fly the seven seas

Observations of a Sydney girl rocking Germany


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Making sweeping statements.

Over the past 22 months I have had the pleasure to immerse myself in many aspects of German life – daily life, culture, behaviours, trends, traditions, work habits, events –  to be able to formulate some observations and generalisations*.

Here is what I have so far:

  1. Germans like to greet – with many variations of the basic form of hello.
  2. Germans have guidelines for communicating with others on a formal basis (Sie – siezen) or an informal basis (Du – duzen) and are intrigued when the guidelines are not followed, ‘Did you notice, he offered me the Du!’
  3. Germans are punctual and appreciate punctuality.
  4. On that note, lunch time is 12pm. Sharp.
  5. Coffee and cake hour runs between 3pm and 5pm. Fighting with pensioners to secure a table in a cafe during this time is highly likely. (I am surpised at how many people regularly enjoy a slice of cake or sweet treat).
  6. Despite the obesity epidemic (most probably fuelled by the cake eating) – the Germany I see is active, with walkers and runners seen in streets, parks, around lakes, at all times of the day and throughout the year.
  7. Many of said walkers, as well as hikers, are often seen with two ski-pole-like walking sticks in their hands. The Nordic Walking trend is big among the German folk.
  8. Germans like to wear activity-specific clothing. Yes, we understand that one must wear appropriate clothing when skiing for example, but is it really necessary to wear the summer equivalent of ski pants for your hiking/trail-walking/stick-walking/wandern activities? Outfit ‘sets’ made in light weight ‘breathable’  fabrics and matching sweat-bands are often seen. Continue reading
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Opening my eyes

Some times things get a little too much – I begin to dwell on things and often forget to breath. I am having one of those weeks.

Without getting into too much detail, this week has involved a lot of personal reflection – career-wise. There may have been a mini-meltdown, a heavy migraine and the phrase ‘it’s too much’ replaying over and over in my head.

As a much welcomed relief, I have found peace in appreciating the beauty all around me.

Autumn, herbst – my favourite season – has slowly revealed its beauty with;

crisp mornings,

golden, afternoon light,

blankets of fallen leaves on footpaths,

multi-patterned pumpkins stacked in open fields, and

skylines of change –  green, yellow, orange, red and brown.

Just walking through this natural beauty brings wonders to the soul. In my neighbourhood houses have begun preparing for the winter – some with piles of firewood stacked in yards, some having already warmed their fireplaces.

Drinking my morning coffee from the balcony I smiled as I saw the squirrels return – chasing each other along the tree branches, their golden coats often camouflaged amongst the leaves as they gather the tree’s delights.

It is the season of foraging and storing, wearing scarves, roasting chestnuts, holding onto light and appreciating the gradual slow-down of life. Continue reading


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Questionning efficiency

It is definitely not a secret that Germany and efficiency go hand in hand.

Stemming from the ideology of rationalisation, the notion of efficiency is often related to German technology, design and manufacturing but is also extended to the character of the German native.

Partnered with notions such as reliability, punctuality and bureaucracy, efficiency is more than just a ‘notion’ however – efficiency is present all around…

For example:

When a meeting is set for 10am, one can be assured that all participants are ready for the meeting to begin at 10am. Knowing that the meeting starts on time means things are moving along in order to move onto the next tasks. Making such a meeting with our Greek fellows, however, if you’re lucky the participants would start rolling in 30 minutes after the agreed time.

A (native) German teacher I had for the last language course I took turned up to class sick two days in a row and held the class without a voice, for the reason that a substitute teacher was not available. While the class wasn’t really that productive, she knew that if a paid class was cancelled, the group would be behind the course schedule and thus not have extra days to prepare for the final exam. Laryngitis obviously does not trump efficiency. For warrant of any embarrassment, I will not comment on the number of classes throughout my school and university education that were left without teachers.. Continue reading


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Reunited

I am lucky enough to have been in Germany’s capital, Berlin for the second year in a row to celebrate the Tag der Deutschen Einheit – the day of German Unity.

Preceded by the poignant “fall” of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the Tag der Deutschen Einheit commemorates the reunification of Germany. On the 3rd of October 1990 the communist government of East Germany (German Democratic Republic) was dissolved and the states of Germany moved forward in political unity towards the democratic government of West Germany.

23 years later and here I am – able to experience the diversity of Berlin and very grateful for the freedom I have to learn and explore Berlin’s (and Germany’s) rich history.

In my opinion, Berlin is a beautiful city. It is rich in history, culture, people and landmarks. It is lively, gutsy and both elegant and rough at the same time. But Berlin can be overwhelming at times, as reminders of the past confront you on every street corner.  With such a vibrant present, I can only imagine the future leading to something even more amazing. Continue reading