Sometimes I forget that I live in Germany. This sounds like an odd statement but it happens at least once a month. Thankfully it hasn’t happened when I’m driving or crossing the street leading to some tragic cultural mishap like driving headfirst into oncoming traffic. There has been an occasion when I’ve walked into a shop and instinctively talked English, which is generally not so bad but can make you look like an ignorant tourist. Usually what drags me out of this mental lapse is observing something that you can only find in Germany, like a pretzel stand or someone rocking past me in Lederhosen and an efficient looking haircut. Oddly this monthly brain spasm never happens when I’m at home. I can only guess why, but I think it’s the large amount of German cultural signifiers contained within my flat. So, for your consideration I present the top 5 ways to know you’re in a German flat (the name could probably do with an adjustment):
1.) German Light Switches
I have never really understood the need to have such massive light switches, to be honest I find it a little unnerving. Perhaps Germans on average have bigger hands, I can’t say that I’ve noticed, but I shall be checking in future. All I know is that you can’t miss this bad boy even if you wanted to. I’m sure there is a logical, boring answer to this perplexing issue but I choose to believe that the traditional way for Germans to turn the lights on and off is reminiscent of the eighties style fist bump. Even if you’re home alone, you can fist bump your apartment walls in a gratifying show of solidarity.
2.) German Taps
If you have the chance to invite a German to your house, take the opportunity to show him your taps and watch as they grimace. Britain has steadfastly ignored many of mainland Europe’s innovations such as driving on the right, the metric system and worst of all, single taps. No, we in Britain prefer to have two taps that produce either freezing cold or boiling hot. Children are educated to perform a swishing action between the two temperatures in order to wash their hands correctly. In Germany they have one tap, allowing you to select the perfect temperature before soaping up and getting down to business. I can’t say I disagree with them, but I wish they wouldn’t complain about it so much.
3.) German House Tree
In Britain, it’s not uncommon to find some nicely arranged pot plants dying in the corner of many flats. In fact, as I learned at university, it’s rites of passage to commit yearly plant genocide. In Germany pot plants are for the weak willed, what you want is a tree. A big tree. In your living room. I don’t know how or why this has become so popular, but like the light switch conundrum of number one I have come up with my own theories. Perhaps Germans are worried their flats are secretly jealous of the outside and have invited the trees into their homes as a compromise. Maybe Germany is the single biggest fan of Tarzan movies and secretly harbors a desire to relive the excitement by swinging around their homes. My personal favorite theory is that Germans know something about trees that the rest of us don’t. They know that all trees are inherently evil and place them inside their domiciles so they can keep an eye on them. What I do know is this particular specimen pictured hates me, just look at the way it stares.
4.) German Coffee Filter
Coffee is officially a German blood type, I checked and that is a true fact. With coffee being so important, many Germans refrain from subjecting the greatest of hot beverages to the indignity of a coffee machine. Why have a machine that saves you time? Instead we can use a device that clearly went out of fashion in the late 1600’s.
5.) German Window Shutter
Curtains can really pull a room together, or at least that’s what the home furnishings magazine I read in the dentist’s waiting room said. However, ask yourself this; can a nice set of curtains protect you from the inevitable zombie apocalypse? No, they can’t! What you need is some heavy duty metal shutters than can quickly transform a stylish pad into an armored, Zombie proof death fortress in next to no time at all. Germany is sometimes stereotyped as efficient, but in cases of subverting the living dead from eating their faces, this is a fact. They might never come, but should they rise up with a penchant for grey matter, Germany will survive and also be well-rested.