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Oktoberfest 2017 Rides, Tents, and History

This is a post about Oktoberfest 2017. I visited Oktoberfest three years ago, but the information is about the Oktoberfest 2017 with costs, tents, history, and a little bit of my opinions on the price and experience. I hope you enjoy this article! If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading my blog!

Images courtesy of Fickr – Creative Commons – Users: “Barbara Ann Spengler” “moarplease” “Raging Wire” “Ana Emília Carneiro Martins

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is an event that takes place in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is a 16-18 day folk festival with more than six million people around the world attending the event every year. During the event, a lot of Oktoberfest beers are consumed. For example, in 2013 over 7.7 million liters were served. Visitors who attend Oktoberfest enjoy amusement rides, sidestalls, games, and typically visit one of the Oktoberfest beer tents.

How did Oktoberfest come to be?

The first Oktoberfest took place on October 12, 1810 where the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. They put on a grand ceremony in the city of Munich for their wedding which involved the local “commoners”. According to a few sources I found online (Today I Found Out), an estimated 40,000 Bavarian citizens showed up ready to partake in the celebrations. The celebration was big! There was feasting, drinking, dancing and horse races. The party had such a huge effect that they ended up naming the meadow outside of the city gates “Theresienwiese” which is now known today as “Wies’n” – where the Oktoberfest of today takes place.

Why do so many people still travel to Munich for Oktoberfest?

According the statistics posted from Oktoberfest.net, the approximate amount of visitors total around 7,200,000.  Moreover, Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world. What makes it so fun? Well, first, let’s look at the size – it’s about 420,000 m2 which is close to 103 acres or .16 of a mile. Moreover, there is a lot to see and do there. Many people enjoy wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl while enjoying the beer. But there is so much more to see and do! For example, there are stands where you can play games, enjoy classic Bavarian food, amusement park rides (one even lasting somewhere around 3 minutes), and games. The social setting is also very comfortable with people gathering around a large table from all over the world. It’s very international!

What is Lederhosen and Dirndl? Why do so many people wear them for Oktoberfest?

A lot of people that I know from back “home” tend to think that Lederhosen and Dirndl are the common clothing attire for people in Germany. This is a common misconception. Firstly, they are mostly a Bavarian tradition (from the German state Bavaria), and they still aren’t worn on a daily basis. In fact, they are mostly worn for beer festivals and on occasion, weddings. The “costume” (Lederhosen and Dirndl) is actually called “Tracht”. The Tracht tradition dates back to 1626 when the Bavarian Prince Elector Maximilian I established a dress code based on people’s rank in society. The dress code was divided into seven groups – common peasants, common townspeople, merchants, traders, minor aristocracy, knights and lords. The lowest – common peasants and common townspeople – were not allowed to wear special garments. Tracht is now worn leisurely throughout Bavaria – especially at large events such as Oktoberfest.
Special thanks to the Young Germany Blog for the information!

At Oktoberfest, there are many different “tents” where one can drink beer and partake in the celebrations. What is a tent and what is the difference between the small and big tents?

The word tent comes from the German translation of “Zelt”. While it’s called a tent, it actually looks more like a big house/building (in my opinion). The bigger tents are more for the parties/beer drinking while the smaller tend to be more focused on food and local specialities.

For example, here are some of the things that you can find at the small tents:(Source: Oktoberfest.de)

  • Roasted Duck and Chicken (According to Oktoberfest.de, it’s a tradition and very popular among the locals.)
  • A very interesting tent for veal (seriously, it’s all about veal)
  • A fish house
  • Vension (I think Bavarian’s really love meat and I’m not complaining!)
  • A pastry house
  • Sausage and Chicken
  • A cheese tent
  • …and more! Each tent seems to be a cultural experience. When I went to Oktoberfest, I didn’t really go to any of the small tents. But, I wish that I did!

Now, about the big tents at Oktoberfest:

There are 14 big tents and each hold something like 8,000 or more people (I’m not 100% sure on the exact number – but they are big.)  The general hours tend to be 10-11:30pm during the week with last call at 10:30. On Saturday and Sunday they open a bit earlier and serve later. Now it’s important to note that reservations tend to sell out many months in advance. The reservations are free, but require a voucher to be purchased with a few liters of beer and some food. However, if you don’t have a reservation (which is hard to get), and want a place to sit, you should get there EARLY! For example, if the tent opens at 10, arrive at 9/9:30. I went to Oktoberfest during the week, but I heard that the lines start forming on Saturday at 5am. So, get ready for a long party weekend if you want to go!

