My second week has passed and I still observe everything closely like a foreigner. This is the first part of this week’s observations:
1. The students are rich
Because I find my housing situation desolate, I decided to look at the subtenant market. My case is tricky because I only need a furnished place for some months as I am planning to fully relocate next year. It is the same time that students are away when they go for their exchange winter semester. That’s great, I thought, and looked at three students’ apartments. I am seriously stunned at the size and prize of these apartments. When I was a student, we also paid a rent of 600 euros – for three people. Not for one person that lives on 60 square metres. How do they even afford it? I must suppose that Düsseldorf students are very rich. At least that’s what I thought when I was told, “You know, I don’t have rent out while I am in London, I just think it’s a nice gesture”. Of course.
2. Cycling is ridiculously dangerous
I mentioned the lethal lights before. As I expanded my radius by some kilometres, I only found more dangerous things about cycling in this city. For example the bike lanes that just stop in the middle of the street. Literally. I wanted to take photo evidence but I was too scared I would be run over in the process so you will just have to trust me. All bike lanes are completely randomly arranged, going on the car street, then to the sidewalk for 15 metres to then return to the car’s space to then end in the middle of everything. (Emily, you would be appalled.)
Meanwhile, cars preferably stop on the bike lanes to deliver goods or drop people off. I have never seen so many cars blocking the bikes lanes as in this city, it is truly amazing. And it shows the Green Party has not been in government long enough.
Still, I adhere stubbornly to my bike resolution and I keep telling myself if my ex-co-worker Sarah can get through all of Hamburg by bike, I should manage with a town considerably smaller. I may not be known for bravery but cycling in this city is a brave act.
3. There are churches everywhere and still, I have no orientation
There is an overwhelmingly lot of churches in this town. Churches by the river, churches sandwiched between two regular houses, churches flying lots of flags. Plus several centers for the young Christians. Wikipedia lists 95 Catholic churches alone and I was too lazy to count the dozens of Protestant and free churches. Even though I realize I am now in a very Catholic region (making me totally ordinary after years of my exotic niche existence in the Protestant diaspora), I sincerely wonder if people go to all these many churches. Personally, I am still baffled with the multitude of fanes so that I cannot even decide where to go on Sunday.
St. Andreas [photo Wikimedia]
Usually, churches have an orienting effect on me in cities. “Ah, that’s St. Nikolai, so I am close to the inner city”, I would think in Hamburg. “If I just proceed after Klara church, I’ll be at the Central Station soon”, was my orientation in very early Stockholm days. “I have no idea where I am but I know for sure I live behind the Cathedral”, always led me home at any time in Uppsala. In Düsseldorf now, it’s more like “This is the 12th church I have passed and I still don’t get how I got here”. Yes, orientation days are still continuing…
Tomorrow, I’ll get back to you with some more peculiarities concering the not-so-happy people, a shocking grocery revelation and a topographic adjustment.