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REduce, REuse, REcycle

I know Expat Gone Foreign is supposed to be all about life abroad, learning languages, discovering new cultures and places, and so on. However, we might not have a planet where to do all those marvelous things sooner than we think. The demands of modern society have turned us into frantic zombies who try to get by from one day to the next. This lifestyle comes at a price. Not only is it killing us, but it also has a huge impact on the planet 1Expat Gone Foreign, tXc, Reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink, plastic

I bike past stores, shops and bakeries every morning. Sometimes I count the people I see biking. Sometimes I count the cars that only have one person inside 2. Sometimes I count the people I see holding a disposable cup. Sometimes I have to stop counting to prevent being run over by yet another frantic driver.

Environmental awareness is one of the aspects that I really admire about Germany, yet 320.000 disposable cups are used every hour in this country alone. That makes 2.8 billion cups per year. But it’s not just Germany. Oh, no. The human being is a horrendous creature everywhere on the planet. Worldwide, 500 billion plastic cups are used every year. Yes, that’s one 5 followed by 11 zeros.

Nowadays it’s practically impossible to live without plastic, but we can choose to minimize our hazardous impact. If something can’t be reused, repaired, recycled or repurposed; remove it from your life or at least reduce its consumption. Would you like a drink? Great! Bring your own reusable cup. Or better yet, take a 10 minute-break to clear your head, sit down and enjoy the little pleasures of life.


Someone asked me if there was something about the German language that I found amusing. Well, umlauts are fun. Those two simple dots change a vowel’s pronunciation just by hovering over it. They cause more than a headache to Spanish speakers and take hours of practice to master for anyone who attempts to learn German.  Expat Gone Foreign, tXc, Umlauts, German language, fun, lustige SpracheIf you can’t get the hang of umlauts, here’s the ultimate tip to be able to pronounce them in no time. This strategy helped me as a native Spanish speaker. I’m sure it’d work for Italian and Portuguese people as well. Here we go!

  • Ü (the head-over-heels happy u): put your mouth in “u” position (as if you were going to say /u/) but say /i/ instead.
  • Ö (the flabbergasted o): put your mouth in “o” position but say /e/.
  • Ä (the scared a): put your mouth in “a” position but say /e/.

Easy peasy.

Come to think about it… there’s something inherently disturbing about this drawing. Her face is just… unsettling. What have I done?! I’ve created a monster!