Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Prompted by a blog from a classmate who is ending her time studying in Spain soon, I decided to do my own version or her recent post which can be found here. She began by saying: "You can never truly appreciate your country until you leave it for a significant amount of time. This is how I feel. There were things about the US that I didn´t even know I loved until I didn´t have them any more." I'm feeling the same sentiment while living in Germany, but my time here is just beginning it seems. I also made a post about some of the differences here.

So, here's a basic list that will probably grow over time of the differences I see between America and Germany. Not all of these items are bad differences, but it does seem that these ones are having the most impact on my life right now, generally in a negative way. 
  1. Germans are ALWAYS punctual
  2. Germans are very private
  3. Germans can be some of your best friends once they open up
  4. Germans have fairly good customer service, especially in restaurants
  5. There is no such thing as a free refill in Germany
  6. It is rare, but sometimes there's free water, usually you have to pay though
  7. It is acceptable to smoke nearly wherever you want in Germany, however, they did pass a similar law as in the US to prohibit smoking in the workforce and in restaurants
  8. Most restaurants have a 'smoking room' still that is blocked off by doors.
  9. No matter where you go, you can find a German smoking
  10. Air conditioning is not common in a lot of buildings
  11. Trash is always all over the street and parks but there are people who drive around in carts and pick it up
  12. Drinking is a daily activity
  13. There's always fresh bread and a bakery on nearly every corner
  14. McDonald's and Burger King are just as popular here, if not more so, than in the US
  15. For a lot of Germans, breakfast is just coffee
  16. There is no concept of personal space here in Germany, I think this is a European thing
  17. Stores in Germany close at 6 PM at the latest though you can sometimes find a store open until 8 PM but they're rare
  18. Religion is very important in Germany and work is prohibited on Sundays
  19. To be prepared for the weekend, you must complete your shopping before 6 PM on Friday
  20. Pedestrians truly have the right of way in Germany
  21. There's always bikes, every city has them, and it is common for you to see all types of people on a bike
  22. French fries and bratwurst are very common, every festival has them
  23. Graffiti is everywhere and a lot of it is in English
  24. Mayo goes on everything
  25. Ketchup for your fries is curry flavored
  26. Mustard is only used on meat
  27. Potato chips aren't available in 'normal' American plain flavor, it's Curry, BBQ, or sometimes Sour Cream and Onion
  28. Potato chips are extremely expensive
  29. American music is popular here, but so is Spanish, Polish, and music from other nationalities
  30. There's laws about when a song can be played due to copyright
  31. YouTube cannot play many American songs because of this law
  32. There is nearly no such thing as a public restroom in Germany the ones that they have you must pay to use and the ones that are free are not a place you want to visit
  33. Shopping bags aren't free, you have to pay for the plastic ones and you have to pay even more for cloth or reusable ones
  34. There are different levels of deposits on bottles for drinks due to the material that it is made of
  35. Bathrooms never have paper towels, and some never have toilet paper
  36. Europe only has roll-on deodorant
  37. You can buy peanut butter but only in very small jars and it doesn't taste nearly like American peanut butter plus it's quite expensive
  38. Eating in a restaurant is quite expensive but buying your own food can be just as bad, especially when you want a 'taste of home'
  39. Germans are obsessed with Americans, they think it's so cool that I'm from the US
  40. The first question I am asked when I say I'm from the US is always, "what's different here than in the US?"
  41. August is officially German Vacation Month, when everyone goes away to wear overcoats on cold Scandinavian beaches and be really excited about it.
  42. Germany uses the 24 hour clock
  43. .............
I hope to revisit this list at least once a month until I leave. I plan to edit it for contradictions I have found and to add differences. Hopefully I can do like my friend leaving Spain and make a final list before I leave.


  1. Note to self: bring toilet paper with me EVERYWHERE on my trip to Germany. :)
    As for "Europe only has roll-on deodorant," that might just be a German thing. I buy a special type of spray deodorant every time I go to London. I even have friends pick some up for me when they're visiting London now.

    1. Some remarks from a German:
      17. Stores close at 6pm maybe in small towns, but generally at 8 or 9pm, depending on state law. Also, stores are open on saturday, just not on sunday.
      35. Not sure which bathrooms you went to, I think i've never seen one totally without toilet paper in 34 years. Obviously expect the bathroom of a nice restaurant to be better maintained than some public toilet.
      36. Ahm...no. At least in Germany, spray deodorant is probably much more popular than roll-on. Literally every supermarket above corner-shop size will have them.

  2. I know Spain only has roll on too. Hmm, I may need to stock up when I'm in London in a few weeks.

  3. You can get Nivea spray deodorant at Boots in England. They used to have this tiny bottle that had a pump spray (non-aerosol) which was great for tucking into a work bag.