Who hasn’t already read the recent post in our blog? Please do visit here. Planning The Adventure.
Following his adventure piece, we realized we haven’t written anything about our days in Stuttgart, the city where we met as students. We consider the decision to live/study not abroad as an adventure too, out of our comfort zones and habits, interacting with strangers and adapting to new rules too.
For some people, this decision is challenging while for the rest, it is outright crazy.
Stuttgart is a lovely and quiet yet modern city. It is the capital city of Baden Wuerttemberg which lies in the southwest of Germany. It seems like I am turning this piece into a geography one. LOL. Okay, if you are a big fan of Mercedes-Benz or Porsche, definitely you would know this city. We reckoned it is a beautiful city to live in after living for several months there.
But, (you know there is always a but, in every story) we are going to tell ya, 10 things that surprised us in our first days living in Stuttgart -to be honest, we didn’t know each other back then – so, I hope this writing will broaden your daydreaming to be a real plan in 3 years.
I will write the first 5 and the last 5 will be Benjamin’s.
- German words are damn long. I mean, like you can’t really breath in between when you read it. Their alphabets are, I would say, interesting and challenging. The longest words (perhaps!) my eyes caught in my insurance agreement are “Pflegehilfsmittelverzeichnisses” and “Versicherungsbedingungen”. Try to warm up your tongue before pronouncing it. I know, there are so many countries with unreadable alphabets that you can’t even imagine how to pronounce it. But grew up in a 26 International alphabets country, ä, ö, ü, definitely made my first days catchy especially all the voices you kept hearing all day long. It was all German. No English announcement on the train/bus when its delayed or no English translation when you go to the Supermarket. But don’t get me wrong, they were super lovely and helpful when I asked them in English because I was clueless about finding a cooking cream in German (while the phone signal was hiding somewhere). FYI, knowing German words is a must, being able to speak would do better. Everything is written in German. For anyone who wants to get rid of a boring life, consider moving here.
- Sunday is an off-day for shopping. What? Yes, you heard me. I learned that rule when I stepped out for the first time, but you know what, old habits take time to change. One silly moment I still remember till now (Which is making me smile now). The first week I lived in Stuttgart, I didn’t schedule the specific day to restock my basic needs and because Sunday was all I had (all days were occupied with German course and explore the city), I walked to the nearest Supermarket on Sunday morning and saw a big banner hanging on the upper part of the building:
“Montag-Samstag: 07.00 22.00 Uhr”
After I read that, I froze and took almost 5 mins to recall what I learned in German course (what day today was and what Sunday is in Deutsch) And suddenly it hit me, crap! They are closed on Sunday then What would I eat today? In the opposite, I used to shop whenever I liked, well we have 24 hours opened coffee shops, restaurants and convenience stores, even carwash back at home! Guess I have to adjust my habit again. Really, it’s was not easy changing your habits of shopping when you have to rush after school to the supermarkets before they close.
- I don’t know what to say, whether it was good or not, but if you’re sick, you have to make an appointment to see a doctor first. Whether you try not to fail sick or make sure you know when you will be sick (both of which are funny to me). Basically, we have to make an appointment for bank, doctor and thesis consultation too. LOL. No appointments, No luck. When you got your appointment, better not to be late. Not to be late means literally be sharp or punctual. If you read about Germans, many sources say they are well known as punctual people. Neither too early nor 10 mins after the time (for some people 10 mins after the time still consider as on time too). A 9:00 am appointment means 9:00 am. Don’t push your luck for this especially for public transportation. Once you missed the train/bus, the whole day is screwed.
- When German people said the food is spicy. Try not to believe 100%. Well, I grew up with spicy food and when I lived there (Stuttgart) I barely found any spicy at all. I was not fine. Believe me, they call it spicy though when it is not spicy. It is wrong for me. Even if someone claims that s/he loves spicy food, they will burn their mouth when eating my food. Thank God for Chinese/Thai restaurants, these were my saviours during those times. And in the end, I survived. The Funny thing was when I came back to my country, I did not realize that my spiciness level has been degraded, I cannot handle the real spicy here again. Karma hits me well. Hahaha.
- Have you experienced a seasonal sale where the items aren’t really discount? In my country yes, you will find it most of the time. From what I experienced in Germany, most of my friends who live in the border between France – Germany, Switzerland – Germany or Netherlands – Germany, would sacrifice some time to go to the Germany side only for buying things. If you see ‘Angebot or Reduction Preise’, it is totally a sign for ‘better grab now or regret later’. Hahaha. I loved their angebot.
After all, the hardest part of living in Stuttgart is leaving you (Stuttgart) because I got an opportunity to say proudly, it is where my home is.
p.s. Don’t believe when the weather forecast app says its sunny. You know what you see isn’t what you get. Most of the times, it is just a fake sun with cold air. Like a decoration, trying to manipulate us to lighten up our day with its sunlight while the fact was ‘my God!!! it’s f**kn cold’. Like in the photo below, it is our way to Mensa (canteen), it was 13 degree Celsius, bright and sunny, but trust me, it was really windy and f**kn cold.
