Saturday, July 3, 2010

In honor of July 4th, here are the top 5 things I miss about the United States.

#1: The emergency vehicle sirens.

I never expected that this would top the list, but a few weeks ago, when I was in Leipzig, there was a big firetruck parade. Firetrucks from all over the land congregated in the streets and had their sirens on. Almost all of them had the European two-tone siren 4 whole steps apart. And, you know, hearing all of those all the time is cool and all, and watching people cheer whenever the drivers in the parade was pretty sweet, but then...

Yes, a firetruck from the United States, all decked out with the US flag and everything. And when it sounded the wail-siren so familiar to us all, all the Germans cheered, and a tear came to my eye. Never in my life had I heard something so beautiful. And forevermore in the future, when I'm being chased by the police, I'll always pay my respect to that American siren coming closer and closer to haul me off to jail.

However, I really don't think this siren is the most perfect sound for emergency vehicles. Personally, when I'm texting and changing clothes while doing 190 on the interstate without a seatbelt, and I see those blue lights in the rear-view mirror, I'd prefer to hear He's Frank by The BPA feat. Iggy Pop coming from the police car behind me, but I guess that's just a personal preference.

#2. Water that doesn't blow.

Now, I know it's a European thing, and normally, my pretentious, holier-than-thou personality would automatically (although grudgingly on the inside) accept all cool European things, but this is something I just can't accept, no matter how much I try. For those of you who have not tried the water in Europe, please do the following:

1. Get a bathtub
2. Fill the bathtub with regular tap water
3. Have this man bathe in it
4. Read a very depressing book
5. Drop as many Alka-Seltzer tablets in the bathtub as will fit
6. Rub course-grain sand paper all over your body, vigorously
7. Drink the bathwater through a chocolate straw (but don't eat the chocolate)
8. Lose a friend

This is about what it feels like to drink the mineral water in Europe. I've been trying to figure out exactly why they love the stuff for weeks now. It's like, not just carbonated water. It's carbonated water with nightmares added to it.

The nightmare-water should look like this.

Furthermore, the water in this country is extremely expensive. When you go to a restaurant, and the water is more expensive than the alcohol, there is a problem.

Or perhaps not.

#3. Air conditioning.

So I know it's not specifically listed in the Constitution, but I think the phrase "Jeder hat das Recht auf Leben und k├Ârperliche Unversehrtheit. Die Freiheit der Person ist unverletzlich. In diese Rechte darf nur auf Grund eines Gesetzes eingegriffen werden" implies it. When the temperature in the summertime in my room gets to be hot enough that I have to put out small fires with regularity, I think air conditioning is necessary. On the radiator on the wall in my room, there's a knob whose purpose, I think, is to control the temperature. There are the numbers 1-5 on the knob, and I'm pretty sure those control how hot the radiator should get. But to the left of the 1, there is a little snowflake graphic. The natural thing to do would be to turn the knob to the snowflake graphic, right?

This is the point where I would say something really funny that happened when I did that, but the reality is so disappointing that I can't even think of anything funny to say. Nothing happened. It stayed hot, and I continued to have to actively keep my body from melting while working in my room.

#4. People named Hana Kim.

I've noticed that a disproportionately large number of people walking around in Germany are not Hana Kim. There are some wonderful people here, but instead of investing 7+ years of emotions and friendship with them, it sometimes seems easier just to use someone I already have on that level.

 What Germany desperately lacks.
While I love this country, the simple fact that I haven't really been able to go anywhere and just be fat for hours and hours at a time makes me miss that luxury. It seems that there's a certain level of class expected in public in Germany, which is cool and everything, for a while. But there comes a point when all I want to do is drive on up to Dunwoody, hit up Brandywine Court and make pizzas out of solidified hamburger grease. Or watch Futurama until my eyes bleed while drinking various drinks out of the two-liter bottle. Excuse me, out of the 0.53-gallon bottle.  Which brings me to my next point,

#5. The imperial system of measurement.

Yeah, I know it doesn't make a lot of sense that the Americans still use it, and I know it's unnecessarily hard to learn, but I love it. I love being able to say I'm 6'1" tall and not 1.85 meters. Or that I live 5000 miles from Weimar instead of 8200 kilometers. When I'm ordering something to drink and I see listed on the menu that it's 500 mL, I'm reminded of Chem 1310 at Georgia Tech. And while I usually love extrapolating the molality of an acid from a titration curve, a restaurant is simply not the place for that. 

 Not very appetizing.

One other thing I miss a whole lot right now is being at home for the 4th of July. But I suppose that will go away in two days. Hopefully, at least. I don't know. Writing this post made me a little sad. I think I'm gonna go talk to @Joey Slater for a bit. He's a good person to talk to.



  1. It is also impossible to order a cool drink (in an attempt to make of for the lack of air conditioning because there is no ice and the fridges are so eco-friendly (read "shitty") and the air is so hot that drinks are 80 degrees (Celsius) within two minutes of taking them out of the fridge. I haven't been a reasonable temperature in about three weeks.

    And number 2 and 4 are spot on as well. This lady at a restaurant I went to last night gave me ,4 L of mineral wasser mit gas and I felt like I had to drink it and I could feel a little bit of my soul dying with each sip.