15.50 Euros

One of the things I've learned from living in Germany so far is that, as Americans, we often take for granted or just don't know how cheaply we can buy so many things in our country. We have a very high standard of living compared to those in a lot of other countries and I think part of that has to do with being able to buy things so cheaply. I'll give a few examples. I ran out of my Paul Mitchell Awapuhi shampoo and wanted some more. Now, if I was still in the States, I could go to Ulta, and if I hit a sale, could probalby buy two big bottles for $20 or something like that. My parents and I were shopping in Heidelberg and I saw a shampoo store, so I went in to see if they had any. They did, just a 10 oz. bottle and it was 15.50 Euros. In today's rate, that's $19.59. That's expensive for that size, but I bought it because I wanted it, and then thought, I'm gonna have to order it from ulta.com or some beauty supply place in the US that will ship to APO addresses (I know someone who is very unhappy with Sephora, because they will not).

So then, our car ran out of windshield washer fluid. The Germans use some kind of road salt that gets all over your car if the roads are wet at all and necessitates cleaning the windshield every few minutes. Wayne said they were out of windshield washer fluid on the base he went to, and I found they were on the bases I went to also. So, I thought, I'll just stop by a German gas station and pick some up. So, I drove into an Esso station and grabbed the big (5 Liter) bottle of the stuff and took it in to the cashier. Guess how much it was, that's right, 15.50 Euros. $20 for windshield washer fluid! But we needed it, so I got it, and told Wayne to stock up the next time they had it on base. He only bought 2. Guess how much they were on base? $1.95. BIG difference. Possibly the German ones include lots of environmental taxes? It's supposedly a law here that you can't wash your car yourself at home, but I did see a (German-looking) guy doing it when I was on a walk in my village. That's for environmental reasons. But, the car washes are closed on Sundays here, of course, like all the stores, so you really have to plan ahead! So, there's an environmental/consumerism lesson there too. In America, we can get so many things so cheaply that we buy them and then readily discard them when we don't want them anymore. You wouldn't do that so much here.

Actually, it's a lot harder to throw things out here. The black container in the picture above is for regular garbage (not recyclables or compostable materials). For perspective, the brown one next to it is about the size of our garbage container in Lombard, which was taken every week. Here, that small black container is only picked up every other week! The bigger brown one is for compostable things, there's also a separate bag for plastic and aluminum, and another container for paper and cardboard. Then, you separate glass and take that somewhwew else. The size of the garbage container you get is based on the size of your family. Luckily there are separate bags you can get for diapers, or that's all we'd have room to throw out! With parents visiting us for a month at a time each, we're definitely ready for garbage pick up every 2 weeks!
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