German people amaze me every day. I have the feeling that they are some kind of dilatory hippies or modern freethinkers. What I have observed is that there are some notions that would not be acceptable within the conservative Latvians, yet I favour.
The other day I noticed three tramps sitting in the university. They did not harass anybody, they were just sitting there. One of them I have previously noticed because he regularly stands with the students and waits for their fag-ends. The man has no socks in the hot summer days and he feels free to wander around the building and nobody cares if he is there or not. Once early in the morning I even saw him sleeping on a bench with his torn socks smelling quite bad. Anyway, I did not have to stay long in the room, so I didn’t care. I was quite satisfied with him being in a warm room and relaxing before the long day.
Then each and every day I see a young and pregnant girl or a young mother. I say they are young because they look approximately 16-25 years old. The point is that they look so happy, they don’t seem like they are having some kind of problems or difficulties. I suppose that the maternity allowance here is much higher than in Latvia as well. Another thing is that they very often carry their newborn babies in an African style, that is, in their bosoms. I personally would be afraid of carrying a child in that way and sometimes I think they have no air for breathing.
Moreover, children in Germany are very passionate and very extrovert, as we in Latvia would call it — misbehaved. In the tram they scream and run up and dow, change seats and talk to strangers. In kindergartens they shout as swell, and today I even think that someone could easily kidnap a child, but nobody would do that in Germany. Such faithfulness is unknown to me and that is why it scares and confuses me a lot. This, however, leads to questioning myself whether it is good or bad and if I would raise my children in this or another way.
Then as students, or maybe this generation is different, they are surprised when I say I have to pay approximately 1000 EUR in a semester for my studies. For them everyone is able to get at least a Bachelor’s degree, whereas, Master degree is something more ‘middle class’. Moreover, students in Germany are so politically active and they fight for their rights. Some time ago there was a protest against closing a faculty in Dresden for future teachers. I think this is what student committees should largely deal with.
Nevertheless, there is a weird thing I have noticed as well. They are very pedantic, I would even call them ‘anal’. They overdo every tiniest thing, and copy out all the materials even the ones they already have and then put it all together in a colourful folder, that has a nice matching note-book, and in the folder they put all the written pages, ripped out of the notebook, according to sections. In the pages they write very neatly and slowly. They correct all the errors and ugly things, the sam in the planner. However, few times I have noticed their painted nails. The impression is that they have done it with closed eyes. I come to a conclusion that they colour their nails as if they are blind, but write as if their lives depended on it.
And what about the smell?! They smoke all the time, all day, every day, after each lecture and so on, but their clothes smell so strongly of cloth softener. It is like the copulative compound bitter-sweet which is neither sweet nor bitter, it is just a person’s emotional state. Then again, barefoot girls in the lectures, pregnant girls without bras, pierced and tattooed people, drunk people sleeping on the benches in a park, drunk people tanning with out shirts in a park, drinking everywhere, neo Nazis, and radical football fans are nothing unusual in Germany.