Ok. So, it’s my turn now:). They say the only constant thing in life is change. Change can be hard sometimes but, in most cases, change is either a choice you consciously make, or life just deals it to you. Do you know what I mean? For me, this change came in the late summer of 2016. I kind of official moved to Stuttgart to follow a dream. Since Jude has already geographically described Stuttgart, I will try to do it ‘grammatically’.
But Stuttgart is amazing simply put. It has a sort of magic that slowly entraps you and makes you part of itself soon. In a nice way of course. I mean, from the moment you arrive, you feel it. you feel her. Its thumping heartbeats are its vast network of trains, its voices though still are carried in the wind and it feels all around you from green natural parks to all its clubs and pubs. :). And after some time, you become one with the city. It becomes HOME to you.
So, these are 5 things that surprised me about Stuttgart.
- Mind your damn business! – I know right, so coming from a very conservative society where there are a lot of things people are culturally not allowed to do (There is no legal law). I mean no one is going to stop you but wait, someone might actually stop you. For example, if you have any piercing on your face, someone (mostly very old people) might rebuke you about your choice of facial fashion. Ok, that might be an extreme example but let’s say you have a visible tattoo of anything angels, triangles, trees anything you be the centre for everyone attention and gossip. So, if you want to be famous or if you want to be the ‘trend’ just do something out of the ‘normal’. Dye your hair like a unicorn rainbow, wear coloured contact lens and you will be the number one trend before you can say Jack Robinson. On the contrary, you can literally walk about almost naked in Stuttgart and no one will look at you twice (Disclaimer: This does not include Jude and I, we will definitely look and spare 5-6 mins of our precious lives discussing how shocked we are – and no that is not gossiping but social commenting 🙂 LOL). I mean everybody minds their business. No one cares about what you choose to do, or drink or eat or wear. The freedom to be you without fear, I know this might sound strange to some people but if know if know. AH!!! The sweet smell of freedom to do anything, after all, it is your life, isn’t it?
- Smiling is forbidden. lol. This is another thing that surprised me. There are a lot of lovely people in Stuttgart but don’t be surprised when almost none smiles at you. Such a trivial thing but no way. It’s like the evil Santa came around everybody’s house one summer night and stole all their smiles leaving only those who were not in bed at the time of the theft with still some smile to show around. True. Ask anyone I bet you a dollar that they would confirm this. When I went for my German visa interview in Ghana, I experienced this first hand. I walked into a waiting where about 10 -12 people were sitting. Everyone looked nervous and I soon came to understand why. As soon as I sat down, I could hear the interviewer faintly, she was so direct and blunt. No small talk, no-nonsense and that is completely alien in my culture. The tension in the room thicken like chocolate pudding each time the door open and you saw the nervous face of the guy/girl trying to convince the straight stiff face German woman that they would return to their home country. I left there with the confirmation of a visa and the thought that the woman was super mean until I arrived in Stuttgart. OMG!! My first train ride from the airport to my residence was filled with stiff faced people and then I realized, they weren’t mean they just didn’t smile.
- Golden Friendships. yea I know this might seem contradictory to what I just said but (most) the people I met in Stuttgart were some of the loveliest people I have ever met. I am used to smiley people. I am a smiley person if you don’t believe me ask about me. 🙂 But the people in Stuttgart were genuinely friendly at least when they considered you as a friend. For them the question ‘How are you?’ was not just mere small talk but a caring gesture to actually know if everything was ok or not with you. In fact, I am where I am because of some very good friends I met and made in Stuttgart. So if you are ever in Stuttgart, just ignore the ‘smile-less’ but open up who knows, you might just make a lifelong friend.
- The European sun. Jude mentioned (yes Jude is a woman) about the tricky sun. Let me explain a bit more. So coming from an equatorial region of the world, we experience sunlight 12 good hours each every day of the year. And if you see the sun you better be prepared for the heat. This was what I knew (at least when then). Then I moved to Stuttgart and winter began. Sunrise was after 8 am, I mean what does the sun do between 6 am – 8 am? and that’s not even the worse part. After sunrise at 8 Am, it has the audacity to set at 4:30 pm. You wake up in the dark, go to school in the dark and return in the dark. There were days I didn’t see the sun. No warm glowing natural heating system. And in the summer the reversed happened. I, like most of the people, I grew up having our dinner around sunset and go to bed with a moonlit star littered night but noooooooooooo.. not in the summertime in Stuttgart (and other places too, I know but). In the summer, sunrise can be as early as 4:30 am and set after 9 pm. I just could not do it. I could not sleep with the sun shining at night. I can’t. I can’t do it. But in the end, I did lol.
- Lastly, if you are ever going to travel to Stuttgart from any other country, other than Germany, bring your own pillow. I mean this literally. Carry a pillow with you else I can promise you-you are in for a surprise. I am not saying they don’t have pillows in Stuttgart. I am saying those square things you find on the bed are half your body length that if you are 1.74m tall else do the math. It is a very complex situation. To crack this square pillow code. You can’t rest just your head on it because it extends to your stomach and trust me you would probably spend nights turning and trying to figure out the best sleeping position. If you do figure it out, please tell me because I am still clueless.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed writing it.
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