Here is some information about the tents from my experience and from another blog I found online. I want to give credit to Big Boy Travel from where I got some of this information! It’s a really cool blog!On their blog, they listed the top 10 tents with great details. Since I’m trying to give a general overview of Oktoberfest, I’m going to talk about only three of the tents.

Hofbräu Tent

This tent was listed as Big Boy Travel’s number 1 pick. It’s an extremely large tent that sells over 550,000 liters of beer during Oktoberfest. Moreover, it has 25-30% of international visitors ranging from British to Americans, Italians to Austrians, and many more! It can be a lot of fun if you are looking for an international experience.

Hacker Tent

This was the tent that I went to. I heard from many people who live in Munich that this is the “hot spot” for the locals. A lot of people want to go to this tent. From my experience, most of the people there were a combination of locals and international visitors. I had a lot of fun there! A cool thing about this tent is on the last day the crowd lights sparklers and the tent goes dim to the sound of Sierra Madre.

Schützen Tent

This tent is unique in that it has the “Wildever Bar” which sells booze, schnapps, red wine, white wine, and champagne! They even sell Vodka-Red Bulls which is pretty much a rarity at Oktoberfest. They also play a mix of German and American classics. This could be an interesting choice if you aren’t a beer drinker. But then again, if you aren’t a beer drinker, maybe this beer festival, I mean folk festival, isn’t for you.

Again, if you want detailed information about the tents at Oktoberfest, check out Big Boy Travel. They have a great article on this!

They have a ton of amusement/attraction events at Oktoberfest. Although, I don’t know if I would mix beer and amusement rides.  However, here we go!

The Oktoberfest Rides and Attractions:

According to Oktoberfest.de, (in 2017) six new rides are making a debut including the XXL Racer, Drifting Coaster (with swinging gondolas), Voodoo Jumper, and a “Märchenlandexpress” which takes you a on magic ride through a fairy tale land.

The classic rides include the following: Power Tower, Alpinabahn, and the Rocket.

The Alpinabahn is an actual roller coaster! We all know the festivals, fairs, and small events that have “roller coasters” which are small and kind of lame. But at Oktoberfest, they have real roller coasters that look fun! I found a video here of the Alpina Bahn from “Theme Park Review”.

The YouTube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5420rjw9pA.

When I visited, I stayed mostly inside a beer tent. I didn’t venture out and test the rides.

The Oktoberfest sidestalls and games:

They have many small stands, booths, games (like pop the air balloon with a dart), snacks, and souvenir stands.

Oktoberfest 2017 Costs:

While all of this looks like a lot of fun, Oktoberfest is expensive! The prices have gone up each year and now if you want to go, you should be ready to spend a good 100-150 euro per day (at the minimum). Here are some of the costs that I have found online.

  • Half of a chicken: 10-11 Euro
  • 2 Sausages: 7.60
  • 1 Slice of Bread with mixed onions and cheese: 11.50
  • Macadamian Nuts: 6.50 for 10 pieces (roasted)
  • Special Noodles with cheese: 12.50
  • 3 Euro for a slice of bread
  • 5 Euro for a slice of bread with butter
  • Cheesecubes 18.20
  • Ice cream bowl: 15 euro
  • 1 Liter of Beer: 10 – 10.90
  • 1 Liter of Water: 11 (More expensive than the beer!)
  • 1 Liter of Lemonade: 10.75
  • Bottle of Sparking Wine: 42 Euro
  • Bottle of Champagne: 139 Euro
  • Interesting Fact: You can buy an XXL Champagne for 15 Liters at 4,400 euro.
  • This actually costs 1,620 more when compared to the price of the bottle.
  • The most expensive roller coaster costs 9 euro per ride. Although, I heard it lasts for three minutes. I think the cheapest ride costs 6 euro.

My Thoughts and Personal Opinions about Oktoberfest 2017

Overall, I have to say that Oktoberfest is a one-of-kind experience with a lot of things to do and see. I loved the cultural experience and opportunity to people from all over the world. It was something that I will never forget! The main picture on my blog comes from my visit to Munich and Oktoberfest. With that being said, I have to say now that I can cross Oktoberfest off my bucket list and probably will not return. I don’t mean this to sound rude or to say anything against Oktoberfest. The reason why I won’t go back isn’t from a bad experience – in fact, it was quite fun! However, there were SOO many people there and I often struggle in large crowds. Moreover, the costs (as you can see above) of Oktoberfest are quite expensive. If you factor in the cost of travel, hotel, food, drinks, etc., I would have to budget a good 700-800 euro for the trip (and I live in Germany!).  I would rather use that money for a trip outside of Germany or wait for other interesting cultural events such as the German Christmas Markets – which I love!

