A lot of people have expressed interest in the details of daily life here in Germany. While I don’t want to give you a run-down of my day, I will share 40 things that I have discovered in the four months here that are distinctly German.
If you’ve ever lived here and have more to add, feel free to do so in the comment section!
1. Everything is closed on Sundays. I remember my parents talking about America being like this when they were kids, and I can honestly say I really like it. It makes you slow down for a bit, which is rather lovely.
2. Kids walk to school. And by kids I mean 3-4 year olds! It is just safer here I guess, but I’ll never forget the first time I saw it… blew me away!
3. People don’t wear stilettos around. I figured out why when I decided to wear them in Bonn and nearly broke my ankle twice when my heel got caught in between the old stone pavers. 😉
4. Germans recycle everything (see my post from February).
5. The public transport system is amazing. Truly. I can get to anywhere in the country from the stop that is about 20 minutes from our house.
6. You can turn in most water bottles for store credit. Most stores have this nifty bottle disposal thing that will give you a coupon based on how many bottles you recycle.
7. Village festivities are a thing. At least in the area where we live, villages still come together to celebrate, and they really get into it. Village community has to be one of my favorite things about living here.
8. Wine and bottled water are super cheap. Seriously, an excellent bottle of wine can cost as little as 4 euro.
9. People walk a lot. And hike a lot. Technically every path is public, even if it passes across someone’s field or yard.
10. The sun doesn’t really come out for long. Think Seattle, and you’ll have an understanding of the weather.
11. Germans really get into gardening. The amount of veggies that people are able to grow in their gardens blows me away.
12. The autobahn is just as awesome as it sounds. Not going to lie, I passed a Porsche going 120mph the other week. Yes I did.
13. German icecream (and Italian imported icecream) is the best thing you’ll ever taste. End of story.
14. Germans aren’t big into beef or steak (a steak from the grocery store can cost up to $30 easily) but they eat a ton of pork.
15. Germans stare. They just do. It is not meant to be rude, and they’ll almost always smile and nod if you do so first.
16. Germans will not cross the street unless the pedestrian light is green. I’ve seen a group of 20 people stand at a completely dead empty street in downtown Bonn and patiently wait for the little man to turn green before crossing. (P.S. You can always spot the Germans in Spain because they are the only ones who wait.)
17. There is literally a castle in every corner.
18. Germans are very loyal to their local beers. If you don’t order Koelsch in Koeln or Alt in Dusseldorf, you may as well just leave the restaurant. In our region it’s Bitburg beer, just so you’re forewarned if you come.
19. German beds are really low to the ground. I have no idea why, but they are! You can tell they’ve not always been this way, because the beds in antique stores are the normal size.
20. Regular garbage only goes out once a month, so you’d better be sure you’re sorting your trash! Otherwise your can will be full well before it is time to get it emptied.
21. German houses don’t really have doorknobs. They have handles which range from normal to very strange square blocks of metal.
22. The wildflowers in the German countryside are incredible. It seems like as soon as one type dies another starts to bloom. Thankfully we’ve not suffered too much from allergies…yet!
23. Germans go on a lot of holidays. They are one of the strongest economies in the world, and yet they get a three or four day weekend almost every month… coincidence? I think not!
24. Germans stores won’t give you grocery bags unless you buy them. It is awesome not to see plastic bags littering the side of the autobahn, but you can be in trouble if you forget to bring your own!
25. Public restrooms cost about .50 euro… but they’re usually very clean!
26. Smoking is a lot more common here. I think that’s Europe in general, but it was definitely interesting to see.
27. College is free, but it’s not quite what you think. You won’t pay for classes (just about $300 for an enrollment fee) but you won’t have the infrastructure a lot of college students in the US take for granted.
28. Not everyone speaks English! I think this is one of the biggest misunderstandings for Americans moving to Germany. A lot of folks in the big cities do speak English, and most people under the age of 50 have taken English in High School, but that doesn’t mean they’re fluent! It would be like assuming everyone in the US speaks Spanish.
29. German houses are all different colors, shapes and sizes. In the villages around here there a lot of half-timbered ones, but lots of newer ones too. One of my husband’s coworker’s joked that the way Germans decide what to paint their house is that they go to the store and pick out whichever color is on sale. That’s not quite fair I think, but it is true that there are some strange colors on the block! The house across from us is a vivid pink.
30. Most German houses (including ours) don’t have AC, because the summers are so short.
31. There is a (REALLY GOOD) pastry here called a Berliner, so when JFK said his famous line “Ich bin ein Berliner” for all we know he could have been referring to himself as a donut. Just saying.
32. Germans seem to like rock gardens. A lot. For a country that is so green and lush, it still surprises me to see so many gardens full of rocks.
33. Germans vacation in Mallorca like Americans vacation in the Bahamas. Germans get a better deal: Mallorca has castles.
34. There are bakeries (Backerei) on every corner. And they’re all amazing and cheap.
35. It costs around $2000 to get a driver’s license if you’re German.
36. It costs around $1500 to get a hunting license in Germany.
37. When the sun comes out, so do the Germans. It’s always a race to get yard work or a walk in before it starts raining again!
38. There is a certain kind of ice cream here that is shaped like spaghetti noodles.
39. I think I’ve seen a total of two pickup trucks since we moved here. Big change from SC or TX!
40. I really like it here. I’m still adjusting, but I look forward to the next two and a half years and the challenges and adventures they’ll bring. Come and visit any time!