This article is available as an audio recording:
For the last two years I lived abroad in Vancouver and had not been back to my home country Germany in that time. For my friends I decided to write down my first impressions of being back.
My first few days back in Germany have been rather chill. My parents and my brother greeted me at the airport and we drove to their place. It was already 6 PM and when flying from Vancouver to Germany you lose 9 hours. That feels like a long 39 hour day without any darkness but for everyone else it’s two days.
As the last thing in the day, I made sure to email some application documents to my contact in Berlin for the new apartment.
In the morning I woke up early, which would become a common thing in the following days. Around 6 PM I would get super tired and sleep while being wide awake at 3 AM. Funny enough, that sleep schedule fits neither the sun hours in Germany nor in Vancouver.
On the second day, I recorded the Burnaby Central Railway episode, called my grandparents and went to the market in my parent’s town with the name Greven. Greven is a town with a population of about 37.000. Greven, like most German towns grew historically around a central market place. Most roads wind around this centre. Also common for a market place is the presence of a Catholic church, a water fountain, cobblestone pavement, various cafes with outside seating, regular farmer’s markets and close proximity to the town hall.
Having lived on the West coast of North America for two years makes me think that most things are smaller here. The streets are not as wide as are the cars. Sidewalks are directly next to the street and bicycles have to share the road with cars. At first this looked fairly dangerous but I soon understood that cars are more careful and don’t expect to have priority in traffic. Trees are also a lot smaller here, however, the brick buildings appear to be much bigger. The common two story family home is much bigger in Greven than it is on the West Coast. They are wider, longer and noticably taller. Most of them are three stories with the top one being an attic. They are also completely above ground instead of the lower level being a basement suite. The entrances are at ground level or have just one step instead of a staircase.
The day after, my brother and I visited our grandparents in Coesfeld which is a 45 minute car ride from Greven. The town looks even more shaped by some historical development. Roads are also curved around the central market place, leaving you often no more than 100 meters until your line of sight is blocked by a building. The market place, again, had a water fountain, cobblestone pavement, various cafes with outside seating, the town hall and, to top it off, two churches. We had lunch and walked around town, visiting a few small parks. In the evening I would get tired and my brother drove us home.