However, if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind cultural experience in Germany, and don’t mind the high prices, then Oktoberfest could be for you!

 

 

 

How-to: Save Money in Germany

savingmoneyingermanytips

How to Save Money In Germany (and still enjoy life!)

Seriously, learn from my mistakes! When I first moved to Germany I signed expensive contracts, bought things that were either too expensive (or too cheap), and basically threw away tons of money that I could have saved. If you follow this guide, you can have fun, save money, and make better financial decisions living in Germany!

Quick Navigation: Save Money in Germany

Make a Cheap Cellphone Contract

Be very careful before you SIGN ANYTHING in Germany.

If take nothing from this blog post, take this! I want to share a quick story. This happened to me about three weeks ago (from the time of writing this post). My doorbell rang and someone came to my door and introduced himself as an employee from a local telephone company provider. He told me that he was part of the service which belonged to the entire building and I should sign his papers because I would save money.  After I told him I didn’t want to sign anything, he got a bit aggressive and angry with me. I finally closed the door on him because I had had enough of his crap. But I have heard that a lot of people from his company (Unity Media) do this sort of thing.  Or what is even worse is that some people impersonate the company in order to get signatures for God only knows what! But anyway – be careful with signing contracts! In fact, I now have a German friend look over EVERY contract I sign before I sign it. I don’t take any chances.

Now for the money-saving tips for making cellphone contracts in Germany. Many providers compete with each other. So it’s extremely important to collect offers before making decisions. These people can be predatory and really try to hook you in with promises of fame and fortune – don’t buy into it.  Go to three or four different providers (they are typically right next to each other in a city center), and then take your top two favorite offers and talk them over with a German friend. If I would have done this in the beginning, I could have saved 600 or more a year.

Also, this might have changed. But the contract could be set up in such a way that if you go over your data, you will automatically get billed for overage costs which can get expensive fast!  Make sure you take this option out of your cellphone contract – In German, it’s called something like: “datenvolumen automatisch erhöhen”. Make sure this doesn’t happen. This is something small, but it cost me a good 30 euro by mistake.

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Shop Around for Gas/Heating and Power Contracts

I recommend using the website www.check24.de. This is a great website that gives you many different offers and comparisons. Moreover, they often have bonuses and incentives for making contracts. One tip that I recommend is taking a contract that is either monthly or for one year. I don’t like contractual commitments in general, so it’s nice to know that I can change it in the future if I find a better deal.

Just a note: I don’t know if this is a general thing, or a thing for my city. But I live in Wuppertal and a lot of people here use one specific supplier – WSW. I looked into WSW and they actually were more much more expensive than the other offers I found. I still don’t understand why they are so popular, but again before you sign a contract or do anything – ask a German friend for help.  There are still things to this day that I don’t understand with energy providers in Germany and I often refer to my friends for advice.

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Buy Food at Discount Stores

The discount grocery stores in Germany (ALDI, LIDL, PENNY, NETTO) have good food. In fact, the meat at LIDL is quite good! Sometimes the vegetables might be a bit old, so you should always double check them (but I’m pretty sure everyone typically does this anyway). A lot of people I know go grocery shopping twice. They buy food at a discount store and then go to a more expensive store to buy things like vegetables or harder to find items because the selection is greater.

My personal favorite discount store is Aldi, but LIDL is also great for buying meat.  A few things that I always buy from Aldi are: Protein Bread (“Eiweiß Brot”), Eggs, Water, Coke Zero, Lunch Meat, Cheese, Salads, and Mixed Peppers. They also have sweet potatoes at great price points which I love!

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Evaluate your Travel Costs and Expenses

In Germany, there are SOO many ways to get around! You can take a bus, a train, a really fast train, go by bike, by car, or just simply walk! When I first moved to Germany, I threw away so much money by buying an old car that required a lot of repairs and used soo much gas! Moreover, I also had a bus ticket. I was paying WAYY too much! Here are a few tips that have helped me reduce my travel expenses.

Calculate your routes. How many kilometers do you need to drive? Is it possible (and comfortable) to use a bus and/or train? How much time would that take? It could be that a route by car that would normally take 30 minutes could take more than an hour by public transport – (not worth it to me).  If the public transport is possible, find out how much a monthly ticket costs.

