I have now been in Magdeburg almost two solid weeks, and I am beginning to move from "survival" mode (what do I need to do right now in order to be fed, clothed, housed...) to "settled" mode. We FINALLY signed the contract for our very own apartment - even though the property manager was rude and seamed to think that Ilya was going to single handedly tear everything apart. We've found grocery stores that carry the foods we need, and we know how to get pretty much anywhere via public transportation. Not bad for two weeks.
Here are some sweeping generalities I've noticed about Germans (please note: the following does not apply to every German, it just seams to me to be a general trend).
1) Germans have a much tighter "personal bubble" than Americans. People will walk right up behind you, and you can either ignore them or get out of the way. Its kinda like tailgating for walkers. It makes grocery shopping a bit challenging as no one moves out of the way and people push right up against you. Just imagine grocery shopping as an extreme sport and you have a pretty good idea of what its like.
2) Outwardly, Germans don't appear to be friendly. They don't smile at you on the street when you make eye contact. They don't apologize for bumping into you when they pass you on the street. They make no effort to keep their smoke out of the faces of young children. However, as soon as you start to interact with them, you discover that they are actually far more friendly than most Americans. They patiently wait as I struggle to order something in German. They are fair and straight-forward. I don't know how to better describe them, except to say that I have liked almost every German that I have met (with the exception of a certain property manager who hates children).
3) There is dog poop EVERYWHERE - like little smelly landmines littering the sidewalks
4) While the government seams to be obsessive about recycling (different containers for just about every type of material), the people tend to toss things in which ever bin they feel like, and by "bin", I really mean "sidewalk." I have found so many things laying on the side of the road - a toaster oven, a vacuum, a fan, two or three mattresses, a couch, a rug...
5) Their public transportation system is amazing - I want to bring it back with me to America.
It is starting to warm up, which I am going to assume means that this awful "freeze" was simply a fluke and spring is on its way. I love that it is sunny more than it is cloudy.