something to eat, but more importantly, we learned to be prepared so we wouldn't get caught without anything to eat.

The people could be difficult. We found the people could be pretty strict about the rules, and cold and reserved towards newcomers. People in Munich were fairly conservative and tended towards conforming rather than thinking outside the box. Compromise is difficult for Germans and they don't like to apologize or say that they're wrong.

I think most people think of Germans as described above so this one probably doesn't surprise anyone. We did not make a lot of German friends here, but my co-workers or our neighbors were always helpful in explaining bits of the culture we didn't understand. We also met Germans who broke the rules, didn't conform and were generally very relaxed about things.

Pushy old ladies in the grocery store cashier lines and leaving the metro.
For some reason before you can press the button to open the door in the metro, everyone starts crowding around and forcing everyone as close as possible to the yet-unopened exit. Once the door is open, they're often really impatient about getting off the train uber-quickly, too. It's the same sort of thing in line at the grocery store. The old ladies especially like to get their shopping carts to nudge your butt. I don't know what they think they accomplish by all that, but it's just one thing that I eventually got used to.

Not being able to express myself or understand what others are saying around me.
We got used to this one when traveling, but thankfully, most Germans know English well enough that it wasn't a big problem in our daily lives.

Apartment renting or leaving is frustrating.
In Munich, real estate agents have a huge cut in the apartment rental market. Normally, one has to pay 3.4 months' rent to the real estate agent for helping them find a place and then the 2-3 months for deposit to the landlord. I'm glad it didn't work that way for us.

Also, when you leave, all the light fixtures and curtains must be out; usually the apartment has to be painted white; sometimes the floor has to be sanded or refinished if there are dents; and the place has to be spotless. We've heard of landlords and tenants fighting over what would be considered small issues on the last day. Thankfully, we had it easier and nicer when we left.

Radio license thievery
Basically, you have to pay for German radio and television programming, even if you don't watch German channels. There are actually people who will come to your house or apartment, and force you to pay this tax (in our case, 6 euros per month). Even if you don't own a TV, but just have a laptop, you have to pay the tax! It's best to avoid this topic with Greg since he was the one ambushed by the guy to pay the tax for our two years in Munich.   

Smoking everywhere.
Germans smoke so much! It's always hard for our American visitors to believe. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe because I think they're healthy in so many other ways - biking to work, and hiking and skiing regularly.

A lot of this stuff seems silly, but it can add up. We've both known people who've let their daily frustrations with a place really get to them. For the most part, we enjoyed our experience in Munich and know that we'll have little (or big) frustrations show up in whatever city we live in.

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