Consider car sharing. Germany has many car-sharing programs. I have a car, but I still pay 3 euro a month for car sharing in the event that I need to use a bigger car for transport purposes. I use Cambio Car Sharing, but there are so many different programs. You could also combine car sharing with a bike. I know many people who do that and save big!

Consider car leasing. I currently lease a car and LOVE it. I purchased an inexpensive Volkswagen “Up!” customized with a special gas that costs me only 50-60 euro a month for fill-ups. Moreover, with 20,000 kilometers a year, full and liability insurances, I pay less than 300 a month. This way, I don’t have to worry about any repairs and I can give the car back in two years and additionally use it as a tax write-off because I am self-employed. For me, this is a good solution.

Just to recap – In Germany, there are MANY ways to get from here to there. Ask friends, check out the options and find something that is right for you! Just make sure you do your research before signing ANY contracts!

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Find Festivals

In Germany, there are many free festivals. These are great way to meet up with your friends and listen to live music (which is often sung in English!). The only thing to note is while the music is often free, the drinks and food can be more expensive than normal.

Also, you can Google your city and often find local events.

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Prepare Food and Drinks in Advance

This is really a good tip for saving money in general. I meal prep all the time because it not only saves money but helps me manage my weight and save time. Here are a few cheap and healthy meals you can prepare to save both time and money:

  • Chili
  • Salad
  • Soups/Stews
  • Baked Veggies and Chicken (this great for making “food-packs” to take with you for a lunch break)

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Community Housing/Shared Apartments

I’m actually not sure of the proper name, but in Germany there are “Wohnungsgemeinschafts” where small groups of 2-4 people live together to save money. This is typically for younger folks who are often students, but adults do this here as well. Moreover, another advantage to shared housing is that you can easily find one that is pretty much fully-furnished. This is a great way to not only meet people, but to get started in Germany. However, I do have to caution you, be careful – you are moving in with strangers. So make you sure you take time to get to know them before you move in. Talk to them, find out if they are friendly, what they do for a living, if they are open-minded and ask them about any “house rules” that might be there.  It could be helpful to find out if they speak English in case your German needs some work. I have heard mixed experiences about doing this.

Wg-Gesucht.de” is a good website for finding shared apartments in Germany. They also have the option to view it in English.

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Find Community Groups and Take Advantage of Classifieds

When I first moved to Wuppertal (in Germany), I searched on Facebook for “Wuppertal”. I wanted to see what kind of things I could find. By doing this search, I found many communities where people ask questions, get feedback, and post items for sale. I have even purchased a few things from one of my groups. I would highly recommend doing this! While I post in German, if you live in a big city and say something like “I’m sorry, I’m new here and don’t speak German very well…..”, you will probably get a reply or two in English. Most Germans speak at least a little English.  You could also ask a German friend to write for you.

I would also highly recommend the “Amazon Ebay Kleinanzeigen”, or what I like to call the “German Craigslist”.  You can find many offers, deals, trades, and more on this website. I would highly recommend checking it out! I have purchased several things on this website and have heard many good things about it from my German friends.

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Dining Out on a Budget

Generally speaking the restaurants in Germany are not too terribly expensive. The average cost of a meal with drinks costs around 20 euro.  Remember – tipping here is quite different. The servers earn a higher salary and therefore it is customary to tip only a couple of euro.

However, outside of the restaurants, the food at Turkish restaurants is extremely cheap. You can find tasty meals for 4-7 euro (including a drink). If you haven’t tried Döner yet, I would highly recommend it!

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German Quality vs. Everything Else

Growing up, my mom would always say: You get what you pay for. This is pretty much the law of the land here in Germany. On one hand, it is nice because you have a lot of control over what you purchase, but on the other hand, if you are new to Germany, you could either be paying way too much or way too little. I’ll explain what I mean.

When you walk down a street in the center of a large city, you will find many stores and shops literally right next to each other. They might all sell similar products, but the question is where should you buy them?

Well, in Germany there are many discount stores (more details below): Tedi, Lidl, Kodi, and KiK are a few that I know of. There are a few things that I would consider buying from them, but quite often the quality is really bad so you could end up paying more in the long run.  If you are in a pinch and need some silverware, glasses, plates, etc., and need to save money then go to Kodi. I personally think Kodi is the best of all them.

