“Honey, I am buying a new wall…” – Cultural Differences At Home

Since the first day, I keep discovering differences in my new home. Most houses in this Area have just one level and no basement. The walls are very thin and can be replaced easily. A few weeks ago we had to replace a wall in our bathroom. For my German friends who might read this blog, this sounds like a big project. When my husband said “Honey, I am heading to Home Depot to buy a new wall” I realized that American walls must be very different… We went to the store and bought a wall, cut it to the size we needed and carried it home by car. The wall was replaced in one day. I have a hard time calling this a “wall”. This was a very funny experience for me.

The next big difference is that every house and store has an AC (air conditioner = Klimaanlage). The summer in Charleston starts in April/May and ends in October. This is a long time and it can get very hot. But in stores its freezing cold so I always carry a jacket with me. When my husband visited me in Germany (in the summer) he asked me if I can turn the AC on. I told him that we don’t have one. He thought I am kidding. He did not like this answer and built his own AC using frozen water bottles, a fan, and an Aldi bag. I will never forget this picture.

A few weeks ago my German friends visited me to celebrate my wedding. The day before they were all at our house. I was very confused that the whole time the bathroom door was closed. In America, the doors generally are kept open. Even the front door is most of the time not locked. Apparently, I am already getting used to the little things Americans do differently at home. But our front door is always locked! That’s something I cannot give up.

Also, someone of my German friends opened the windows and doors to let some air in (Frische Luft).  A few mosquitoes felt invited to join the party… Weeks after all the Germans were gone I still found mosquitoes and smiled about my German friends and their desire for “frische Luft”.  I learned quickly that this is not a good idea… The only air that’s moving in my house is the air coming from the AC.

In addition, there are a few new noises in the house I am not used to. Our Refrigerators has a build in ice maker. Americans love putting ice cubes in their drinks. I still cannot understand why. When we are out I order my water always “without ice”. That is mostly the moment when the waitress knows that I am not from here. Another unfamiliar sound was the garbage disposal. It is installed under the kitchen sink and shreds the food garbage. The electronic machines are very common in American households.

I never thought life could be so different here but I enjoy to learn something new every day. Most of the time it is very funny for me and my husband to discover the little things our cultures are doing differently.

That’s it for today. Next Tuesday I will tell you more about this German American Life. 🙂


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