18 July 2017

Emerging from the Cave

We had a guest recently who curiously enough, tested my patience. There are many different ways how it happened, but in hindsight, there is a common theme that ran through all of these issues. It is because this guest was not too experienced with the world, and there were plenty of issues that were rather different from what he was used to. These issues then rubbed on us the wrong way, so to speak.

See, this person used to be an ultra-Orthodox Jew. He has gotten away from that community now, but nevertheless, he doesn't have a lot of experience with respect to how the world outside the Orthodox bubble would be different. So he starts traveling, visiting places in Europe that he hasn't been to, as well as places where his friends live, like here in Berlin. He brings the assumptions that he has along with him, which, perhaps, until now, he has taken as truth.

For example, silence is valued here in Germany, especially in the weekends. There are laws designed to curb noise. So when you're at home during the weekend, you better not stand on your balcony talking loudly on your phone.

Another example, tipping here is simply rounding up. If you want to tip, you tell the person how much you want to tip by simply rounding up the bill. People don't leave coins at the table here. It's just a different way of tipping, so deal with it.

Also, people here in Germany prefer cash over credit cards, and sometimes even when they take cards, they only take locally-issued cards and not foreign ones. There are reasons why this is the case. I might not personally agree with them, but since I live here, I deal with it.

So if you're visiting Germany, maybe it's a wise decision to be open-minded and accept the fact that sometimes things here might be different from where you're coming from. After all, isn't that one of the reasons why we travel? We see how places are similar or different to home. And if things are different, I am confident that embracing the differences will make your visit more enjoyable than fighting it by complaining about it.

The thing is, I appreciate the fact that our guest was making the effort to see the world. That is definitely a positive thing in my opinion. But when I hear semi-constantly that things here in Germany "are bad" compared to Israel, that Israeli airlines would never get delayed, that paying in Israel is so easy because you can use your credit card all over the place and everyone knows how to tip, and that living in Israel is great because nobody cares if you make noise, then at some point that becomes irritating. I just hope that he travels to more places, so that he can see that the world is a varied place, that there are many ways to do things in the world, and that his method isn't the only one method possible that is out there.

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