Friday, December 14, 2012

Germans Wonder Why Americans Think of Bavaria When They Think of Germany


One baffling thing about Germans is that 90% of them honestly wonder why Americans immediately think of Bavaria as soon as Germany is mentioned. The remaining 10% are all Bavarian.

Germans, try this experiment with me: Picture a stereotypical Bavarian. OK, done? Let me guess, you thought of either a girl wearing a
dirndl or some dude with a huge mustache wearing lederhosen. Now think of a stereotypical German from Hessen. You can’t and neither can we.

Americans are not the least bit ashamed to ignore the rest of Germany, because Bavaria is exactly what we are looking for. We come to Europe to see old stuff. In Munich we can see buildings that are nearly 60 years old. We read the same fairy tales as you growing up (ok, well our fairy tales edit out all the really creepy stuff you’ve got) and we want see a real castle that makes us think those fairy tales could have really happened. Neuschwanstein gives us that hope.

But most importantly, we don’t have the time to learn the culture and pick up on subtleties, because we only get two weeks of vacation per year. We want stuff that is big and obvious, and Bavaria is pretty much the only place that delivers for us. Americans love big stuff and that’s what Bavaria gives us, beer in one liter mugs, huge pretzels,
haxn, and the Alps.

In my opinion, we love Bavaria, because its Germany’s version of Texas: They’re big. They’re mostly rural. Despite being rural, they’re hotbeds for industry and high tech companies. They’re way down south. People talk with a funny accent there. They remember when they were their own countries and wish they would become their own country again. The rest of the country doesn’t really like them, and the people there don’t really like the rest of the country.

And the best part is that in both Texas and Bavaria, the locals still play dress up in outdated clothing now and then.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Germans have MacGyver-like Abilities in Opening Beer Bottles

Germans hate convenience. Although Germany is generally a cash based society as opposed to America, where we use credit and debit cards for every transaction upwards of $0.49, Germany has no ATMs that you can drive through. In fact the only drive-throughs in all of Germany are called McDrive, yup, McDonald's.

You will also encounter the German hatred of convenience while grocery shopping as you watch the cashier throwing all of your groceries into a big pile, which you have to then bag yourself, while simultaneously trying to pay for them, while a big line of impatient customers are tapping their feet behind you.

The most obvious indication that Germans hate convenience is the fact that they do not have twist-off caps on bottles of beer, like we have had for the last 47 years. Instead Germans must develop new talents in opening their beer, as a bottle opener is not always available.

Here is a partial list of ways Germans can open their bottles:  

The Klassiker: Since 87% of Germans smoke, you have well over a 98% chance in a group of three or more that a cigarette lighter will be available. Using the available cigarette lighter, Germans put a firm grip around the bottleneck with one hand, and use the butt-end of the lighter to pry open the lid with the other hand, using a lever-action, which is intuitive to all Germans, because they are all gear-heads.

Before returning to the States, you should learn this technique, because it will amaze your friends, and it works with twist-offs as well. You can learn to either make the cap fly off into the air for amusement, or just gently pop off to avoid injury.

The Tischler: Never let a German do this on your table or counter-top, but most Germans have the ability to set the lip of cap against a hard 90 degree angled surface with one hand, and bang the bottle with the other to remove the cap. This works only 30% of the time, so you have a 70% chance of a hand injury and/or scratched surface.

The Doppeldeckler: This is a limited use technique, because it requires two bottles. Once they are down to the last beer, Germans have to resort to another strategy. This technique is to flip one bottle into the opposing direction of the other and use one cap to pry the other one off. Despite its limitations this is a stylish, impressive feat.

