This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through that link, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks in advance for your continued support!
Honesty moment: I really miss Germany. Like a “get me on a plane because I want to move back to Germany ASAP” kind of missing it. I realized that even though I left Germany 6 months ago, there are still so many posts on Germany I haven’t published. After talking last week to a German about their lack of dryers in the country (seriously people, one of the best inventions!), I remembered that I hadn’t published one of my lists on German/American differences. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here and here. Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you’d add to this list!
1. Germans always put their picture on their resume. In the USA, it is actually against the law to do that because it could cause discrimination. I have a totally different resume for Germany than for the USA because of all the differences. Germans also put their birth date and martial status on their resume.
2. I’ll be honest, I still get confused between St. Nick, Weihnachtsmann, and Christkind. In the USA, we just have Santa Claus. In Germany, they have up to 3 different Santa Claus figures!
3. To go along with #2, Christmas is celebrated on the night of the 24th in Germany. In the USA, we celebrate it on the morning of the 25th (the anticipation!).
4. On New Year’s, they shoot off fireworks to celebrate the new year. Those displays are similar to July 4th ones in the USA. You don’t really find fireworks in the USA for the new year.
5. If a movie is in a different language in Germany, they will dub the movie instead of adding subtitles. I absolutely hate dubbing!
6. Don’t walk in the bike lane. If you do, you will either be hit by a bike or very sternly yelled at by a German (which is honestly very frightening!)
7. I think I’ve mentioned this before but German men dress so much better than American men. Seriously, they are a stylish bunch!
8. Germans think it is ridiculous how much Americans sue. We sue (or threaten to sue) substantially more than Germans.
9. I’ve corrected a lot of papers for Germans writing in English…and they all make the same grammatical mistakes: super long sentences, wrong preposition usage, and lots of transitional words. Then again, I can’t really judge because I make similar English mistakes writing in German ;)
10. To go along with #9, Germans have some of the best English I’ve ever heard or read. Honestly, some of them speak better English than me! haha, I’m amazed at the level of competency and complexity that they know as a population!
11. Germans don’t chew gum.
12. Germans are inquisitive and blunt about the United States (particularly politics) but they aren’t rude. They are genuinely curious and very willing to learn about American culture. I actually never really realized this until I moved to the United Kingdom. People in the UK are downright rude about the United States without asking questions or even trying to understand our culture.
13. Nudity is commonly seen by children in magazines, newspapers, and on TV. Nudity is super taboo in the United States.
14. Every drink in German is served sparkling, even water! I hated it at first but now don’t mind it.
15. I feel like I won’t be a real German until I own something from Jack Wolfskin.
16. Craftsmanship overall is much better in Germany than the USA.
17. To go along with #16, there are more small companies and family-run businesses in Germany than the USA.
18. Germans might excel in efficiency and order but have absolutely no idea how to properly line up!
19. I hug a lot and it freaks Germans out. They tend to go for a handshake or the kisses on the cheek (Germans do two kisses, one on each side).
20. To go along with #19, Germans can’t handle my level of enthusiasm and excitement. Although let’s be honest, most Americans can’t handle it either. haha. Germans are much more reserved with emotions…and I’m not.
21. While Germans are inquisitive and blunt about American culture, they still believe all the American stereotypes. Probably doesn’t help that I was a cheerleader and in a sorority. Pretty much a walking American stereotype haha. It is funny to talk to them about it and dispel some of the beliefs associated with the stereotypes (and no, my sorority did not have pillow fights in just our bras and underwear!)
22. I find Germans are much more respectful of women and the equality of women. I’ve always struggled, even more so recently in business school, with being disrespected because I’m a) a woman b) a young woman (who looks closer to 18 than 25) and c) I’m considered “girly.” Men in Germany were always much more impressed with my educational background, my experience, etc. and genuinely interested in my goals and aspirations. Men in the USA tend to either be intimidated by my background or make derogatory remarks about how I’ll never achieve my political goals (FYI, these disrepectful remarks motivate me even more so thanks)
23. If Germans need a new word, they just combine multiple other words together to make a new word. Hence why German words are a million letters long!
24. Crutches in Germany are different than crutches in the USA. They go around your wrists instead of under your arms!
25. Learning how to ride a bike in Germany is totally different than in the USA. German kids are given bikes in which they push themselves along with their feet. They look like this. In contrast, kids in the USA start by having training wheels. My future children will most definitely have a German bike for the selfish purpose of watching them look absolutely adorable.
26. Oh man, relationships in Germany. Where do I even begin? First, casual dating/hook-up culture isn’t as prevalent in Germany as it is in the USA. If Germans get into relationships, it goes from 0 to 100 in like a few weeks. And then Germans stay in relationships FOREVER. I mean, all my German friends in relationships will probably be in the relationship for years and years and years. It is definitely more accepted to have kids out-of-wedlock so couples might have a child or two and then get married. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it still hard for me to ever think of purposely having a child before marriage.
Second, I want to strangle German men. OMG MAKE A MOVE. German men never make a move. Which actually makes me wonder how Germans ever form relationships! hahaha. I used to babysit for a German/American family in Heidelberg. The wife was American and one day she asked me if I was seeing anyone. After answering “no” (cue the sympathy for my non-existent love life), I added, “because you know, German men never make moves!” And she was like, “I had to make the move on my German husband because it was so obvious he liked me but would never say anything.” I’ve had this confirmed by multiple Germans. So German men: thanks for being respectful of women but seriously, make a move!
27. Contrary to the common belief, I find Germans to be extremely friendly and always willing to help!
28. In Germany, it is bad luck to wish someone a “Happy Birthday” before their actual birthday. As a German told me, “What happens if you wish them a Happy Birthday early and then they die before they reach their birthday!” haha
29. I think Germans are always cold. Seriously, they’ll have a jacket or sweater on in summer and I’ll be sweating in my shorts and shirt . I don’t understand it, do Germans and Americans have different body temperatures?
30. Like the rest of the world (besides the USA), Germany uses the metric system. So no, I can’t tell you my weight in kilos, my height in centimeters, or the temperature in Celsius. But I can tell you all of that information in pounds, inches, and Fahrenheit!
31. I’m obsessed with bagels and could only find them in one place in Germany: Munich. Which meant I literally got them shipped to me. And it cost me a fortune! 100% worth it.
Question: What are some German/American differences that you’ve observed? I’d love to here your opinions!