For an American, traveling away from home can be scary. Especially when it’s abroad.
But, truth be told, there is not much to fear, I have here for you the top 10 things us expats must encounter when we enter Deutschland.
1. Personal lives are meant to be personal
Coming from America, the land of excess, personal information sharing is a big subject that’s always coming in plenty. You randomly open up to strangers waiting in line at the grocery store, you start discussing your family life with a bank teller or let your local barista know all the gossip on your recent break up. No no no my friend, not here in Germany. The people here tend to believe in keeping the small talk to a null and sharing is only reserved for family members and certain inner circles.
2. Life has three genders
Get ready to make your dictionary your best friend. In Germany the lovely and simple gender neutral english “the” is replaced by three other articles, der-die-das. Why? because artichokes are feminine, water is definitely neutral and boxes are of course masculine. And the fun doesn’t end there, depending on grammatical situation articles can even change genders. how fun is that??
3. Convience is but a concept
The German lifestyle is one of regulation, routine and leaves not much room for spontaneity. Want to go out with friends? you better plan ahead. Thinking about doing your laundry on a sunday? How dare you. Want a great career?cool, go and get a degree for that specific area and don’t move anywhere else. Everything is very well-organized and there is always a respected place or time. Gone are the days of shopping after 8pm or getting nearly anything done on a sunday.
4.Silence is golden
If Germans were American they would have only one amendment that really matters; the fifth. There is nothing more important than exercising your right to remain silent. While Americans find it a gosh darn shame to waste a perfectly good small talk opportunity, the Germans are more than relieved when you decide to keep a nice stuffy silence going in the local transportation on your morning commute. Be sensible my dears, excessive noise is but a luxury.
5. Everything can be recycled
As I have previously mentioned, Germans love their order. And this trickles down to even the smaller things such as waste. Well, to be honest, in Germany not much is waste because the majority of items can be recycled ( yeehoo!) Glass is organized by colour, plastics are separated, organic waste has a bin of its own, paper, electronics all have their respected areas. Not to mention in every grocery store there is machine where you can exchange your bottles for cash. Recycling is not just a choice but a way of life.
6. Cash is King
Start learning to carry more notes around with you. Most places wont accept cards, regardless if its a debit or credit card. Sometimes the minimums are also a bit high. You cant always rely on cafes, shops or even the ticket machine to take your card. Unlike America, cash is your best bet when out and about.
7. Sparkling drinks are fabulous
The mystery of German fixation on carbonated beverages will always be there. They love it in everything. Water is always bubbly and juice is mixed half and half with this water. If you don’t like the carbonation you must always specify you want still water otherwise you will get sparkling. And sometimes on the occasion there wont be any still water available.
8. Bikes are best friends
Most city infrastructures in Germany are build with their avid cycling citizens in mind. Separate bike lanes and streets are a very popular integration. Opposed to America where our streets are massive and the automotist and cyclists are always in a power struggle. Here there is a leveled order between drivers of all kinds.
9. There is no one stop shop
Grocery store, pharmacy, butcher, baker, candle stick maker. Thats right. Over here along with the rest, everything has its place. Gone are the days of super walmart or Costco. If you want to get your shopping, you must hop around. True you can get a couple standard or prepackaged options at a grocery store.
10. Always test stereotypes
With all of that being said. Germany can come off a certain way, but it does not mean every person you encounter will be the extra replica of your expectations or anything I have written here. In my experience I have been surprised once and a while by the variety. Granted stereotypes exist for a reason, but I can guarantee you there are a lot of very Americanesk Germans out there and very Germanian Americans. In the end its about personal preference I believe. Be open, be yourself and embrace something new.