The Zahnarzt: Young Germans males find a way to open bottles with their teeth. We don’t know how or why, but we recommend you avoid this.
Some smaller German breweries, such as Flensburger, make a very stylish cap that requires you to only push against the cap, and the mechanical mechanism allows the cap to pop out of the bottle, requiring you to neither use the techniques explained above, nor hurt your delicate hands on a twist-off cap; however, since Germans hate convenience, these bottles are very unpopular. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don’t Learn German

Living in Germany is great, and I would recommend it to anyone. Speaking German, on the other hand, is terrible and it should be avoided at all costs. In fact, Mark Twain warned us way back in 1880 in his essay
The Awful German Language not to bother with this language. There are countless reasons not to learn German, so let’s discuss a few:

The German language is, in fact, impossible to learn
unless you begin learning it as a baby. Starting to learn this language is impossible if you start later, because your brain will lack the capacity to learn so many senseless details, such as the different forms of the word "the".
  • You probably know in German there are three different genders der, die, and das. So for every single noun out there, you need to memorize a gender as well (the are some rules for determining gender, but for every rule there are just as many exceptions as examples that fit, so you still have to memorize every single one individually). But you also need to change the article, based on the case that you are using the noun in. Let’s see what this looks like in German:
  • Do you really want to learn a language that has 16 ways to say the word "the"? And it doesn’t stop there, you need to learn 16 ways to say "a" (in English 2), and 32 ways to change adjective endings (in English we have 0). And you want to try to do this in real-time in your head while trying to carry one a conversation… forget about it. 
  • In English, when something is plural we just add "s" to the end. In German you add an "s", an "e", a couple of dots somewhere in the middle, an "er", an "en", or just do nothing at all and the word becomes plural. Also be careful what case you are talking in, because that changes the plural form again, should you use the dative case.
  • For every verb you learn, you must learn to conjugate it for I, you, You, they, he, she, it, and ya’ll. You’ll also need to learn them in present tense, past tense, perfect past tense, and subjunctive. Oh, and having one subjunctive case isn’t good enough for Germans. Germans need two subjunctive cases, because they deem it necessary to designate hearsay grammatically.You will never learn all this, so don’t bother trying.

No matter how good your German gets, most Germans will speak English much better than you can speak German
Let them do the work in learning your language, since they have to do it anyway to talk with the rest of the world. The British have figured out you can live in Germany with no problems without speaking a word of German, so just follow their lead.

Use your lack of German speaking abilities to your advantage in the workforce

For every professional job in Germany, English is a required skill. So by default, any professional working in Germany who doesn’t speak English fluently either lied to get the job and/or is incompetent. Forcing these people to speak in English gives you an unfair edge in order to dominate negotiations. Try negotiating in German and you have the exact opposite situation… don’t set yourself up for a weaker position by learning enough German to get you into trouble.

It makes business meetings more entertaining, because when you show up to the meeting and say you can’t speak German, the meeting has to be conducted in English to accommodate you

This will slow down the pace of the meeting considerably, because you are forcing the majority of the people to speak a foreign language, but Germans love to discuss things so much, that they will take up all the allotted time for the meeting either way. You might as well do this to make it more fun, because it’s really entertaining to watch people who agree with each other fight each other. Since the Germans in the meeting will be so busy trying to figure out how to say what they want to say next in English, they won’t have any chance to pay attention to what the other person is saying, so a heated argument will always ensue, even when the participants completely agree with each other. Sit back, drink some excellent European coffee, eat some Keks and enjoy, cause you wouldn’t be going home soon anyway.

You will never learn how to say / pronounce ö or ü

Germans will change their spelling system as soon as you learn it

By the time you learn the difference between das and daß, daß doesn’t exist anymore, and in its place you have words like Schifffffahrt.

Tokio Hotel records English versions of their songs, so you have that angle covered as well

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mixed Messages on the Motorway

Ah, the world-renown Autobahn. Driving at speeds over 150 mph right next to semis driving 50 mph is quite a rush, and should be on anyone’s to do list when visiting Germany. It’s just a shame the Dutch don’t learn to speed up or get out of the way.

But the lack of a speed limit doesn’t really fit to the German mentality for two reasons.
  • It is quite dangerous. Germans love insurance against unfortunate things from happening to them. Physics says going at an unlimited speed may turn out bad.
  • It is a waste of gas. As you go faster your wind-resistance gets much higher and you waste fuel. Germans are generally very ecologically minded, so you would think that a country that makes you pay a deposit for just about any container that could possibly be recycled
and makes you sort your trash three ways would set speed limits on the Autobahn.  

