Cultural Observation of the Day #2: Holes

By holes, I mean specifically the holes found on the side of papers in Germany. Also, I should probably have tried to save one cultural observation for tomorrow, to get a sort of routine started, but I was thinking about the spices yesterday and the holes in paper today… plus, I’m sure I’ll notice something else to comment on soon.

One would think that office supplies around world are the same; at least, I think the U.S. supplies are pretty darn good and practical for anyone and I’ve made it through my BA with what the U.S. has to offer. I am especially thinking of the way there’s wide-ruled and college-ruled paper, and how I felt accredited, somehow, when I used college-ruled paper while in college. My writing was always neatly equally measured in height. Then I came to Germany and discovered that everyone writes on graph paper–not just the engineers, but the literature students too. Apparently, the Germans like their writing to be neatly ordered in height and width.

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so much for order. My notes have never been properly orderly.

Had I been more economically enterprising as a youth, I would have imported these notebooks into the States for my Algebra-Calculus classmates. I could have made three dollar profit and still sold the notebooks for less than in the U.S.

As one can see from the picture, the holes are differently numbered and spaced than in the U.S; this particular notebook has four holes in the pages. Sometimes there are two, but usually four.

I bought two of these notebooks during the first week of classes and have been storing all my papers in the notebooks (one for Russian language, one for everything else) for four weeks now. Needless to say, there’s a limit to the practicality of that process. I decided I needed to start storing the papers in a more, shall we say “dignified” (for the paper, I mean) way.

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I tried to take a picture which includes the binder (Ordner), the dividers with their holes (practical in that they can work in any binder in the world), and the TWO-hole-puncher (not three hole, ahem).

Because of the logistics presented by the paper, it would have been silly to try to put them in in my U.S. binder from Office Depot. Instead, I rode by Staples (yep, they’re here too, though surprisingly German-fied by the Advent Calendars scattered all over the store) and picked up a binder (called Ordner since the function is organizing more than binding), some dividers, and a hole-puncher. I wanted to get the fancy brand name one, but my sense and budget told me the Staples version was fine. Good thing that the German staplers are the same as in the U.S., so it was easy to buy replacement staples (at Staples).

Now because of my new binder, I have the imponderable joy of organizing my notes and reading material and putting them on my shelf at the end of the day. Maybe, it’ll be so delightful that I get another binder for my thesis notes!

Now, aren’t you happy you learned something about the differences in school supplies?