Sunday, January 31, 2010

The glamourous weekends of expats in small German towns

Weekends in the months of January thru May are the most dreaded time for ex-pats living in German towns.  It is quite possible on weekends that we will do absolutely nothing and see no one. This is because:

1. There are few people who want to meet on the weekends.  Most Germans reserve weekends "family time," and either travel home or plan events for their families.  Visitors are rarely invited/welcome to join family time.  Thus, the few ex-pats meet up (again).

2. Everything (stores, museums, etc.) close by or before 5pm on Saturday.  And nothing is open on Sunday (except the church).

3. It's too cold to partake in outside activities.  Outdoor activities, like walking, window shopping, playing soccer, etc., usually are my preferred weekend events in the summer.  However during the winter, it's often freezing and raining.

4. Travel in Europe is expensive.  If I budget well, I can afford a weekend trip once every 1-1.5 months (at best).  And in winter, travel to most European destinations isn't fun since it's cold everywhere. 

The typical winter weekend of an ex-pat living in a German town involves being a recluse.  We often arrive Friday evening at our apartment and don't leave again until Monday morning return.  Occasionally, we'll meet other ex-pats for dinner/drinks on Friday or Saturday evening (however these events are often cancelled on cold, snowy, slushy weekends like this one).  Usually we stay inside and watch online reruns of our favorite US TV shows (we actually celebrate finding a new website which doesn't limit the time that viewers are allowed stream US TV shows for free).

To sum it up, two ex-pats - who are both very social - have told me at separate times "It often happens that I don't talk to anyone for the entire weekend. No one has time to meet, no one has time to talk on the phone, and shops are closed so even conversations with shopkeepers don't happen."  What a glamorous life we lead!  I need to move to a city.

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