So what does Germany do instead? They spend money to put up signs to tell you there is no speed limit like this:
[No Limit]

 So you can now drive as fast as you want, but you may soon start noticing signs like this:
That’s the sign telling you that you sure as hell better slow down because if you don't they'll take your photo and you will receive a ticket delivered to your home mailing address for maybe 120 €. If you are feeling like a nice person in this rented car of yours, you will follow that suggestion for the safety of the rest of people on the road and to do your small part for the environment and wallet. But then the weirdest thing Germany does is put up advertising on giant billboards to tell you just how uncool you are if you drive fast.

The worst part of this whole thing aside from being a complete waste of money is having to constantly explain to American colleagues traveling in Germany that the sign is not about what they think it is about.
I guess Daimler, Porsche, VW, BMW, Bosch, and Conti are happy just the way things are.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Germans Eat 1.7 Times Faster Than Americans

Germans are the kings of efficiency and this extends into the realm of eating lunch. If you work at a big company in Germany, you will almost certainly have a cafeteria to eat in which serves up great subsidized meals. Because Germans want to spend as little time as possible at work, they limit their lunch breaks to exactly 45 minutes. That means you have 45 minutes to walk from the office to the cafeteria, get served up a nice meal and a tiny drink with no ice (and no free refills), talk about the latest episode of the emigration reality show, a soccer match, or what would have happened if some battle in a war 95 years ago would have turned out differently. After that you need to return your dishes and take a 10 minute walk the long way back to the office.

When you subtract the walking times and time needed to buy your lunch, you actually only have about 10 minutes to eat your meal while discussing 1 reality show, 1 soccer match, and 1 alternative outcome to a historic event. You as an American cannot pull it off. Do not attempt to participate in the conversation, focus solely on eating as fast as you can. The cards are stacked against you in this for the following 2 reasons:  
  • You likely haven’t mastered the super-efficient German style of eating, whereby you scoop everything onto your fork in your left hand with your knife that’s in your right hand. Maybe you are becoming adept at using the fork with your left hand and are gaining speed, but it won’t be enough.
  • You must constantly try to remember the gender of every noun you want to say, then figure out whether the prepositions you want to use require the accusative, dative, or genitive case. Then you have to match the gender with the case to figure out the needed definite article in a table in your head you learned in German class, and you are almost there. Now you just have to figure out the adjective ending based on the definite article and you have part of the sentence you want to say completed. Now figure out where the verbs go in the sentence, conjugate and you are ready to add your mustard to the conversation. Unfortunately by the time you have your witty sentence about the reality show constructed in your head, the topic has already moved on to the Bundesliga.  

Not only did you not get to say a single word about the first topic, you wasted your first 3 minutes of valuable eating time. You are still working on your soup, while your German colleagues have already finished their Maultaschen and are getting ready to dig into dessert.

Once again its going to be one of those days where the only thing you said all lunch long was
genau one time, and your colleagues are still going to have to wait for the slow American to finish lunch.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Perpetual Handshaking and Timely Greetings

If you are going to work in Germany, get ready to shake the hand of every colleague you have every day. In America, we generally shake hands when first meeting someone, or if we haven’t seen each other in a very long time. Germans on the other hand want to shake hands one time per day.

Sometimes you will forget with which colleagues you have already shaken hands, and you may try to reshake and your colleague will begin to extend his or her hand until the moment of realization that that would be two shakes in one day, and one or both of you must jerk your hand away and exclaim "wir hatten schon!," because shaking hands twice in one day is just as unacceptable as eating two warm meals in one day. 

Oh, if the Germans I work with only knew. Man, I probably have some sort of disease from how many hands I've shaken!

On occasion the German you greet may be unable to offer you his hand because he has them both full, has dirty hands, or is sick (you can tell because they will wear a scarf around their neck, without exception), at which point you will be offered a wrist or an elbow, which you are obliged to awkwardly shake.

If one arrives a little late and it would cause an interruption to make way through the room shaking with each individual, it will suffice to knock on a table. It is understood that you have in this way greeted everyone in the room. You will get bonus points as a German insider if you yell out, "Es gilt", so that everyone knows they have been greeted.

