Stereotypes are fun, ja

Standard

Germans are neat, always punctual, like bratwurst and sauerkraut and wear their lederhosen even to bed.

Canadians are laid back, peaceful, all love to hunt, wear flannel a lot and say “eh” all the time.

Fun, isn’t it. Anyone who has ever visited my house (without two days notice) will know that I am nowhere near neat. I crave a certain creative chaos when I’m working (and I am always working on something) and my life philosophy is that laundry can wait a day, life can not. But maybe that’s why I don’t fit in? Maybe.

These past days have been filled with farewells. One of my favorite people in the world, I consider her more of a sister than a friend actually, visited me last weekend and in spite of Germany playing the soccer (yawn) we dared to go out and have tons of fun. And yesterday my kid had a farewell party with his kindergarten group, they do that every year to say goodbye to those kids that will go to school. One of the teachers officially announced that we’re moving to Canada because today is his last day and I brought breakfast and cupcakes for everyone (which, apparently, is outrageous in itself). We live in a small town and, seriously, everybody KNEW. And after that announcement, they were flocking to me, asking all kinds of questions and making me wish I had prepared cur cards to just have them read for themselves.

No, we’re not moving to Mallorca. Yes, I actually speak English (a little, as you might have noticed). No, there will be no TV cameras following us around. No, the husband and I didn’t split up because he ran off with some hot Canadian chick (he does however speak fondly of steaks and burgers, I am a little worried).

To understand why I was so, pardon my french, pissed off about it let me explain something. We live in a small village. Everybody knows everything about everyone, or they at least like to think that. And if you haven’t been born and raised here? You are nothing but scum. At first I thought it was because we looked different and don’t exactly partake in local activites like binge-drinking while handling guns, or doing shots with the old ladies from the red cross. But I talked to anothe family yesterday. Sweet people, the dad a hard working man in construction, I could relate. Normal people (aside from a wicked sense of humor). They moved here five years ago and people still don’t talk to them no matter what. I did all kinds of things for the kids, built a doll house for my kid’s group, always volunteered to drive whenever I could, baking, spending hours at bake sales so they could buy new toys, helping set up the annual flea market with my husband, talking to the mayor and city officials about adding another group to the place so all kids had a chance to get a spot, all of that shit. I just don’t want to sit down with people that look down on me anyway and try my best to get their approval. Most likely by buying everybody shots.

Most of these people haven’t even said “Hello” once in three years. And now that they are curious they suddenly can talk? It’s a miracle, ladies and gentlemen!

Other scenario: In ’07 I moved to Canada with my husband. A relatively large town, an apartment building, anonymous or so I thought. Foreign country, foreign everything. We had nothing but two bags of clothes and the first thing we did was buy a bed. Boughtt groceries, hauled them upstairs not even four hours after we received the key. While we looked at the apartment earlier that day we met our future neighbor from across the hall and the landlady told her we had just moved in from Germany. She was over that same day, offering a spare bed and some other things that were just gathering dust at her place, and she wasn’t the only one. We were invited to barbecues, people offered a few very helpful hints (where to buy a car, where we really shouldn’t get our truck fixed because the guy is perpetually drunk and uses duct tape and a hammer…), organized used furniture so we at least had some things, we just felt welcomed. Nobody said anything about my pink hair, about tattoos, about us not being Canadians. Of course I’ve had some less than pleasant encounters over the years, especially while working (and 80% of that? Immigrants from Germany. I am not kidding!). But all in all I can say that country stereotypes have to come from somewhere, because as much as some people would like to deny it, Canadians are friendlier. They are more welcoming. And I don’t think that is a bad thing.

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