Leibniz Universitat Hannover
Things You Will Miss that You Never Thought You’d Miss
1. Your cat. You have no idea how much you will miss your cat.
2. Publicly accessible drink machines. You never realize how blissful that sprite-on-the-go can be until you aren’t allowed to have it. In public places your eyes will always seek the fluorescent back-lit image of a sweating coke bottle that cries, “Refresh yourself!” Your ears will forever strain to hear the gentle hum of refrigeration that whispers, “Oasisss.” Let’s imagine that you have been running errands all day. You are parched. You’ve probably never been this thirsty in your life. You think maybe no one has ever been this thirsty. Your tongue is crying dry little tears of sand. So you decide to find a drink.
Let’s weigh your options.
- You can stop in a restaurant to “purchase” (aka “donate left arm”) a drink. In a cute little glass. Let’s call her Half-Pint.
- You can stop in a market to buy a water/juice/soda the size (literally) of your lower leg. I’m talking anklecalfknee. The same proportions of a newborn babe. This is sold at a reasonable price. But you must carry this bottle (until you finish it, which, I’m telling you now, will be next week) in addition to the purse and books you are also carrying, through trains, shops and crowds of people. When you aren’t whacking these people in the hip with your anklecalfknee newborn babe, whispering “Entshuldigung” like a fervent prayer, you’ll be dropping it in front of tiny old German ladies whose walkers and temperaments are simply not constructed to withstand that kind of shock. And then, entshuldigung (all-purpose German for “excuse me”) just doesn’t cut it.
- You can cry. Drink your tears. Repeat.
- You can find a bathroom, where you will sip tap water from the sink. But given the fact that public bathrooms are also lacking, you’ll either have to go to a restaurant (and buy something), or to a major train station, where you will be charged 1.50 to 2 euros for entrance into The Loo. So you might as well buy a Half-Pint Sprite at McDonalds. For about the same price.
- You can die of dehydration. If at any time you think you’re going crazy, be comforted by the fact that you are correct.
- You can go home, where there is a faucet and a mug and a refrigerator. There, you will manufacture your very own chilled tap water. Huzzah.
3. Publicly accessible bathrooms that don’t require a $2 donation or a meal or a tearful supplication.
4. Baking soda. You will try to find it. You will be convinced that it is around here somewhere, that it is simply eluding you, that you don’t have its correct German name, that you aren’t looking in the right places. Stop blaming yourself, and repeat after me. Germans. Do not use. Arm and Hammer. They use something else entirely, and it isn’t worth scouring the city for it. (but it is worth making puns about.)
5. Krispy Kreme Donuts. You knew all along there was no alternative, you just didn’t want to face it. This is a time for moral support and listless consumer choices meant to fill that donut-shaped hole in your heart. (They won’t, but you can try.) I suggest the chocolate-covered coconut marshmallow fluffs. The pink ones. I like to call them bon bons.
6. Your car. Nothing says, “I CAN!” like a Honda Accord. Nothing says, “I CAN’T!” like public transportation workers on strike.
7. Quality canned soup. At least, canned soup that you know from years of consumer experience to be good quality. You may have a very clear internalized hierarchy of American brand names, you may speak and understand the language of logo design (nothing says crappy like comic sans), but all that amounts to jack squat when you’re operating on foreign soil. Perhaps Germany possesses the most delectable canned soups of all the world. But I wouldn’t know; they all look the same, and one looks as chintzy or as exotic as the next. It will take you 20 more years to establish another liquid lexicon. In the meantime, you must either do without, or purchase at will. Just select the one that sounds the best when you slosh it around a bit.