I haven’t written all that much about my Euro-life on this blog (excepting the last post), but there’s one thing I feel the ladies may find amusing, so here goes.
Germans are in general much more comfortable with nudity than Americans. There’s your average beach, for example, where women frequently sunbathe topless, and there’s also FKK (freie Körper Kultur/’free body culture’), which is skinny dipping. (There may be other applications, but mostly I’ve seen the signs describing beaches.) German saunas are also nude experiences, and as far as I know, they’re mostly coed.
This seems to me to be a healthy and good thing and I’ve definitely adapted for the most part. For example, if someone accidentally saw me naked, I would not feel like my privacy had been violated. And instead of rushing to cover up (as if I had done something wrong), I honestly think I would just be like, “OK bye.” This is a very liberating feeling.
All the same, I did not land in Germany and adjust immediately. That doesn’t mean my adjustment didn’t have to happen in a big hurry.
Ladies, the ultimate in American-to-German culture shock is your first trip to the German gynecologist. Why, you might be asking. I will tell you. There is no privacy robe! Also, there is this weird thing about socks.
Basically, the almost always female nurse practitioner or doctor does your breast exam and your pelvic exam in two phases. For the breast exam, you’ll be topless, and for the pelvic exam, you’ll be bottomless.
Except for your socks.
Why are socks so important? Basically, when I realized there would be no privacy robe, American me was like oooo-kay, but then I took a deep breath and told myself, you know, when in Rome. That sort of thing. Also, what else would I have done? So I followed the nurse practitioner’s instructions and removed my pants and underwear, but left my socks and top on like she told me to. (Socks, probably because they don't want people spreading their foot fungus and stuff.)
Here’s the thing. Total nudity would have been better. There is no world in which wearing nothing but a shirt and socks in front of a human being you hardly know feels okay. It is just really weird. I felt like a baby who was running around the house having escaped from a diaper change.
Also, doctors don’t leave the room while you undress. This was also true when I had my cancer screening at the dermatologist. I basically just stripped down in front of her. However, in this case, I was also required to remove my socks, so that helped.
All in all, I’m really grateful to live in a country that isn’t so knotted up inside about human bodies. Probably we’ve all heard horror stories about some random guy who whipped it out to pee in a public place and ended up on a sex offender registry. However, this just means re-entry is going to mean reverse culture shock. Fun times!
That is all. Thanks for reading.