Home > Germany, Personal > Toytown and Cheese Sandwiches

Toytown and Cheese Sandwiches

Making original observations on the differences between Europe and America is as difficult as…well, as finding cheddar cheese in Germany. As far as small but critical differences go, that one may have been the biggest surprise. Germans apparently love Gouda and abhor the rich, tangy bite of the king of cheese. I’m not sure how original that observation was, but it makes a nice change from the standard “look how easy it is to get alcohol here” stereotype I notice many Americans (including myself) are tempted to fall into when comparing cultures. Cheese is on my mind mainly because as far as cheap and easy lunches go, that’s what I’ve found is best. With so much pork (in everything) I find myself becoming, if not a vegetarian, then something very close to.

I’ve been so busy with work this week I really only think about food when I’m making my sandwich in the morning.  Between going through nearly 800 press releases to fix formatting errors and reprioritizing all 30,000 images on the website, I always have things to do. Luckily not all my work in menial, I’ve completed my first press release (although I’m not thrilled with the editing) and written material for several web pages, not to mention writing a support letter for another astronomy organization and doing quite a bit of editing (with my “native polish”) for others.

After work I’ve mainly been too tired to do much of anything until last night. My colleague Ross, from North Ireland, invited me to a bar for a Toytown event. Toytown is an organization in Germany for expatriates (usually English speakers) to meet their fellows and create connections and friendships while in a foreign land.  That sounded good to me so at about nine pm I met Ross in Marienplatz (the main center of Munich) and went to the Clubhouse Bar. With its English menus and old–time American film star pictures decor, the Clubhouse was clearly for non-locals. Still there were about forty people (the event was for “indecisive 20-somethings”) crammed into the pretty small area, crowding the bar to get beer or other drinks (each drink that night came with a free shot of some fruity, awful liquor that tasted like cough syrup) and I quickly met many fellow foreigners. What was most interesting to me was that none of the people I met were American, but instead came from every other corner of the English-speaking world: Ireland, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, it was a veritable smorgasbord of accent and dialect. Apparently its not uncommon for British companies to send young employees for six months or a year overseas as I learned from Roisin, a North Irish girl working for an aerospace company. It was strongly reminiscent of Semester at Sea, including the bartender pouring shots directly into the mouths of several girls (I didn’t meet them but I think I heard American accents there) and the inevitable “Don’t Stop Believing” playing over the bar sound system.  One thing I’ve noted among Europeans, especially those who haven’t been to America, is they all want to know if American colleges are like they are portrayed in movies and television, which can lead to some pretty lengthy, if funny explanations and comparisons with their own schools. I left about midnight and managed to make my way back to Garching to get up for work today. I expect I will do more Toytown events in the future if only to discover more bars and pubs in town.

This weekend I have big plans to explore Munich although some of the stuff I really want to see won’t be open until spring. Nonetheless I am very much looking forward to it, especially the prospect of being outside during daylight hours.

Categories: Germany, Personal
  1. Britt
    January 22, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Dear Eric, I love the way you write and I will with great interest follow your blog. It is great. Thank you so much for putting your thoughts online so that we Europeans can better understand what it is like for you to come here. Mind you, I have been here for over 25 years and there are still things I don’t like with the German system. But I guess Paradise (or whatever we believe this to be) does not exist. Cheers, Britt

  2. lee r
    January 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    eric..your tales of the young sngle college man are terrific..keep them coming..europe needs a dose of american reality and you are just the man to bring it.
    enjoy and say hi to the grls at the hofbrau haus..tell helga I am happily married.

  3. Britt
    January 22, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    I am not sure that Europe needs a dose of American reality or the other way around, but I encourage the blog!

  1. March 5, 2010 at 2:03 pm
  2. July 5, 2010 at 3:57 pm

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