Observations on Germany: Part 3

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.

RELATED POST:  Photo Diary: Heidelberg at Night

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!)

RELATED POST:  Photo Diary: Heidelberg at Night

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.

RELATED POST:  Photo Diary: Heidelberg at Night

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!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Love this post! I can relate to so many of them from either living in Sweden, visiting Germany, or having German friends. I think a lot of Euro countries are the same. Especially like you said- people in Germany (and really, throughout Europe) tend to be in relationships forever, have kids, and maybe eventually one day get married after they’ve been together for 20 years. So not my style! As far as the metric system- I got reasonably good at the typically things (i.e., weight, and temps- because I learned how to read the weather in Sweden!) My hubby has told me about the kids bikes in Germany (he lived there for two years) and I totally think it is a better way to learn! Haha we have also said we will be shipping a kids bike from over there for our (one day!) children!

  • Wait, you guys don’t have fireworks on New Year’s?? Consider me mind-blown! I will have to say, though, that I had a bike with training wheels when I was a kid and I think back then many other kids did as well – but I wouldn’t be surprised if things have changed in the twenty years since then! ;) I hope you’re adjusting well to life in Edinburgh, though, I definitely miss you (& Margo!) here in Germany!!

  • Wait, I’m from the U.S. and we’ve always done fireworks on New Year’s! Is it a Texas/Southern thing??? And I agree guys from Europe in general dress better than the ones back home…a suit that actually FITS and is tailored makes a world of difference, ha!

  • These are so great/true!
    I think #8 is so because there are a lot of “false friends” in the German languages; words Germans think would be the same in English because they are pronounced the same in German, like the proposition “bei”. If I had a 20 koruna coin for every time someone said “I stayed by (bei) Anna” (no! you didn’t stay by Anna, you stayed with her! gahhhh)
    I totally miss Germany too… something about it that really just gets under your skin and stays there. I can’t believe I haven’t been in over a year, but pretty stoked the end of the year will be pretty German-heavy. It’s a wonderful place to live/be :)

  • I really liked this post! Sounds like a typical conversation between me (German) and my roommate (USA). I want to clarify though – I don’t know what kind of Germans you got to know, but seriously everyone chews gum all the time. And the Christmas thing, let me tell you: St. Nick comes on the 6th and puts candy in (polished!) boots the kids put in front of their doors) over night. He doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas, it just falls on that date because we celebrate him then. Christkind (Baby Jesus) is more of a southern/Bavarian thing, because people are more religious there in the north. I’m from the north and my grandma from Bavaria always confused me when she asked what the Christkind brought me when I was told it was Santa! Haha. It’s confusing. But Santa is definitely the prominent one in the north, and also commercially used (Christkind almost isn’t).
    That’s that! Totally agree with paper writing. I make the same mistakes. It’s because of our grammar and how we’re taught to write essays (in German) in school.

    I miss Germany too!

  • Always fun to read about cultural differences! In China, there’s a similar superstition about wishing people a happy birthday too early. Ha, and I’m over here like, this whole MONTH’s by birthday celebrate me celebrate me celebrate meeee!!

  • I love this post so much Jordan! Germany and Slovenia are VERY similar. For example, slovenians also go 0 to 100 in relationships, but Slovenians do make the first move (mostly if there is alcohol involved but I guess I told you that story already, hehe). And they are also pretty laid back with having children out of wedlock and never getting married, I have noticed that Miha’s family is an exception in this because his parents, sister, and us are the only ones officially married in the family (Guess it depends on the family values). Whereas in Mexico, that and nudity is also pretty taboo. But in Slovenia they celebrate the Christmas the 25th in the morning, and in Mexico we celebrate from the evening of the 24th. Funny similarities :)

  • Loved reading this!! It’s been a while since I’ve read/made good fun comparisons. Here are my comments from an Aussie point of view (Aussie culture being obviously closer to American culture than German but still with a decent does of European culture thanks to the Monarch.
    4. – We definitely do fireworks on New Years as well. We generally do some a bit earlier at about 8pm for the kids and then the midnight ones as well. Two days there will DEFINITELY be fireworks are NYE and Australia Day (though it’s illegal to sell/buy them so it’s an extravagant show that’s put on). Sometimes fireworks will be on for other various festivals but it’s sporadic. I could hear fireworks tonight from my apartment but had no idea why but presumably some festival (I HATE hearing fireworks and not being able to see them – especially after hearing them every night from my apartment in Nottingham for a month during November for Guy Fawkes).
    5. – I’ve read scholarly articles on this issue as part of my translation studies. A hot topic and I could argue for either side.
    8. – Australians think it’s ridiculous too but we are probably less critical than the Germans. Perhaps it’s the difference in legal cultures?
    9. – This is a major issue that I have translating because obviously English speakers don’t use such long sentences!!
    20. – Can relate. Nor can they deal with my level of familiarity with everyone. It goes even further than having a in/formal you which isn’t in English – in Australia everyone is your mate so it’s even LESS formal than probably in American culture.
    23. – Pain in the absolute ass to translate. I had the word “Speisefisch” on one of my translation exams. How am I meant to make “edible fish” sound natural in English?!!!
    24. – We have both in Oz.
    25. – Also have both of these in Oz but the ones with your feet mainly for toddlers and then progress to training wheels.
    26. – SO MUCH AGREEMENT ON BOTH POINTS!!!
    27. – Absolutely agree!! Had someone on my train from Hamburg to Kiel drive my sister and I (plus luggage) to my friend’s house.

  • I love this! I never caught the two other posts about Germany but I remember how it was from my brief visit in 2013 and I loved Germany!! Also, my recent job put me in touch with a lot of people, including Germans… who are possibly the best people ever haha.

  • So much is true for Iceland as well. I remember the first resume I made and H told me to put my picture on there I couldn’t believe it. And the relationship thing, ya that is a fun one to deal with when you are dating someone with such a different relationship culture than yours!

  • Great list! We really loved Germany too and can’t wait to go back (especially to Munich). #14 is so true and now Wes is addicted to sparkling water which is harder to find here in Canada