My first days in Düsseldorf have passed and I have been carefully observing everything in my new environment. My lifestyle has gone from well-organized home owner to pasta-eating traveller. During the days, I eagerly took in all the information our co-worker gave us, and at nights, I hung out with the two people I know in town. My action radius does not exceed three kilometres but at least I don’t get lost on the way to work anymore and I even found my preferred flower shop already. Here are five observations I have made so far:
1. Lethal lights
If I die in Düsseldorf, it will be because of the traffic lights. I have walked across many different streets in my life, from the US to Sweden, from East Berlin with its special traffic light men to the only traffic light in the village where I grew up. Never have I encountered traffic lights that switch with the speed of those in Düsseldorf. The very moment the cyclist/pedestrian gets a red light, the cars start to drive because they immediately got green. No five seconds of tolerance or anything. This circumstance has made me extra cautious (read: freaking scared) to cross the street. Also, if you stand on a big street that has two traffic lights behind one another, the one farther away will turn green but the one closer to you will not. If you are a Düsseldorf-unexperienced street-crosser, looking too far can thus be fatal. There is also a significant amount of ambulances going on the streets. I am not saying the traffic lights are life-threatening, but when I brought this to the attention of a local yesterday, we already contemplated writing a petition.
2. Friendly, chatty people
The general positive prejudice about people from the Rhine area is that they are friendly, happy folks. When I said I was going to move to Düsseldorf, many Germans told me, “Oh, you’ll fit right in!” (This might be a misconception, I see myself much more as a distant Northerner.) As prejudice often is wrong, I was sceptical to the rumour that Düsseldorf people would be oh-so-happy. But during my first three days (obviously not a real statistic period to judge from), I have observed the majority of sales and service staff being very friendly and willing to chat. It shall be most interesting to see if this trend will continue.
3. I might have to make some German friends
One of the most fun things working in a binational environment is the ease with which people switch languages. At my new job, Swedish and German are spoken and sometimes happily mixed. As the current ratio in our team is two Swedes and one half-German (yes, that’s me), Swedish has come to currently dominate our conversation. That’s lovely but it seems to actually already influence my brain. My mind went blank when I tried to say “frys” and “ihärdig” in German yesterday, and whenever I hear foreign voices in town, my brain wants me to think they speak Swedish. Which they of course do not but my ear picks up even Korean as Viking language. I might have to make a point of hanging out with German people.
4. The Japanese are here
Düsseldorf has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. No one I asked knows why so this is another mystery I want to solve. Even in the short periods that I have spent roaming the city, I have been able to confirm that fact though: there are considerably more Japanese faces between the noble street Königsallee and the Rhine than elsewhere in Germany.
5 The biggest problem about my job might be the heat
So far, I have gotten a very good impression of my co-workers and our office roomies. (We share the office with two other companies.) We even have a traditional fika! The biggest problem at work might actually be the fact that it gets very hot in our rooms. In my head, summer is over because my vacation is over but no, summer in Düsseldorf seems to just have started. And it is a cruelly hot climate they have here! There is already an unpleasant increase in humidity when you compare Sweden and Hamburg but Düsseldorf takes it to a new level. We have a fan in the office that our co-worker said we could use but we decided that we cannot do that before the thermometer hits 30+ because otherwise we won’t have any further levels of escalation if we already use the fan at 28 degrees. Frankly, the situation in my little attic room is much worse. Suggestions for cooling down are happily welcomed in the comment field.