Quick Note: I wrote this at the end of my post, but I want to say it here as well. Some of these points are a bit cheeky, but I will write a post soon about the funny things that only Americans do (which will parallel the same voice used in this article).
- Efficient Public Transportation
The public transportation system is incredibly efficient in Germany. You can get around the city, state, and even the entire country without a car. To make it easier, all you have to do is download an app and enter your desired destination and it will calculate the route with several options including buses, trains, and other methods of transportation. While a car is the faster way to travel, the public transportation system provides a way to get from here to there at a reasonable price.
- University in Germany Is Basically Free
University is basically free in Germany. You have to pay a few fees, but for example the University of Wuppertal only charges something between 200-700 Euro for an entire semester (I can’t remember the exact price). Moreover, the fees include a free train ticket which allows you to travel within the entire state for free. I went to The Ohio State University and my costs where somewhere around 18-25k a year.
- Delicious Gas Station Food
There aren’t as many fast-food restaurants in Germany. Places like Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and White Castle (which to be honest, I kind of miss) are virtually unheard of here. The three big contenders in Germany are: McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC. However, almost every gas station has freshly-baked rolls, flat-bread sandwiches, sausages, and meat patties (Frikadeller – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frikadeller).
- Cheap Alcohol
The alcohol prices in Germany are so much cheaper. The drinks at the store cost anywhere between 40-70% (a bit of creative estimation) cheaper. Here’s an example of one of my favorite inexpensive bottles of wine – Apothic Red. (USA vs. Germany).
(image source: totalwine.com)
The price is around 18 US dollars in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The price is around 8 euro in Wuppertal, Germany.
Note: As of June, 2017 1 euro equals 1.12 US Dollar.
- You Can Drink EVERYWHERE
In Germany, you can drink alcohol just about anywhere. Germany doesn’t do brown paper bags with alcohol. You can drink on a train, in your car, on the street, or anywhere that normal drinks are allowed. You can even order a cocktail to go and take it with you while you go for a walk downtown.
- The Delicious Bread: Brötchen
I love German bread. The have a special way that they create their rolls, called ‘Brötchen’, which tastes amazing. But aside from the German rolls, all of their bread tastes great – which can be a problem for my waistline!
(Image Source: Wikipedia)
- Germans Are Basically Bilingual
Starting at the age of approximately five, all Germans learn English. Moreover, they often continue their English studies for many years during their school time. While technically speaking most Germans aren’t bilingual, mostly anyone in Germany can speak at least a little English which is very impressive to me.
It reminds me of a joke I once heard:
What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
What do you call someone who speaks one language?
- Work-life balance
Germans are well-known for having a spectacular work-life balance. Americans typically work longer hours, take their work home, and send text messages and emails from their home. Germans do this, but a lot less. They also try to put up more distance between their personal life and their work life.
- Vacation Time
In addition to a respectable work-life balance, Germans also get (at the lowest level/minimum) 24 vacation days per year. Can you imagine starting an entry-level job with 24 vacation days a year? I think I would have gone nuts! (I still would probably go nuts with 24 vacation days a year.)
I know a guy who has a full-time job and takes a full month off in August every year to visit his family in Greece.
- German Innovation and Inventions
Germany is renowned for its industrial contributions. They boast high-quality products, solutions, and innovations. Typically, if I know a product is made in Germany, I know it is a high-quality product. Here are a few examples:
- The Wuppertal Schwebebahn (The World’s Oldest Suspension Railway)
- Identified Alzheimer’s Disease
- Invented the X-Ray Machine
- Invented First Automotive Combustion Engine
I found this list on Wikipedia. You can see the long list here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_German_inventions_and_discoveries
- German Insults
Germans do a lot of things which I consider to be ‘better’ – even their insults tend to string a little bit more. For example, Germans tend to be both direct and very logical. Someone once asked me about the ‘directness’ of Germans. I explained it to the them by comparing a German and American Insult. Here’s what I mean:
American: You are so stupid!
German: You are so stupid and I want to know why! (meaning – please explain to me why you are so stupid. I need to understand this)
- Social System
The social system is Germany is very strong in Germany. There are many ways and opportunities to get help if you find yourself in an unexpected hardship. For example, the unemployment money is higher, they have more affordable subsidized housing, and sick time is given much more freely. In Germany, they say: ‘When you’re sick, you’re sick.’ All you need to do is go to the doctor and the doctor writes a note to your employer explaining that you are sick and are unable to work for such and such amount of days. Moreover, the employer must respect the note and give the sick time as prescribed by the doctor.
