In trying to make this blog relevant for other expats, I thought I'd share my Top Ten list of what I found new when I first moved to Frankfurt (I had to look in my journal for some of these...funny how time softens the edges on memories:)
10. Traveling distance: yes, many countries are close by, but traveling 2 hours by car is a big deal, something that's a big weekend trip...I moved from Arizona,where I'd drive "to town" (3 1/2 hours) in one day.
9. Finding myself eavesdropping on English-speakers, just because it made me feel good to understand what they were saying.
8. Meeting many expats who regularly move around the world (Frankfurt or city specific, I think).
7. Hearing many, many languages as part of a normal day. In Frankfurt, I'm sure it's more extreme than in the country, but on a typical day I hear English, German, various Asian (Korean, Japanese, especially), several slavic languages, French, a few African languages and, of course, Turkish.
6. Shop hours: when I moved here, 8pm was the new, later closing time (now it's 9, 10 or even(!) 12am); no shopping on Sundays (now you can shop on Sundays 4 times a year), and holidays.....you'd think the world would end, the way everyone (even I now!) reacts to stores being closed over the holidays.
5. Amount of religious holidays in the year. Getting 3 days off for Easter and Christmas, Pentecost, Christ's Assension, etc. Oh! and "Bruckentage" - bridge days - when a holiday falls on Tuesday or Thursday, many (most?) people take off the Monday or Friday to have an extended weekend...this struck me as an odd but good tradition.
4. Einbahnstrassen (One way streets)
3. Being able to find at least one piece of Ikea furniture in each friends' apartment we visited.
2. Learning that Saturday really does revolve around the National Soccer League (at least in our house:)
1. No kitchen in our apartment. For 3 weeks (it felt like 3 months!) we waited for our ordered kitchen to come! Dishes were done in the shower; we grew very tired of eating out; we ate lots of salads and raclette (wonderful European tradition of grilling veggies, meat and comté cheese).
What were some of your surprises when you moved to a new area?