Diary of an Expat, Part 59
Coming back to Germany wheeee
So now it gives a dog again in Germanland.

Unfortunately I can't quite tell how happy I am, because there is a confluence of two powerful rivers, one of which is my pleasure at being home once more, and one of which is my pleasure at not being on an airplane anymore. So it's hard to say.

In the intervening weeks, it seems that Germany has found winter and gotten a really good hold on it. Today, fatigued by 30 hours of work and travel rolled into one, I slept rather longer than I had originally intended, and in doing so completely missed the "day" part of "Saturday." By 5 o'clock (not when I awoke, but when I had mustered myself up into something less than a gibbering mess) it was completely dark.

I reread Asimov's "Nightfall" earlier today, just because, and when I stepped out into the city to get some errands done in the darkness I thought about it again: it's interesting, to live in a world where one is compelled to function in the absence of the sun. It's not so bad. There's also some snow on the ground, and I gather this also probably happened while I was asleep.

Any place becomes like home if you live there long enough, which is probably less an expatriate's reflection and more just a simple matter of practicality. This is the place where my bed is, where my refrigerator is, where I know the people at the shops. I don't really miss the United States these days, and when I travel back I find reminders of why.

It's not actually the reasons you think; I don't conspicuously dislike America as a state, nor Americans. It's mostly just the little things that add up, and it's less anything else than mere familiarity that makes Germany seem more ordinary and normal. There are some things Americans do do conspicuously awfully — chiefly, air travel — and their preëinence when I'm traveling probably does leave a little to be desired.

Oh. One thing I have noticed, upon returning to the States, is that I speak with an accent that is different from the one I used to have. It's not a German accent, exactly, but it's exacerbated when I'm talking to Germans, or in places where I don't have adequate feedback on the sound of my voice (for example, when I'm on the phone).

Previously I might have evinced some skepticism for those who disappear to faroff lands and return talking differently, but having been confronted with it (not by myself) I suppose I'll have to cut them some slack. I believe one adapts to the language one hears, and for me that's not a whole lot of Midwestern — to the point where listening to Chicagoans sounded, every now and then, just a little grating.

But whatever. Just another checkmark in the "living in Germany means my English decays taster than my German improves" column.

Anyway, since I've talked about things that Americans do conspicuously poorly, let's now turn our keen eye on Fritz Bankermann and the frustrating institution that is Deutsche Bank. I told my account representative that I was going to be travelling to the United States and needed my credit card to work. Her reply was strangely noncommital, for someone working for an international finance company.

My credit card worked for about half my trip, then abruptly stopped. I return to Germany to find a letter from DB saying, in so many words, "we didn't know what was going on with your card, man, so we cancelled it."

American hotels really don't like taking cash, as it happens, but in the end their greed wins out. So that's good. It just means that I wind up looking for rooms close to a US Bank branch office, that's all.

But no more! Now I'm back in Germany, where if you have a big enough suitcase full of Euro notes, you can buy the whole damn building if you want. And then you can relax, sipping a glass of wine and watching the sun go down.

You know, at 3:30.
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