Germany for Beginners

The following is a list of things I have noticed about Germany and Germans. These are not meant to be mean spirited, we are all a little weird and folk over here are no exception.

  1. Germans have a weird fascination with shaking hands, even if you tell me a lot about your children, your love life and your financial situation, you insist on shaking hands once you leave.
  2. Even on birthdays or as a thank you or smth, try hugging most Germans and they will look freaked out.
  3. In early November it was 24C, the Germans didn’t care, according to the calendar it was autumn and I saw way too many people in hats and scarves.
  4. Rules are not there to be broken. Don’t even think about it.
  5. People in customer service often times don’t seem to be familiar with the stock of their store. Phone company employees try to sell me a new phone every time I come in but if I have any question regarding contract/pay and go options, they say they don’t know and refer me to a customer service hotline.
  6. Bakeries are a part of the lifestyle. Unfortunately they don’t include much fresh bread that smells like fresh bread but rather lots of sweet pastries with strange local names (Zwetschgen Plunder, anyone).
  7. Breakfast includes hot buns, and a table full of meats and cheeses and marmalade and God knows what.
  8. Where the hell is hummus and bagels and why do people look at me funny when I ask them about it?!
  9. Germans will tell you the truth, they will tell you whatever is on their mind, tact is optional.
  10. Political correctness is very important until the first beer.
  11. In fact, Germans love a good discussion; however, they rarely let the other one finish a thought.
  12. Germans are particular about their coffee.
  13. They are also heaps more dramatic than one would think. If things don’t follow rules or go their way, they freak out.
  14. If the car in front of you does not start driving the very second the light turns green, honking vigorously is perfectly acceptable.
  15. Dressing differently than the masses is discouraged, at least here in the south (though I am sure it ain’t that way in Berlin etc).
  16. Strange sense of humour. Sarcasm is either not understood or reflected with such a deadpan delivery that it is impossible to tell if that was supposed to be a joke or not.
  17. Germans will take their dogs into every store, cafe, even most hairdressers and restaurants.
  18. The city knows exactly how many times they have emptied everyone of your garbage cans full of carefully recycled material. They will charge you accordingly.
  19. Why would you do it quickly online if you can also fax it, sign it and then mail it?
  20. Paying by card is still a little frowned upon.
  21. Schorlen. If you can mix perfectly fine juice with sparkly water, why wouldn’t you?!
  22. You get 15 Cent back for recycling yoghurt glasses but no money for wine bottles.
  23. Finding a Hausarzt who takes on new patients is more difficult than finding the meaning of life.
  24. If Germans are entitled to holidays, the project at work will have to wait, holidays come first.
  25. Spending endless hours in a traffic jam on the Autobahn in order to go to a neighboring country with the same climate and rent an OK house and stay there for a long weekend before you track back. A must do activity during time off from work.
  26. Public toilets are surprisingly clean.
  27. Everyone has seen Tatort.
  28. In some states: Besenwirtschaft and Kehrwoche…
  29. There is no minimum wage.
  30. Germans love their Christmas markets.
  31. They seem to have office time and drunk time, very little in between. This can especially be witnessed during carnival, Oktoberfest etc.
  32. The rail service is very expensive and pretty much always late BUT it is a great topic for small talk.
  33. Germans don’t appreciate small talk.
  34. Germans write their Facebook names as some form of their first name, for example “Ant Je” or “Sabi Ne”.
  35. In fact, Germans are seriously worried about Internet privacy and security.
  36. There is a love for giving expensive Christmas presents. It gives them a sense of pride.
  37. Definitely more foreigners than Germans shop at Lidl.
  38. Plastic bags in the supermarket cost money.
  39. But there are plenty of bars where one can smoke (at least in Ba-Wu).
  40. And cigarette vending machines are on every bigger street.
  41. Germans love IKEA. Part of the IKEA experience includes eating a Bratwurst (hotdog) pre-shopping but definitely another snack and a drink post-shopping.
  42. They eat chips with ketchup and mayo at the swimming pool.
  43. Germans are tall.
  44. They are never late. They will look at you as if you killed their dog, even if you are a few minutes late.
  45. Most people own a car or a bike. Not owning either is considered strange.
  46. Germans love their cars; they take care of them and talk about the excellent quality of German cars whenever they can.
  47. Sausages are a part of any given meal. Or every second one, if you watch what you eat. You can buy them at kiosks during breakfast time, even at train stations etc.
  48. Everything is closed on Sundays. And a lot of things close at 1pm on Saturdays. Oh and places like insurance offices and anything to do with the city or the government close at noon even during the week.
  49. The postal office does not sell single envelopes, only packs of 25 and upwards.
  50. Finding an open pharmacy on Saturday afternoon is a joke, unless you have a car and can try to find the location of the emergency pharmacy but you are more likely to find an underground party where Beyonce is playing than that darn pharmacy.
  51. Pharmacists will try and sell you the most expensive option, they won’t even bring out the good stuff if you ask for cheaper options.
  52. Paperwork is a religion.
  53. Bureaucracy is a way of life.
  54. Everything is dubbed. Germans have the strangest “translations” of titles of American films.
  55. Germans have the strongest economy in Europe and they bitch about other countries “doing it wrong”.
  56. Almost everyone speaks good English. They are not amazing but not bad either, very…even.
  57. Their hair always looks like they just stepped out of a hair salon, even on a windy day.
  58. They will NEVER cross the street if the signal is red; in fact they all wait 2-3 seconds after it turns green before they attempt to cross.
  59. Don’t you dare to cut a queue, the Germans behind you will silently curse out your unborn children but won’t actually do anything.
  60. Germans won’t pop down to the corner shop in their slippers and sweats to get some milk. They will not be seen outside looking like a mess. Oh and there are no corner shops.
  61. You get lots of free stuff at German pharmacies. I have not had to pay for tissues, vitamins or lotions since I got here.
  62. Even younger Germans have no shame in going shopping in town with an old lady trolley.
  63. Germans tend to eat either salted or paprika crisps, there is very little available besides these two.

Inspired in part by Liv Hambrett’s list at: http://www.livhambrett.com/everything-i-know-about-germany-germans/what-i-know-about-germans/

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