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A couple of months ago, I published a list of USA/German differences on my blog. You can view that list here. I was initially inspired by this list. Well, my friends have now gotten on board and we’ve been keeping a running tab on my cell phone (or, as they say in German, my Handy) of other USA/German differences. Enjoy and, as always, please let me know any differences you might have observed!

1. Most men and women wear their wedding bands on their right hand. The engagement ring is sometimes worn on the right hand and sometimes on the left hand (depends on preference, I guess)

2. Most Germans have never heard about The Sound of Music. Ummm, excuse me? This is only my favorite movie of all time!

3. Germans don’t understand my name. “Jordan” isn’t a German name and usually they can’t pronounce/spell it correctly. However, the second half of my name “Beck Wagner” is really German…so Germans get super confused over my name and can’t tell whether I’m German or not :)

4. They don’t use washcloths in Germany.

5. Dryers aren’t super common here and if someone does own a dryer, it doesn’t fully dry the clothes (don’t ask why). Therefore, if I need something to wear and it is dirty, I have to prepare a few days in advance in order to give it enough time to dry.

6. They don’t use checks at all in Germany and think it is ridiculous that Americans still use them. Everything is transferred electronically

7. Germans use cutlery very different than Americans. As a right-handed person, I cut my meat with my knife in my right hand and the fork in my left hand. I then switch my knife and fork so I’m eating my meat (with my fork) with my right hand. Confusing, right? A right-handed German would cut their meat with the knife in their right hand and fork in their left hand…and would eat their meat with their left hand (fork still in it). Makes more sense!

8. Attention women: always bring your own tampons to Germany. They suck here and the first time I came to Germany, I called my Mom and made her send me multiple boxes of USA tampons.

9. Travel prices overall are much lower in Germany…especially between countries. That being said, Deutsche Bahn is still pretty expensive!

Observations on Germany via Wayfaring With Wagner10. There is no minimum wage in Germany. Surprised? I was. There is a lot of political debate surrounding that right now and many people want to implement a minimum wage. (update: a minimum wage was implemented in 2015)

11. People need to stop wearing black tights with jean shorts. It doesn’t look good, ever!

12. German men and women all have the coolest glasses. Seriously, I just want to marry a German man who wears cool glasses.

13. The profession of being a Waiter/Waitress is much more respected in Germany. They get paid much better than their USA equivalents. Tipping is expected, at most, to be 10% because they earn such higher wages than Americans.

14. Beds, overall, are much lower here. I also have an insanely high bed at home with multiple mattresses!

15. Uni fees, per semester, are about 150 Euros (at least in my German state). It’s really nice!

16. In the USA, most individuals don’t eat until everyone has been served or all the dishes have arrived. In Germany, people start eating when the food arrives. As a German told me, “Why would you let your food get cold?!”

17. No one wears sweatpants to class in Germany and they think it is super weird that Americans regularly wear sweatpants to class. In general, Germans my age dress up much more than Americans my age.

18. At the end of each class, students in Germany knock on their desks. It is a sign of respect and a way to say “thank you” to the Professor for their lecture.

19. Germans don’t celebrate their birthdays early. It is considered bad luck!

Observations on Germany via Wayfaring With Wagner20. Kids as young at 7 or 8 regularly ride public transportation alone in Germany. The first time I saw this, I was a bit shocked but it makes sense because they don’t have school buses (in general). These kids are whizzes at navigating public transportation.

21. In the USA, we censor TV for nudity, sex, and swear words. In Germany, they censor much more for violence.

22. Germans tend to say (when speaking in English), “I twittered this” instead of “I tweeted this” because the verb for “to tweet” in German is “twittern.” Confusing, right?

23. Germans don’t count the ground floor as the first floor. So if you live on a German third floor, you live on an American fourth floor. And yes, I live on a German third floor. with no elevator. and 70 stairs (I counted).

24. Germans commonly blow their nose in public (and loudly) and it is seen as normal. Americans tend to be much more “secretive” about blowing their noses. haha

25. According to my German friend, she says that Americans are much more vocal in class on their opinions and we aren’t afraid to state them.

26. This same friend (who is female) said that American girls are much more likely to wear a headband or put their hair into a bun. Germans tend to wear their hair down much more than Americans :)

27. American professors are very warm and friendly compared to German professors. It is unusual to become close to a German professor while students and professors in the USA have much more casual and friendly relationships.


  1. Some points here I didn’t even think about until you mentioned them, haha! I used to waitress here in Berlin, but sadly didn’t get the ‘much higher wages than in the US’ :(

  2. ifs ands & butts Reply

    Gosh I have thought so many of these things a million times, but I never write them down. I restock on tampons every single time I am home :) Costco-sized boxes paha

  3. I like! But my mom has a dryer and it dries my clothes entirely – in the shortest time!! Plus #8 is just hilarious :D

  4. Grüße!
    That is not true at all. Most of my German relatives use washcloths. I do not use one. Maybe it’s a new thing with the younger generation there?
    Actually dryers are common in the more modern areas and buildings. You wouldn’t want to carry up a dryer in a building with no elevator.
    Another difference is in restaurants they do not automatically serve water. Whereas in U.S. restaurants usually each person gets a glass of water or there is a carafe of water available.

    I also use cutlery the same way but that’s just because I’m part German. People always comment on it when they notice the way I eat.

  5. Pingback: Observations on the USA (by the German Boyfriend!) - Wayfaring With Wagner

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