Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The first Top 10 list - What to bring (and NOT) nach Deutschland UPDATE

I am here in Germany now almost at my 3 month anniversary of when we arrived. Here is a list of the Top 10 things I wish I would have brought:

What I wish I would have brought:

1. baking powder & baking soda -I am a glass half full person. I assumed I would master the art of German cooking in no time and not need American Baking Powder. If I did have a problem, magical German baking gartenzwergs would come to my rescue. I am now a glass half empty person. Baking powder here is single reactive not double reactive like in the States and I can't even make a pancake to save my life.

2. more scarves - Cliff at Regensblog had this to say about Germans and their scarves, "Put on a scarf as soon as the sun is partially obscured by the suggestion of a cloud."

3. boots - my boots took up too much room and I had a fantasy that I would get "cool European boots." However, take away one's salary and add one toddler who hates shopping and with no babysitter and store hours that close early and hence I only have one pair of boots with me.

4. more winter stuff - When I was a glass full person, I thought the weather here was going to be similar to Seattle. I don't know why I thought that. However, I have since learned that my Arc'teryx fleece (as cool as that was in Seattle!), no gloves and hat is not going to cut it.

5. shoes I can walk in AND are cute- I am used to getting in my car and not having to walk anywhere. However, in Europe, I walk everywhere OR to the train station to get everywhere. I only have cute shoes - not cute, functional shoes I can walk in for long periods of time.

6. Water bottle - why did I leave my water bottle at home? Your guess is as good as mine.

7. English books- Sure I can buy English books here but the main book store is in Prenzlauer Berg - 45 min away and the English books are expensive!

8. Snore Strips - The Scientist wakes me up in the middle of the night when these are not on when he has a cold/sinus issues. They have them here but they are 7 Euros for 10 which is 4X the cost in the US! And you have to ask behind the counter at the Apotheke (pharmacy) because one only knows what one would do to put oneself in danger if they were not regulated.

9. Men & Women's antiperspirant - Spray deodorant is wayyyy too common here for my liking. Yuk!!!

10. Purplish red hair dye - because if you can't beat them, join them! (This isn't the best picture of it but her hair was bright purple!)
UPDATE: I am also going to add chili powder, taco seasoning, cheese cloth, BBQ sauce, pie plates, craisins, vanilla (to tie me over till I can make some) and kids pajamas. (They seem so expensive and not very comfortable here!)

What I wish I would NOT have brought:

1. shorts - The Germans only wear shorts when it is REALLY hot outside and in Berlin that constitutes .00001% of the days in a year.

2. Pants that ripped the first time I wore them and not because I put on the Expat 15 but more like Gap outlet shoddy stitching.

Any other tips? If other expats want to write about this, commment below what you would have brought ot NOT brought OR put a link in comments if you blog about it and I will post it on my blog!

Note: I don't want any emails telling me I can find baking soda in boxes at Galarie Kaufhof or KaDeWe. Do I seem like I want to buy an incredibly small box of baking soda for 15Euros? I know you can find everything in Germany but affording it in Germany is a completely different story!

Note #2: I also would have had much better luck if I did not have a little 2 year old who accompanies me everywhere and wants to break touch everything.


C N Heidelberg said...

"shoes I can walk in AND are cute" - I guess I don't know what shoe shopping in Seattle is like, but for me the possibility of finding this type of shoe seems far greater here in Germany than it ever dreamed of being in Boston!!

Re: baking soda; I saw a big box in the cleaning section at Woolworth. (Kaiser Natron - it's the same brand I bought packets of at the grocery store)

arturgreensward said...

I guess for me the list of things that I "wish I had brought" is really the list of things that I "tell people to bring me when they visit"

In Belgium we make people bring us: Top Ramen (can find it here at 20X the cost). Real chili powder. A-1 sauce. Peppridge Farm stuffing mix (I tried to make my own stuffing mix two Thanksgivings ago and it sucked). Liquid vanilla (until I figured out how to make my own). And, I'm embarrassed to admit... Red Vines.

G in Berlin said...

I will give you a box of baking soda: I have enough.

There's a much bigger and better English book shop a 20 minute walk from me or you (I'm a slow walker) or a 5 minute bus ride. Shall we do that next week? Of course, you haven't even looked through my shelves yet- the German says I should open my own store.

Shoes- what can I say. One severe case of Plantar Fasciatiis that turned to a heel spur later and I can say: wear supportive shoes. I think your Danskos look great. I also think shoes here are way better in terms of selectin than on the US, but also quite expensive. But with my new prescription orthotics, I guess I can buy the cheap ones now.

Scarves... buy them. I need to as wll, as I suffer through my pre-season erkaltung.

G in Berlin said...

arturgreensward: Learn from my late discovery- you can get kick butt chili powder and spices at both Asian markets and Arab markets. And great hot sauce, although Louisiana hotsauce still needs to be imported.

Yelli said...

Hey everyone-I think some of you are misunderstanding me. I am not saying you "can't" find these things here. I am trying to say I I SHOULD have brought this stuff with me instead of suffering once I got here. It would have been easier and possibly cheaper to do this in the States while I had "grandparents" babysitters and 2 incomes!

@ CN- thanks for the tip! I didn't even think of checking in the cleaning section even though that is what I used baking soda for frequently.

Anonymous said...

How ab out trying a British Food Store for your baking needs. Buy there ALL the time and it´s THE same!

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

LOL...I was told it would be similar to Seattle as well...and it's a LIE! :) Yes, it gets cold here...warm clothes are a must.

Alyssa said...

I saw your posting on the German Way listserve-- and followed your blog link :-) I moved to Berlin to teach at an International School.

I wished I had brought mechanical pencils with me. I brought a few-- but they are very expensive here. I am still waiting for my stuff to arrive from the USA and I hope I thought to pack a few packs of pencils!

BTW: I'm glad you took a photo of the statues at the U-Bahn station. Every time I see those I just have to wonder what the back story is on those.

Yelli said...

@ CN- I am not sure I made myself clear but I wish I would have brought nice comfortable AND cute shoes before I had to suffer through blisters! You are totally correct here though-shoes that I am looking for are much more common here...

@ Anon- Thanks for the tip! I am sure there are some in Berlin!

@ caff cowgirl - I seriously do not know what made me think that!

@ Alyssa - I had no idea mechanical pencils were so expensive!

As for the statues, I kept thinking at first the "male part" had to be something else! :)