Some Differences..

PHOTO:  Marco enjoying a walk in downtown Berlin with his Father.

We are still waiting to get internet in our home...and cell phones...and quite a few other things.  We're about 5 or 6 weeks into our move to Germany and there's still a long way to go before our home is truly settled.  In fact, I don't think everything will be in place for another couple of months.  We had our first visitor the very morning after we spent our first night in our new home.  Our next visitors are scheduled to come in about 2 or 3 weeks or so---so the race is on to get things furnished and prepared for guests.

This is quite different than Hong Kong where within 3 days, you can pretty much have your home functioning and fully operational.  Even more than the United States, Hong Kong demands that things be done very quickly and efficiently.  Of course Germany is also known for its efficiency and organization--compared to the rest of Europe---but Hong Kong is in a league of its own.

There are lots of other differences and similarities between the cultures.  Both German and Chinese cultures like following the rules, like things to be well-organized, and expect a pretty high level of conformity.  Neither culture is known for its spontaneity or fun-loving demeanor.  They are usually considered pretty "Serious" people compared to Italians, or Middle Easterners or most Latin Americans.  It is the South Americans of European descent (Chileans, Uruguayans, Argentinians) that often don't have the same kind of Latin demeanor of the Brazilians, Columbians and "warmer" spanish cultures.

But there are lots of differences between Chinese culture and German culture as well (obviously), and plenty of differences between Germany and Hong Kong.

The most obvious one is the space.  Most Germans live in pretty rural areas with plenty of nature.  Berlin, which is one of the greenest and most environmentally-conscious cities in the whole world (filled with parks and gardens and land that is kept away from developers) is considered urban and non-green by most Germans.  Yet unlike HK, even the cities here have truly functional nature areas accessible to everyone.

And of course the speed of life here is so much slower.  People ride their bikes everywhere---and a trip to buy food may entail stopping off at a few quaint looking shops in the town square where you get your meats, breads, and pastries at different locations.  In HK, everything is done as fast as possible.  In fact, we are still in the habit of sprinting onto trains as if we are running "the Amazing Race."  That's HK style.

Marco is greatly enjoying all of the green space and parks.  I think he also really likes the silence of the neighborhoods.  No jack-hammers here----just the sounds of trees and birds.  I think he feels very relaxed.

The other day we were in a train station in Berlin and it was QUIETER than the inside of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  It was full, but extremely quiet.  Silence is valued here.  In Hong Kong noise abounds because "loud is happy."  I just could not believe how incredibly quiet that train station was.

In fact, Americans can stick out like a sore thumb here.  Americans (like the Cantonese but not quite to the same degree) are a pretty loud people and are used to talking at a high volume.  Sometimes on the trains, you can hear Americans speaking way louder than everyone else and people look around and think to themselves:  "Man, those Americans are loud."

A big difference that is killing me is that Coke here is made with sugar (like it used be in the USA before they switched to corn syrup or whatever that is they use that's poisonous and totally bad for you).  I weaned myself off of Coke this Spring.  But I haven't found any drinks I really like in Germany.  So, I went back to Coke.  It's so sweet so now I'm going to have to get the coke monkey off my back again.

Well this whole diary entry was just to say that we are still waiting for our internet to get hooked up.  So we will try to continue posting as often as we can.  But it's not as easy to be online as it used to be. They told us it would take 3 days to get our internet or something---but I think here--it might mean 3 or 4 weeks or something like that.

But what I've noticed is not how dependent We have become on the internet---but how dependent EVERYTHING has become on the internet.  It's the way businesses and people and banks and everything else prefers to operate.  So even if you like life without the internet---and sometimes I do----nobody else does including the companies and service providers you have to deal with.  So life in this modern world is truly becoming dependent on access to the web to a ridiculous degree.  If the net ever went down or got attacked--a lot of us would be in trouble.  Everyone except the Masai---who, of course, would probably not be the exception because they would be made that they can't find out the latest cattle prices on their cell phone.  No joke.

Well, time to check my favorite websites while I have limited internet access :)