On the subject of greetings, you must always check your watch before offering a greeting, because the standard greeting changes throughout out the day. Of course in the morning you say guten Morgen, but at about 11 a.m. Germans switch it over to mahlzeit or literally translated "meal time". This can extend well into the afternoon until it becomes a more natural guten Tag.

Telling people it is meal time for like 3 hours at midday weird. It should be stopped.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Germans Think They Speak Better English Than They Do

First of all, this is certainly a case of throwing stones in glass houses here, but all Germans make the same mistakes when they speak English, and maybe that's the difference between them learning British English rather than American English but come on... They watch nearly only American programing! Learning these common mistakes will help you communicate though.
First, the most annoying, Germans think Handy means cell phone. Telling them that the word Handy is not English for cell phone will make you endure a horrendous joke about how a Schwäbian guy actually came up with the term. Do not tell them its not called a Handy in English under any circumstance, just know that they are talking about a mobile or cell phone and move on.

Beamer is not a BMW, it is a projector. I see that it's beaming the image onto the wall, but the first time I heard it I was so confused.

Eggzill is a spreadsheet program from Microsoft. *A warning from first hand experience here is in order.* After hearing your German colleagues talk about using Microzoft Vord, Eggzill, and Axis, do not call the other program Microsoft Proyekt, like you think your German colleagues would pronounce it. They will make fun of you for being stupid, if you do.

Actual does not mean actual to a German. To a German actual means current, or up-to-date. For some reason they think aktuell = actual, which gets super annoying, since every German will always make this mistake till they die, no matter how many times you tell them.

Fitness Studio is a gym. Sounds like you’re going to get filmed while you work out, but no worries, it’s just a gym. 
Der Smoking is a tuxedo.

Mobbing gives you the image of an angry mob of 50 people ready to kill you, but in German it is any form of harassment or mistreatment, especially in the work place by coworkers or management.

Informations, trainings, sheeps, etc. Germans have the most annoying habbit of make up plural forms of words you can’t really do that with, which sounds pretty ridiculous.

Lucky means happy to Germans. Kind of weird since most Germans use the word happy now and then, as in "This film is a happy end." By the way Germans, if you are listening, you mean "This movie has a happy ending."

An Oldtimer to a German means a vintage car, not your grandpa. 
A shooting is not what happens on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard once a day; Germans use it to mean a photo shoot or filming. 
Shrimps is the German word for shrimp, even though they could use their own lanuage, the Germans prefer to misuse ours.

A Body bag in Germany is not what the authorities take dead people to the morgue in, but rather a back pack or a fanny pack.

The word funny is misused all too often as well. When a German wants to express how much fun something will be i.e. going to the movies or going to a club, they almost always say "Wow, that would be so funny" when they obviously mean "Wow, that would be so much fun!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

German's are Brutaly Honest

The first thing you need to know about surving amongst Germans is that they are brutally honest. If you are overweight at all, be prepared for 75% of your German friends to remind you of the fact that you are fat at least one time. In fact if you move to Germany, don’t bother buying a bathroom scale, some acquaintance will always let you know if you have gained a pound.

All around the world children say exactly what they are thinking. Eventually children of every other nationality on Earth learn that some things are best kept to yourself. The concept of a "little white lie" just doesn’t exist in German culture. Germans just don’t possess the talent to let you know how they feel in some sugar-coated way. Simply put, Germans are brutally honest, you have to learn to deal with it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Germans Must Eat Exactly One Warm Meal Per Day

I am not sure what would happen to a German if they mistakenly eat two heated meals in one day, but I am sure it would be devastation, because all Germans make sure that they eat exactly one warm meal each 

In fact, if you eat with your colleagues at work in the cafeteria, you can tell which ones are married, because they will grab a salad and a roll, then remind you that they have a wife at home who will cook warmes for them later. Even if the cafeteria is serving their favorite heated dish, he must consider that his wife will cook later, and he cannot break the cardinal rule of never, ever, under any circumstances, eating two meals above room temperature in one calendar day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All Germans are NOT Hitler

The First thing that Americans think of when they think of Germany is World War II and Nazi’s, followed closely by Lederhosen and Beer. The reason why most Americans think of Germany first as a negative thing like Nazi’s is because world war two was one of the only times that America and Germany have had a lot to do with each other until very recently. I have never been so ignorant as to think of Germany only as these stereotypes because my mother is German and I have been to Germany many times.

