Its been quite over a year now in Germany. I live in a small town in Western part of the country, called Kaiserslautern(KL).
Germany has cold climate most part of the year,a little of summer and rain which can accompany any season (or atleast so it is in KL) . I remember how astonished I was when I saw the apartments with no ceiling fans and instead some strange metal structures attached to the walls everywhere (later realizing them as heaters.. 😉 )
Here,people start working quite early in the morning, and also retire by early evening. Sundays happen to be the quietest days here, contrary to India where everyone is outside with family/friends on Sunday. ( Of course, weather plays a big role.)
In spite of being a travel lover, I haven’t been to many places around until now, due to hectic semesters and exam schedules (& also the comparatively expensive public transport :D); but I guess after living over a year, I do have some sense about the living in the country.
I wanted to write this post since quite sometime, and finally when I do sit to write it, it is when I am a little nostalgic about home..
Nevertheless, here we go:
1. Un-altered Nature
Long forest ranges,mountains, grasslands.. urban living has not tempered the natural environments. My university has a forest just behind it, and people come to walk/nordic walk/jog in the forest trails.
While travelling through trains, you can see huge forest ranges with tall trees standing on mountains and windmills installed in the fields..
2. Roof topped houses
Houses with red roofs and cute windows, with decorated window sills.. Though not typical only to Germany, I totally love this landscape. Every house has a surrounding garden with space for kids to play and a garage, and colorful flowers adorn most of the balconies.
Design seems to be in everything that you look around.
3. Colors of fall
As it is truly said, every leaf becomes a flower in autumn.. Watching the leaves turn from green to yellow to orange and finally bright red is pure bliss. The whole landscape around becomes so colorful!
I hadn’t seen such autumn back home, and needless to say,I have taken countless photos of the trees during fall.
4. Serious culture for sports
There is undoubtedly a lot of automation in daily life of the country here; but people do serious sports, or rather they do sports seriously! You find people jogging on the lanes almost any time of the day, any time of the year.
The UniSport (University Sports Center) & UniFit (University Gym) itself have so many types of fitness training programs, so many types of games and Yoga and Dances and other indoor & outdoor sports programs.
From youngsters to senior citizens, people well equipped with sports clothing and equipments are so common to spot.
5. (Sturdy) Windows!
Most of the modern architectures have a lot of windows. Sometimes, the whole building may seem as a row of windows with only the necessary supporting structures.
Not to forget, here the weather is either cold or rainy, most of the times. So, the windows need to be carefully designed so as to not let wind/water in. So they are very heavy, and also with 2 layers of glass, for the extreme winter. The windows can also be opened in different ways, either just for some ventilation, or fully open.
It is so nice to have a workspace with a lot of outside view. =)
6. Uni Culture
(things I like about my uni.)
Apart from Christmas break, there is no vacation as such. There is lecture-period and then lecture-free period, when exams are scheduled, followed by the lecture-period of the next semester. The administration,departments, libraries (main + department lib.), Mensa (student cafeteria) and everything else is open all the time of the year. Of course, people take holidays during the lecture free periods, but there is no such time when everything shuts down or so.
The arrangement of the books on the shelves is such that all books stay tight, and are all visible and easy to take from the shelf. Picking one book wouldn’t create a cascading fall of the others .. 😉
There are study rooms inside the libraries, for group studies. These rooms have glass walls allowing ample amount of light. (During exam times, every1 rushes at 8am to get a group study room.!)There is also space for studying alone, which are silence zones.
1 copy of those books relevant to the semester is put in a special rack in the library and those books can’t be issued. So there is always at least 1 copy of the most relevant course text available in the library all the time, to read. Ya, those books could be taken home 2 hours before the library closes and have to be returned the next day within 2 hours of the opening (it is called ‘Kurz Ausleihen’ ( ‘Short borrow’)).Good utilization of resources,isn’t it! =)
The main library is open until 11pm and is open again from 8am the next day.U can borrow any number of books and can renew them online. (Lib. sends a reminder for that too! )
Such lil measures would make a library not just a place to issue-return a book, but to stay and study.
Exam structure is quite different from India. Here there are oral exams for many of the subjects in graduate education. Also, exam dates are quite flexible and students can choose which date to take an exam. Also, a registered exam can be cancelled 1 week before the scheduled date (rules vary a bit depending on oral/written exam)
I like the fact that a student can choose when/whether to give an exam, and also once registered doesn’t mean one must end up giving that exam, come what may.
- Student ID
Our student id is quite fancy. It can be used for almost any transaction within the uni. and it is also your ticket for the public transport in the region. The id can be recharged with balance, for having food at the Mensa, or printing something in the university printers. There are nice small machines in the campus to recharge your card and also other machines to print your semester ticket.
Also, you can lock/unlock the lockers in the library using your card.
So your student id is surely your library card, also your entry to the Mensa (cafeteria) & UniSport & to all the buses and the trains in the region of your ticket.
7. Infrastructure for the specially abled
In general, I have observed that buildings and public transport systems have good infrastructure for the specially abled .
Slopes are generally present along side stairways. Buses have a nice platform that can be lowered to allow a wheelchair / pram into the bus.
It is important to have incorporated these aspects while designing civic systems.
8. Waste Management
The waste is categorized at the point it is collected. In general, Glass, Plastic & Packaging , Bio are well seperated. For glass, there are collector bins depending on the color of the glass (white, green or brown).
All public places have enough bins for waste disposal.
9. Less dust (& so less cleaning 😉 )
Well, this one is to pamper one’s laziness.. 😛 😀 In general, there is quite less dust in the air and the surroundings (perhaps due to the cold & rain & the greenery around! ) and so one need not keep dusting the windows and the shelves and the work space as often.
I remember back home, if I would have cleaned my desk in the morning, it would seem as if I havn’t touched it since ages by the time its evening.
Also, not to forget the cold makes it a hard climate for ants and other insects to survive in general.. (no lizards too!). So homes have much less bio diversity! 😉
10. Everything else!
Beautiful Christmas Markets, Ice Skating, hazelnut spreads & Cheesecakes & Lebkuchens & yogurt fruits gums & strawberries, overcoats and scarfs and snow …
Both the countries I have lived so far, India and Germany, are so different and so beautiful in their own respects.
There shall be newer experiences in yet newer places, ain’t it! 🙂