Oddly enough, one of the memorable things about my trip to Germany was the number of new drinks I tried. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. It was during my first trip to Europe that I learned to like orange juice, as I was desperately trying to include fruit and vegetables in my diet.
Normal = Water
At home I drink water. Lots of water. I'm the person who the waiter has to come and refill the water glass twice during the course of the meal. Okay, there's soda and orange juice and milk involved during the course of the week as well. But mostly there's water.
If you ask for water in Europe you get a bottle of fizzy stuff that I find repellant. I don't know why the carbonation makes such a difference. I like soda, after all. But ugh. I finally remembered halfway through that you could ask for still water but by that time I'd already been experimental.
I didn't really want to try coffee but I really really needed caffeine when I arrived at the office about 9 am that first strung out and jet lagged day. (For reference, I landed at 7 am and my body thought it was 1 am. Then I needed 2 more hours of travel before I actually arrived in Dueren. With essentially no sleep.)
Enter the pained grimace. Bitter. Bitter. Even with creamer and a bit of sugar. But I rather got used to having a bit in the morning as a pick me up. I even kind of liked what they had in the Cologne hotel. Or maybe the sugar packets were just bigger than the sugar cubes at the Dueren hotel.
The first night I joined a couple colleagues for dinner and they were both having pineapple juice mixed with sparkling water, so I thought I'd give it a try. I rather liked it, but I turned into a sipping person instead of a gulping person.
So one afternoon my colleagues were having tea and offered. So I said, sure, I'd try it. I had no idea there was such a thing as fruit tea but I tried some strawberry and it was quite good. There was still that bitterness in the last swallow, but the fruit flavor in the hot drink worked well. Maybe I'll get around to trying normal tea someday too.
Beer (particularly Kolsch)
Yes, this was new for me. Yes, I sidestepped the whole alcohol experimentation thing in college. I've had wine from time to time and enjoy multiple types, but don't seek it out and slowly consume about a quarter to a third of what my companions are drinking as their main dinner beverage.
A colleague insisted I try Kolsch, the special small brew beer that is only made around Cologne (Koln in German - hence Kolsch) and of which there are 50 or some varieties. So there was alcohol taste plus bitter taste and a bit of something else. I'd had maybe a third of mine when he'd finished off his and couldn't come up with anything other than a feeble "well, it's nice, thank you for the drink." Sigh.
I ended up having a full glass later that evening when I went to dinner at a restaurant. I asked for a Coca-cola Light and the waiter joked with me. "Ah, this is a Bierhaus. We have nothing but BEER!" So I tried again and drank the whole thing during dinner and a bit after.
It imagine it would grow on me, if I continued. I wasn't real impressed with wine either back when I started drinking it. Although if this was the good stuff I'm a little concerned about trying American mass market stuff. Although who knows, that might be more to my taste and my colleague could consider me a heretic!
I don't think I picked up any new habits this time around. (Although I might reach for coffee instead of soda on a long afternoon.) But the entire process was well worth while for two reasons.
I would like to be experimental and adventurous, but follow too many habits and wrap myself too much in the familiar to be comfortable claiming and owning those words. So this was a chance to stretch myself. Yes, I know it's just drinks, but still, it does count because experimental is a habit of its own.
And now when it's time to be sociable I have more options. I've never gotten grief or anything else than a blink when I've ordered water when everyone else is having a beer or a coffee. But now it can be more of a deliberate choice to share or not share since there's not the "never done it before so why start now" thought.