That’s not to say that if I didn’t have a German mother that I would think of Germans in this way, but many Americans do. I think another reason why Americans view Germans first as Nazis is because in our school system we learn very little about German history (nothing about the kings and queens, the dark ages, only the two world wars). It also doesn’t help that in American films Germans are always portrayed as the bad guy and usually not just as the bad guy but they will portray him as evil and somehow not so right minded as well.

If a Germans is not thought of as a Nazi in America, the only other thing that Germans will be portrayed as are silly people in Lederhosen or Dirndls (not that American's know what that is necessarily) drinking beer at Oktoberfest.

Even If an American has never been to Germany he or she will surely know about German beer and Oktoberfest. The only thing other than World War II that is in American cinema is the stereotype that all Germans wear Lederhosen and are constantly drinking Maß's. Americans don’t always think of Germany as beautiful landscape with grand towns and amazing food, but instead as Oktoberfest and World War II because that’s what most Americans have seen and grown up with in regular American daily life.

Many Americans have no idea of what is happening in the world. The world is so infinitely vast in scope, but Americans tend to remain introverted, and rarely leave their homeland. In America, only a very small percentage of people have a passport, in the rest of the world a passport is almost a necessity for regular business. 

As America increasingly develops interests in the rest of the world through a global economy, why have most American citizens remained so ignorant about the rest of the world? When asking a number of my peers what they thought about Germany, a great number of them responded by saying that they don't like the idea of living under a totalitarian Nazi leader.

When a German hears this, they are appalled at such an accusation. In the past 50 years Germany has developed itself politically into a country that allows even the smallest of political groups to have their share of power in the government. Yet, many people in my generation, the students in America are left believing that Germany is still a nation fettered by totalitarianism; Nazi rule.

Why is it that Americans tend to think of the German's as a group of Nazi's. No one knows for sure, but perhaps popular culture has certainly played a role in this blatantly ignorant assumption that many young Americans make. Perhaps many of the young American's simply read more comic books featuring "Captain America vs. the super-Nazi" than they did their history text books.

Another explanation for this phenomenon is the fact that many young American's may not be able to identify what National Socialism is. As American's come to school, and salute the flag, perhaps they don't know what National Socialism is. After deciding to ask informally around, I was astounded that many students were unable to identify what a Nazi was. Perhaps young American's are only undereducated in this term, and are simply defining all German's as Nazi's because that is what classic media has taught them.

Regardless of the cause, the fact still exists that many young American's think Germany is a nation that practices National Socialism. This is significant because when people do not understand history, then it is bound to repeat itself. If American's are unable to identify a significant part of global history, then they most certainly they would be unable to notice if this particular segment of history had begun to repeat itself...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

German Perceptions of Americans

First, there are the obvious surface impressions of big automobiles, big houses and large buildings that have been confirmed. But many Germans agreed they don't expect Americans to be warm and friendly or engaging. Think "hot shot on wall street", can't even get the time of day from them, that's how we're seen.
Generally speaking, Germans have a positive perception of the U.S. and its citizens. This is mainly based on U.S.-actions after World War II, the sciences, and its economic superpower status. 

Also, almost every German I know wants to see the U.S., at least once. -The 'American Dream' is fed to us as U.S. citizens in history classes but Germany it is still used to show how great of a country we are. 

English is taught as a second language in nearly every Europena country as it'S the international language, but in Germany I was surprised with actually how many people spoke English. Nearly everyone under the age of 50 spoke at least enough English to get by.

U.S. culture is freely available via cable telivision and the Germans soak it up! Though most programs are also translated into German, everyone knows about Jersey Shore.

An American band, in Germany will have people flocking to see them play. A German band, forget it. It is a lot more difficult for German musicians to attract a crowd than for musicians from the U.S., or the UK. 

