Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Shopping fun

Although I have a few friends here that have offered to take me shopping, until now I've gone it alone due to scheduling conflicts. A few observations on shopping here follow. Some are byproducts of being in a new country. Others reflect adapting to my new "city" lifestyle as opposed to my former "suburban sprawl" lifestyle:

1) Doing any substantial grocery shopping without a car or bicycle is a bit painful - literally. I knew this from when I lived in London, but after my first grocery run to the Albert Hjein I think my arms were 3 inches longer due to the weight of the canned goods and liquids.

2) Reading ingredient lables is a guessing game. I've learned that "kip" is chicken -and that nutrition labels are based on a standard 100 gram serving but beyond that, ingredient lables are a blur since they're not in English. I had to ask my co-workers what meat I was eating on my sandwich yesterday :-)

3) It takes me about 5 times as long to find something - if I can find it at all, and I've realized that branding and packaging play a big role in helping me identify what things are. If things are packaged in the same shape or material as in the US - it's much easier to quickly grasp what's inside. Laundry soap was a cinch to find.
But, when I scan the aisle looking for hand soap in a clear rounded bottle, my eyes skim right over the solid yellow square bottle on the shelf.

4)In addition, things are organized differently. For example - in the US, sugar, flour and seasonings are all in the same "baking" aisle. Here, they're in 3 separate aisles. At least I think they're in separate aisles. I still haven't been able to find flour.

5) There are also fewer options for each type of item. For example - in the US, there might be 5 or 6 choices for hand soap where here there's one, and the spice selection was about 1/3 the size of the selection at Safeway. Maybe this is a byproduct of a compact "city sized" store - but I've been told I need to go to a special spice store for the best selection.

6) Grocery stores don't sell over the counter drugs or prescription drugs. You have to go to a separate store for that.

7) The shops have late openings on Mondays and they're only open from 9-6 Tuesday - Friday. Even the "Safeway like" grocery stores close at 8PM each night. Plus - stores aren't open on Sundays. Sometimes the grocery store will open on a "special Sunday" but in general they're closed.

I just have to do a bit more planning here.

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