- Expressing Anger or Annoyance
As I mentioned earlier, Germans can be incredibly direct and they aren’t afraid to express their feelings of anger or annoyance. If they are unhappy about something that you did, you will know it (more often than not – immediately).
- Faster and Safer Driving
Driver’s school is very expensive in Germany. I have heard amounts that range from 1,500 euro to 3,000 euro. (Thank God I could transfer my American driver’s license!) However, with the price being so high, the training that Germans receive is incredible. I still struggle with the small lanes and parking spaces that seem perfectly normal to the average German.
Moreover, you can drive much faster in Germany. I often drive around 120-140 kilometers per hour on the highway. This is about 80-85 miles per hour. However, there are even some places on the highway (or German Autobahn) where there isn’t a speed limit. You can drive as fast as you want!
I think the highest I ever hit was around 100 miles per hour. It’s harder than you think to drive fast in Germany.
Most of the Germans that I have met or heard about seem to be more frugal than the Americans. I do not think this is because they have less money, but rather because they want to use their money for things that come at higher price-points. Quality seems to be of penultimate importance to my German friends and colleagues. So basically, they don’t hit up a place like Starbucks on the way to work because they have an expensive coffee machine at home.
(Note – I use a place like Starbucks only for an example. Technically speaking, I don’t think a Starbucks with a drive-thru actually exists in Germany.)
- Cultural Awareness
Germans tend to be very aware and cultured. Maybe it’s the school system or the way that the news is presented, I am not sure. But Germans seem to always have a good understanding of what is happening around the world and love to talk about it. They know much about their politics and the politics happening around the globe.
- Personal Image
Personal Image is mega important in Germany (and I mean MEGA). A self-respecting German should NEVER leave the house wearing sweatpants or something that is not stylish. I remember my last flight from Düsseldorf to New York. I could always spot someone who wasn’t from Germany faster than hearing the language – by looking their (sweat)pants.
A self-respecting German should also have their hair well-groomed, their face clean-shaven (or a well-trimmed beard), and wear nice shoes.
Yes, my lovely German friends will judge you on your shoes, which brings me to my next topic.
- Germans Can Be Judgmental
I think of few of my friends here might get a bit angry with me, but here we go…
(I do plan to write a post in the near future about stupid things that only Americans do.)
Germans can, at times, be judgmental. Sometimes the judgement is fair while sometimes it seems to be a bit farfetched. Before I list a few of the expectations and judgements which I think are REDONCULOUS, I should list a few of the reasonable ones first. For example, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect someone to speak (at least a little bit of) the language of the country where they plan to live. I also think it is reasonable to expect someone to adhere to the cultural norms of said country.
However, some of the other judgements passed by Germans seem – at times – crazy! Here is a short list of things that Germans are secretly (or not-so-secretly) judging you on:
- If you wear shorts when it is not that hot out (and cargo shorts are so out of fashion here – but I still love and wear them)
- What kind of shoes you are wearing
- How clean you keep your car
- …and a few other small, but funny things
- Germans Are Masters at Staring
I do not know why this is, but Germans are incredibly gifted at giving long and hard stares at people. While walking down the street it is not uncommon for a German to eye me down – head to foot. It is incredibly awkward sometimes. Sometimes it really makes me feel uncomfortable and I just stare back and give a funny face. They usually turn away at that point.
- Germany Is a Very Green Country
This will come in a future post, but basically Germany is a very green country. They do a lot to protect the environment. They have tax incentives for vehicles that use cleaner energy, a refund system in place for recycling bottles, and generally use cleaner fuels for energy.
- Better Food Regulations
The food quality is much higher in Germany due to higher regulations. Even the food that you find at McDonald’s (of all places) is of higher quality. I remember when I first moved to Germany someone told me that the food at McDonald’s is produced locally and therefore healthier than the US. He said It’s still fattening, but at least it doesn’t have the same chemicals and garbage that you would find back home. I basically replied by saying ‘that’s crap’ and went on to explain that I never eat McDonald’s because it makes me sick for a good 24 hours.
I eventually decided to test it and after eating at McDonald’s, I didn’t get sick. I mean, I felt bloated, but I didn’t have the same “bathroom sickness” that I normally get when I eat at McDonald’s in America.
So there we go! These are the 21 things that I think Germans do better than the Americans. Some of these were a bit cheeky, so I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I will make a post soon about “stupid and funny things that only Americans do”. Because if you can’t laugh at yourself, you aren’t allowed to laugh at anyone else, right? 😊 Thanks for reading my post!
Header Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/7664379976/ Courtesy of Flickr and user fdecomite