A short while back, I posted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ post. Some folks used that as a chance to ask for advice in advance of their upcoming travels to the area, and I tried to answer what I could of those in regular e-mail. Some of the remaining questions are really interesting, so I’ve decided to do a series of “You asked, I answer” posts. Let’s get started!
Here’s a question from Rarasaur: Is there any object (not food related, that’s too easy) that can make you homesick?
I thought about this one for a while, and my answer is no, not really. I put very little personal investment into things. Everything I own right now is either in a 5×10 storage unit in Florida, or in my 45 square meter apartment here, and neither one of those locations is anywhere near full. People can make me homesick. Flavors can make me homesick. Sometimes even smells or songs or the memory of what something feels like can make me homesick.
But an object? No. Just no.
Here’s another question from Rarasaur: Is there a habit or custom that you’ve picked up in Germany that you’d take home with you forever when you come back to the States?
There are a few, I think.
I suspect that my consumption of consumer goods and my handling of trash and waste will be forever altered by my time here.
I take my shoes off at the door of my apartment now. That’s not specifically a German custom, but I didn’t do it before I moved here and I’ll probably keep doing that.
I carry canvas bags to the grocery store with me now because you pay for the plastic bags you need at the grocery here. I’ll probably keep doing the canvas bag thing when I’m back in the states. I also buy a lot less food here because I have to carry it all home with me on foot.
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.
Here’s yet another question from Rarasaur: Have you learned about any particularly interesting German artist/cook/painter/writer/politician/whoever that Americans never really speak about, but all Germans know? If so, pass on the knowledge, por favor.
Before living in Germany, I didn’t know about Karl May, the author of the Winnetou novels. I didn’t know about “Dinner For One.” I didn’t know about German media folks who are household names here like Michael “Bully” Herbig or Stefan Raab.
Beyond that, I’ve mostly just learned a great deal more about names that are not completely unknown to me as I travel to the places that were part of their lives, because I research the hell out of everything I see and everything I write about. Living in Europe puts me in a fantastic position to learn about these names, because the signs and history are all around me. Johannes Kepler lived here in Regensburg. Napoleon was here for a time, after he was wounded in the Battle of Regensburg. Albrecht Dürer lived in nearby Nürnberg. I learned more about Falco when I went to Vienna, and somehow missed seeing his gravesite when I was walking around Vienna Zentralfriedhof. (And I learned more about that Mozart guy, too.)
Do you have anything you’d like to ask? The Ask Me Anything post is still open!