Sunday, November 13, 2011

Learning Curve

I'd like to think when I travel that I'm pretty open to new cultures and can assimilate fairly easily. But everyone likes to think that about themselves, right? Since we are in more of a living situation than a vacation, we're really getting to experience it all, good and bad. All first world problems, of course, but kind of funny or interesting.

Probably the thing irking me the most right now is our silly washer/dryer. Most flats have a combined washer/dryer unit in the kitchen. So you just leave the clothes in the machine and the dry cycle begins once the wash cycle ends. I guess it's an energy efficient machine - that's the only reason I can figure it's so standard here. We have plenty of room for a full size set.

But ugh, do I hate that machine. It doesn't hold very many clothes but still manages to be so rough on them! I am line drying everything, down to our socks, because it takes the machine so long to dry.

The water temps are of course in Celsius, which didn't occur to my jet lagged self on our second day, so I managed to ruin a new shirt of mine. I washed a bunch of Charlie's dark clothes on a very hot water temp, so anything light colored in the load is now covered in splotches. Lovely.

The oven and dishwasher both have some weird symbols on them, but are standard enough. The fridge only keeps things moderately cold, though. Europeans are just not big on very cold food or lots of ice in your drinks. Again, more energy efficient.

Our flat's kitchen is in its own little room with a door, almost like another bedroom that's been outfitted with cabinets along the walls. It's nice, all from IKEA I think. The bathrooms are tiny, but we are fortunate I think to have big rooms in the rest of the flat. It's pretty open with wide hallways - something I've been told is unusual here.

Dialing the phone here is still a bit confusing. So many numbers! Of course, I've made this more complicated than it should be by having both my phone from home (requiring the international dialing codes) and the apartment phone, which I can dial locally. At least, until I lost the handset for the apartment phone.

Kristen took me to an actual grocery store last weekend. Other than we go to the smaller local markets we can walk to. It was a little intimidating, but I figured it out. Things are organized a bit differently, not where someone from the U.S. would expect them. Obviously different terms for food (biscuits vs. crackers, frankfurters vs. hot dogs, etc.) and different measurements (metric obviously and the milk is in liters for instance) and different products.

Oh and the eggs. They are not refrigerated here. They are just out on a shelf, in the middle of a regular aisle. I bought some, brought them home and promptly put them in the fridge. Quite illogical of me.

So far I adore the yogurt and chocolate I can buy here. Sooooo much better than what we have back home. I can't really explain what's different about the yogurt, but it's delicate and not too sweet and I am having some every day. The chocolate here makes Hershey's taste like wax. Just a regular old candy bar here is an incredible treat - tastes like more expensive chocolate in the U.S.

I'm still getting used to the traffic patterns, but am getting better about not looking the wrong way for an oncoming car. Kristen actually has her driver's license and I am so impressed watching her drive. She had to take quite a few driving lessons to get comfortable with it. I would think it would go against every instinct developed driving on the other side of the road back home.

Hmmm, what else. The light switches are opposite here too. And they are usually located outside of the room they light. It seems like keys turn and doors open in the opposite direction most of the time too. So I guess you could say England! Just like the U.S., but opposite!

Charlie and I took our first taxi ride the other day, to Brad's office to meet him for lunch, and I love the taxis here. They are those old fashioned looking cars, but when you get in, you have all this floor space in front of you. Tons of room for bags, the stroller, you name it. So nice.

Still haven't ventured on a bus, but we have become seasoned pros on the tube. Charlie especially has taken to it. He gets right on the train and plops down on a seat, even if there are people on either side! That usually gets a smile or two.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Signing off because I have to go hang up every last article of clothing to drip dry. :)

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