U.S. books and magazines are sold and read widely. Again, a lot of these are translated but Hollywood is just as important in Germany as it is in the states. Everyone knows about the newest American films and everyone wants to see them.

However, some things are really hard to understand for Germans, such as: the death penalty, prisons, cops, gun control and use... Overall, the respective mentalities are quite different. For example, young Americans are seen as more outgoing and self-confident than their German counterparts. But Germans generally tend to say what they mean, otherwise they would be silent.

Whereas Americans are seen as more evasive about certain matters, but do it very elaborately. If a German invites you to stay at their house, it is serious. If an American invites you, it can be mere politeness. If a German asks how you are, he is really interested. If an American asks how you are, he does not expect to hear anything other than 'fine, thanks'.
Germans feel a little uncomfortable with the ubiquitous displays of patriotism in our schools and in the community, including American flags in each school room and the Pledge of Allegiance, which is said at the beginning of each school day. Patriotism isn't so big in Germany.

Of course, it is easy to generalize people. Every group of people is made up of all kinds of individuals, right? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

What do I Miss From Home?

I love Europe. I really do. So much so that when I finish my studies, there's a good chance of me relocating here, if only temporarily. I love the cafe culture, the wine, the free health care, the liberal attitude towards life, the ability to travel to so many different places cheaply -- it is all great. But there are things about Europe that really bug me too. Things that keep it from being the perfect place while making me realize America, well… it's not the worst thing ever...

Convenience -- Walmart really spoiled me here. At Walmart, you can get anything you want or need 24/7. Nothing is ever really closed in the U.S. but Walmart is always open. It makes life really easy. It’s not like that everywhere in the world but, even when I am home in the states, I like having shops open late or on a Sunday. In Europe, nothing is ever open on Sundays and most stores close around 6 or 7 PM during the week. If you work until 5 PM (which I actually do sometimes...), how am I supposed to get anything done? I like knowing that if I need something, it’s available to me…even on a Sunday. And I especially hate how most museums are closed on Mondays.

Service -- Whenever my European friends talk about their visit to America, they always talk about the service (wherever they go). They can’t believe how friendly the staff can be, how helpful they are, how they keep asking if everything is OK. In Europe, for the most part, service employees are rude. They aren’t personable and they could care less if you need another glass of water, the check, or your room plain sucks. In the U.S., people work on tips and I think that provides an incentive for people to give better service (though, they should get paid a higher base rate in my opinion.) In Europe, they don’t have that incentive -- they get paid the same amount whether they serve ten tables or one table, you have a good dining experience or not, or a good or bad cab ride.

Food -- OK, Europe has amazing food. No doubt about it. I’m not a pastry person but having fresh bread every morning might add a few pounds over time. About 90% of the food in Europe rocks my world. But I’d kill for some good sushi, a BLT, real Chinese food, a good steak, some Cheez-Its, peanut butter cups (with real peanut butter), some good bacon (not the Canadian kind), plain salted potatoe chips, or a sub (Philly style.) America has a much better diversity of food to choose from in any given town and the junk food there is way better. Don't even get me started on the lack of Taco Bell and Wendys resturants here.

Politeness -- Many of my European friends have asked me if there is one real thing I miss from America and while the food is high on the list, I think I miss the politeness the most. Yes, Europeans are friendly -- I’m not here to say the whole continent is filled with rude people -- because it’s not. But my European friends always wonder why people say “how are you?” when they don’t mean it. I think we do. I miss going to a store and the cashier says “hey, how’s it going” or people saying “please and thank you” more. Overall, just being a little more upbeat, even with strangers. Some people have told me that Americans are always so damn chipper and optimistic. I think that’s great! It’s a better outlook to have on life anyways! Moreover, I don’t think saying “how are you?” is insincere. The rules of society say you won’t go into a fifteen minute diatribe about your day but I think people mean it when they ask. It’s just friendly and polite.

