Diary of an Expat, Part 13
Things I miss about the United States
So, apparently, I have been in Germany now for just over three months. I'm not really sure where the time has gone — going back through these dispatches, it doesn't really seem like all that long ago. When it was, for instance, not ridiculously cold outside.

(Well. For somebody who spent the last three years in California)

Anyway, I'm decently well acclimated these days, and I love the heck out of Berlin. Even though I can't always understand what people are saying, it very much feels like home. But. But sometimes there are things that remind you that you are in a crazy, far-off land, and sometimes there are things that you deeply miss from your homeland.

Sometimes this is a very broad category. For example, I miss just being able to buy content, like books or music or (who am I kidding) video games. I'd like to buy the old game Command and Conquer. Amazon.de does sell this, but note that the language ("Sprache") is, perplexingly, listed not just as German but as German four times over. Deutsch4; how the hell am I supposed to deal with that?

"Restaurants," also, is a broad category. San Franciscans are accustomed to having the world's cuisine at their beck and call. In Berlin (and in particular in my neighborhood) there are plenty of restaurants whose names suggest foreign food, but calling it "hit or miss" would be generous. It's cheap, which is nice, but generally bland and unadventurous. This is maybe the complaint I hear most often about Berlin — the food sucks — and I can't argue with it.

But, anyway, sometimes the things you miss are much more narrow. So here, three months along, are some things that I miss from the United States (and have therefore done without for three months :/):

Peanut butter. This is part of a long list of things that the Germans technically have, but do not have very well. In the United States it's possible to get pretty decent peanut butter quite easily. Here, "good peanut butter" is the domain of esoteric specialty shops, and the German equivalent of Jif is still highly lacking.

White bread. See above. Sometimes, as for example when you are making a goddamned peanut butter sandwich, you want some white bread. These days, though, I buy all of my bread fresh, less out of any intrinsic love of fresh bread (though I do love it intrinsically) and more because while the Germans sell white bread (sometimes called American style and garnished with American flag iconography) it's horrid.

In-N-Out. I think there are probably German fast food chains, although I don't really know what they are. The fast food here is American in origin — McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, etc. — and I have not set foot in them so I don't really know how they stack up. I do know, however, that sometimes I would kill for an In-N-Out hamburger. Also Sonic's. Also, Good Times, a local Denver joint that has really, really amazing hamburgers. Also Five Guys. Basically what I'm saying is I miss hamburgers a bunch, I guess, and French's mustard.

Damnit, now I'm hungry and it's late at night :( Non-food item:

English keyboards. I write several thousand words a day, and so my muscle memory is relatively well-honed. This also means that I am used to typing on an American keyboard. German keyboards are arranged problematically. It's possible to change the language in your OS, so that touch-typing solves most of the problem, but they all make the enter key run into where you'd expect to find the "|" key, and the "`~" key produces something other than a tilde. This makes attempting to navigate to my home directory an exercise in frustration and swearing.

Bacon. I'm not a diehard bacon evangelist like some people, but it has its places. Germany, evidently, is not one of them. Note that American-style bacon is looked down upon by the rest of the world, and the advice I have been given by expatriate coworkers is that I should go directly to a butcher. Given my current level of German, I confess to a slight worry over what exactly I would wind up inadvertently purchasing.

Ibuprofen. I am in my mid-20s, but I am not yet fully domesticated. My medicine cabinet, therefore, is quite spartan, and in general there is no physical malady that cannot be corrected with some application of either Diet Coke, red wine, or Advil Liqui-Gels. Basically it's like a modern version of bodily humour therapy, and I have been out of Advil Liqui-Gels for three goddamend months. My humours are hella unbalanced.

YouTube. This is not to say that I do not literally have access to YouTube, but I would say that approximately every other link that somebody sends me fails to load because the GEMA, the German copyright authority, is deciding to be an asshole. Specifically, they have demanded that in order to license any content in Germany, they want YouTube to pay €.12 per play. This would place the cost of Rickrolling to YouTube at more than eight million dollars. Copyright and I had an adversarial relationship before I moved to Germany; these days, I would see the entire concept of intellectual property stabbed through the eyeball. But I wouldn't see it on YouTube, not if any music was playing in the background.

Cholula hot sauce. Just sayin'.
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