Its been 4 months in this new land, world… life abroad. Things that happen in my day to day have become commonplace and I realized today that I want to capture them, write them down and remark on them before they become the norm for me here in Munich.
There are so many subtle differences, and some much larger, in the way the people live here in this city compared to what I am used to. I have had the privelege of living in 4 pretty significant U.S. cities and feel like I have a good basis to compare the flow of life as we know it to the German ways here in Bavaria.
#1 — The Walk.
Tonight as we stepped out the door to take a long evening walk along the Isar River, I realized this act is one thing that is new and becoming common to my husband and I that people back home do not tend to do. The people here in Munich very purposely set time aside to walk together, in groups, as couples, with friends, and they walk for a very long time. They all do it. You say, “Shall we go for a walk this evening?” or “Wie werden heute Abend fur Einen spaziergang?” Especially on Sundays!! That is the day that everything is closed, all the main businesses, and the locals go for walks, to church, to the biergaartens and to eat in restaurants. The most striking thing about this, is that the idea and the act itself is so wonderful……they are being so purposeful about connecting with their family, friends, loved ones, colleagues, whomever and I wonder, “WHY did I NOT take long walks and stroll around with the people I loved more?” It is such a wonderful idea. The Englisher Garten in Munich spans from the city center to the upper northeastern limits, and is larger than Central Park in New York. The trees now in Spring, moving into Summer are lush and full, shading the city from view and creating this incredible green path that makes you feel as if you are in the mountains, the wilderness, anywhere but the bustle of a major international city.
The Isar River runs parallel to many paths of the Englisher Garten and flows noisily in parts, with a relaxing sound of rushing water. Being away from the Pacific Coast, the sights and sounds of this natural area in the city is comforting on a daily basis.
#2 –Children run wild.
“Who’s child is that??”…. mmmm, no really…. WHOM do you belong to??? I find myself thinking maybe everyday? Of course, this is purely from observation at this point but I can tell you that its hard to identify the parents of kids on the street, in the grocery store, on the tram or the train, and that’s because often these parents are not present. Kids are blocks away before anyone is worried about them, they run and often bump into you with no spacial sense, and they are genuinely having the time of their lives. You see them riding the tram in pairs or solo. It’s striking because coming from the U.S I am used to parents keeping the kids close, having a general sense of fear and, hovering maybe? Not all parents are this way, but I feel confident pointing out that here in Munich most or ALL of the parents are the opposite of hovering and the kids seem to be working it out just fine. I’ve talked to enough people on both sides now, American and German, to be convinced this is a cultural difference and I’m impressed with this freedom of development.
#3 — Dog is King!
On my runs I have made it a game to look at the dog and then find the person associated with that dog, its not obvious, its actually a very challenging game. The dogs are not on leash, I think I have seen a total of 12 leashed dogs in my time here (and Munich is a dog city, so thats saying a lot) The public transportation allows dogs on at all times, just buy them a ticket, monthly or a year long pass, and your furry friend gets to go everywhere. It makes me smile so large. It is hard on dogs to be in cities, on streets, no doubt there is some stress associated with learning escalators as your daily commute on 4 paws…….BUT, to be with your owner, your pack? To be able to travel freely beside them in your home town, that is remarkable. When it is hot, the dogs cool in the Isar river and run around greeting one another on walks. I am sure there are rules, there are always strict rules in Germany, and I may not be able to interpret them all with my limited language ability at this point. But as a visitor to a new country and even if you were to pass through on vacation, you would be stunned by the relationship to dogs here. Its a major metropolitan city, full of international businesses, expats and multiple cultural representations and the dogs hold their own, and then some. I have so much respect for that. To have a pet, a pup, is a huge responsibilty and can be a hardship with a job living in a large city. Dogs are loved and respected here, things are right. I am in love with that.
3 of my favorites and so many more to come.
Words are finally coming to me more easily in German, the life is beginning to be life, and not just a visit. I am here. I belong here, this is what I am and where I go for now. L and I are happy, even dealing with the good-byes and the loss we suffered with this move.
The beauty of a new place, of intrigue and education of a new culture and people, there is nothing you can trade for that. We are both so thankful and incredulous when we come home at the end of the day.
More to come….