No place is perfect and, no matter what, I’ll still move to Europe someday, even is not for an extended or perminent time. And I don’t want every place to be the same -- that would be boring! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things I’ll miss while I’m in Europe.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Things I'm NOT Looking Forward to When Moving Back to the States

Americans are way too sensitive

Sometimes I wonder if political correctness is in our constitution. I find that I have to bite my tongue pretty much all the time, and (more annoyingly) that nobody is ever straight with me.

It seems that speaking your mind to someone is a major taboo. You can’t tell a friend straight when he has fucked up, nobody will ever tell you that you look fat, and there’s way too much emphasism on avoiding the hard truth.

Everything is "awesome"!

I really hate the word awesome. It used to mean "that which inspires awe", but in the states it means nothing! It doesn’t even mean good - it’s just a word – a filler, the likes of "um", "like" or "y’know". 

Too many over-the-top positive adjectives like this get thrown around so much that they really mean nothing.
And when you ask someone "How are you?" the answer will inevitably be "great!" or "fine" even if they are far from it. When people use excessive positivity, it waters down the meaning and those words become neutral.

Smiles mean NOTHING

When I meet Americans abroad, one of their biggest complaints are along the lines of "nobody smiles" "That waitress was so rude to me! She didn't even smile!"

When people smile in Europe it means something. For example, because Germans don’t go around looking like an American toothpaste commercial when I was with them and they smiled, it lit up the room – you know it’s genuine and you can’t help but smile back, because you are genuinely happy. You’ve shared a joke, or a funny story or you are in love etc.

False prices on everything

It’s all one big marketing scam to make people feel like they are paying less. The price you see on a menu is nothing compared to what you’ll actually pay. Apart from tipping, you have to of course pay taxes.

Now taxes are things that you simply have to pay on items you purchase – it’s how governments work all around the world. So why hide it from us? It boggles my mind that places refuse to include the tax in prices. The price they state is pretty much useless. It’s just saying “this is how much we get from what you pay, but you’ll actually pay more”.

Cheesy in-your-face marketing

I feel like scraping out my eyes with toothpicks when I’m forced to endure advertising in America. Make it stop. Most Americans aren’t even aware of it – it’s on all the time so much that it becomes nothing more than background noise. And this means that advertisers have to be even louder to get through to people.


I have become used to watching American shows online with advertising removed or with European advertising inserted.

Holy shit.

Every few minutes you get torn out of the show and bombarded with irrelevant spam, and “awesome” images of people who practically experience orgasms as soon as they buy product X, that is (of course) on special offer just right now. And if it’s anything medical you get a super fast voice spur every kind of medical complaint you can imagine that his product will create as a side-effect. But at least the cheesy model is still happy, so it’s probably not so important.

Idiotic American stereotypes of other countries

Many of us have seen videos online of Americans messing up basic questions of international geography. Point in case.

ID checks & stupid drinking laws

Seriously, I promise I’m not 12. Please let me into the bar!

I’ve even seen 60 year olds get ID’ed in the states. Nowhere else in the world do they ID me now that I’m clearly in my 20's. I find it incredible that our drinking age is 21, but we give 16 year olds licenses to drive cars and you can buy a rifle at age 18. And yet, you can’t walk around outside with an open drink in most states (but apparently putting it in a brown bag while you drink it makes it OK).

Religious Americans

Even if I’m not religious myself, it’s up to everyone to decide what they believe in. I find religious people in Europe to be normal – it’s a spiritual thing, or something they tend to keep to themselves, and are very modern people with a great balance of religion and modernism.

But I can’t stand certain Christian affiliations of religious Americans. It’s Jesus this and Jesus that all the bloody time. You really can’t have a normal conversation with them. It’s in your face religion, and they replace hard science with scripture in the classroom.

A country designed for cars, not humans

One of my biggest issues in the states is how terrible a place it is for pedestrians. It’s the worst place in the entire world to live in if you don’t own a car. And biking isn’t exactly accepted either.

Always in a hurry

So many things in America are rushed far too much my liking. There are obsessions with get-rich-quick and lose-fat-quick schemes, pills that solve all your problems after a single swallow, people cutting to the chase in casual conversations far too quickly. People don’t seem to have the patience to invest time to slowly improve things, unless it involves some kind of monetary investment.