Things I Miss

Part of the expat experience is letting go of the comforts from home and adapting to the new culture in which you are now living. I am trying to embrace that process. This is the first of what I plan on being an ongoing series of posts that I will tag “ThingsIMiss” on the site. Hopefully they will be fun and will provide insight to everyone who asks me about how things are going and how I am adjusting!

So, here we go. Things I miss:

  • Ice.

Why don’t Europeans like ice in their drinks? I am sure I can google for the answer but I don’t feel like it right now. Regardless of why or why not, the bottom line is, they don’t use ice in drinks much here and I miss it. I really miss the automatic ice and water dispenser in my refrigerator door. We don’t have that here. In fact, our refrigerator is really small, and just a fridge. We had to buy  our own freezer. They aren’t a “given” here and are also very small. I guess it’s not just that they don’t use ice, they don’t freeze as much as we do in the U.S. The upside to this is that we are eating a lot of fresh food!

  • Automatic free water and unlimited, free drink refills at restaurants.

In the U.S., free water at restaurants is almost always a given, as are unlimited refills of it and any other non-alcoholic beverage you order. That is not the case here. You have to order water if you want it, and you are buying a bottle of it. If you want more, you buy more. Some extremely touristy restaurants have offered tap water to us, but still for purchase. Same goes for sodas. Most serve you the bottle with a glass, so you buy each serving.

I have been very spoiled by our American ways. I am used to drinking, on average, 24-36 ounces of a beverage with every meal in U.S. restaurants, usually ice water or iced tea. Here, I mostly order water at restaurants, which usually comes in 12 ounce servings, and I have found that most servers don’t come back to check on you as often as they do in the U.S., so the opportunity to order a second drink doesn’t happen much. (I think culturally we are supposed to be more comfortable with flagging them down). So, basically, I am always thirsty. My husband is usually drinking beer, at least with dinner, so he has commented here about how they could’ve made another sale (while he wishes he could have another beer). That said, tipping is not common here, so servers aren’t as concerned about keeping you happy or driving up your bill in order to improve their tips.

One thing that I do enjoy here that we don’t see as much in the U.S. is the prevalence of sparkling, aka bruis water. It is an option everywhere in addition to “still” water and I love it! Something else I love is that in nicer restaurants, when you do order still water, many will bring it to you in a chilled glass bottle to share at the table. Forgiving the lack of ice, a chilled glass bottle is very nice!

  • Iced tea.

Do you sense the theme here? This is just extremely personal, but I grew up drinking iced tea. I prefer it to water. It was my go-to thirst quencher for decades. They just don’t do it right here. If you order iced tea, you get a bottled Lipton product which is not fresh-brewed, is overly sweet, and is slightly carbonated. It’s weird and it’s not right. I miss my unlimited access to good iced tea in restaurants and will just have to make my own for the next three years!

Now I am thirsty and need to go fix a drink. Stay tuned for more “ThingsIMiss” posts that can be found using that tag! Cheers!

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