Most of the new year so far has been spent settling into a fantastic new apartment and getting used to daily life in Germany. I just completed an extremely well-taught German class (five mornings per week – the perfect routine while still applying for jobs) and signed up for the next session which begins next week. Back at the apartment, I’ve been getting used to using an induction stove and oven in degrees Celsius, converting recipes measurements to or from the metric system (we measure butter in cups but here it’s in grams, which aren’t even comparable units), and adjusting to a German washer and dryer. When James and I first looked at the laundry area (which the Italian restaurant downstairs also uses for one of their refrigerators) on our walkthrough, I saw the water hook-ups but asked where the vent was for the dryer. Here, however, the dryer collects water in a compartment that you have to empty after each load and doesn’t need a vent. The washer and dryer are much smaller compared to those in America and are high-efficiency, which also translates to requiring almost two hours per machine.
We are very fortunate to have a great deal of built-in storage in our apartment, which is unusual here. In addition, like most German apartments, we have a storage room in the basement (der Keller) for things like suitcases and bikes. I was wondering if the cathedrals have a giant room like that to house all of the Christmas market stalls during the other eleven months of the year. We also have floorboard heating which is, interestingly enough, rather common here. Our apartment even has a Wintergarten, which is a sunroom that can be used for as much garden as you care to take care of.
I have no complaints about living here but the most complicated aspect of daily life so far has been, without a doubt, managing the recycling. Behind our building outside there are containers for four different types of waste, and that doesn’t even cover everything we’re responsible for sorting. Similar to in the U.S., there is a container for paper (Altpapier = old paper), packaging (which mostly includes plastic containers and metal cans), and trash (our garbage can inexplicably has a sticker of a velociraptor but no label). Additionally, there’s a container for Biorubbish, or fruit and vegetable peels, etc. Plastic bottles, however, need to be returned to the same store we bought them from in exchange for change back. And the glass is another story. The nearest glass recycling receptacles are about a kilometer away. Once there, the glass has to be further sorted into one of three containers: white, brown, or green (which can include any other colors of glass as well). As you can imagine, all of these categories really challenge my love of recycling and make storage at home convoluted. I haven’t found anything more efficient so far than a small trash can, Biorubbish container, and paper/packaging container in the kitchen, in addition to a crate for plastic bottles and a box for glass bottles in the closet.