Occasionally, there are even cheaper stores that you might find in the city. For example, I found one store with really cheap things that was clearly not a German business. Unless you want to buy something as a joke gift or something funny, never go to these shops. Once I bought a pair of headphones and they literally broke five minutes later (and getting a refund at that point would not have been impossible since I had opened them). Basically, if you need to save money, I would once again recommend Kodi.

Now, if you want to invest in high-quality products, anything with a “Made in Germany” sticker will last you a long time. You pay a more at first, but save in the long run. I usually ask around for something that is in the middle. Other good places to shop for medium-level quality things include: POCO (for furniture, kitchens, and household things) and REAL (for food – medium price range huge selection).

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Discount Stores

I mentioned discount stores above. I wanted to elaborate on this some more. When you first moved to Germany, chances are that you have a big start-up cost. It could even be that you have to purchase an ENTIRE kitchen for your flat/apartment. So how can someone have a good start in Germany without breaking their bank account? Here are a few tips of where you can go for cheap things (and where I think you shouldn’t go).

  • Kodi: Plates, Glasses, Silverware, a few appliances but check them out closely first. Stores like Saturn and Media Markt also sell appliances and the difference of 10-15 euro could make a huge difference later!
  • Woolworth: This is typically hit or miss. I would recommend going there once just to look around and to get a feel for it. I have bought batteries and a few decorations for themed parties there.
  • Teddox and POCO: These are great places for household items and supplies. You can buy things like carpet, wood, tools, flooring, etc.,
  • IKEA: The stuff here isn’t too expensive either (check them out online first). I just don’t go there often enough to comment because the size of it drives me crazy (fun fact about me: I don’t like shopping.)
  • Places you should NOT go to:
    • Any store that is in the city and looks “cheap”. I know my tip is extremely generic, but trust me on this. You will occasionally see shops that have book bags for 5 euro, headphones for like 2 euro, and random crap (which nobody needs) that is INSANELY cheap. Check it out if you really want, but most everything that you purchase there will break very quickly. Shop at your own risk!
    • One Euro Shops: There are many of these in Germany. They are kind of fun if you want to put together a small package of random things to send to your friends back home. However, if you are looking to buy serious things, avoid these stores.

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Discount Clothing Stores

Similar to what I said about the different quality tiers in Germany, the same thing applies to clothing. There are stores that sell extremely cheap clothes like Primark and KiK. I have purchased a few T-Shirts from Primark that I wear under my clothes and they have held up okay over the last year or so. But the overall quality is pretty bad. I also wouldn’t buy clothes at KiK. I would recommend checking out stores like TK Maxx (TJ Maxx for us Americans), H&M, and C&A for clothes that aren’t too expensive and are okay.

Other than that - just look around and explore! Some stores are more expensive, some stores are designer/name brand, and there are still many that I don’t really understand. Again – I’m not a big shopper.

Update: I forgot to mention shoes. Shoe prices in Germany are not that much different than back home (give or take 10 euro or so). I typically shop at a cheaper store called “Deichmann”, but you can go wherever you want. Just remember with shoes the more you pay, the higher the quality (unless it’s a brand like Nike, Adidas, etc., -- then it’s the name and I think that the quality is pretty much the same everywhere.)

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Additional Tips:

I posted this blog on an online message forum for expats. I asked others who live in Germany for tips on saving money. They posted several good ideas that I would like to share with my visitors.

  • Buy your toiletries (in bulk) at Rossmann, DM or Müller. Pay attention to the weekly sales offers in supermarkets and buy in bulk. Note from Chris: I learned that many toiletry items are cheaper at places like the ones mentioned above (compared to buying them at large grocery stores).
  • Check out offers that come in the mail. When things like canned goods, pasta, chips, etc., go sale, buy them in bulk. Try to spend some time to get a feel for how prices work. This can help you save money in the future.

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Final Tip: Explore and Ask for Help!

Go check out the stores! This is the best way to learn. Don’t immediately start shopping or get advice from only one friend. Ask around and look around!

All of these tips are from my personal experiences living in Germany. Find out what works best for you and do your thing!

I hope these tips help. Do you have any tips? Do you disagree with anything here? Let me know. Thanks!

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10 Things Americans Do Better Than Germans

10 Things Americans Do Better Than Germans

This is a response to an article that I’ve previously written called “20+ Things Germans Do Better”. In the article I listed many serious points that Germans do better with a few cheeky comments here and there. I tried to mirror the same voice with this article.

Wearing Relaxed Clothing
(Hello, Sweatpants!)

sweatpants
(Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons License user @JTouchCo)

Americans pretty much rule the world when it comes to wearing relaxed clothing – specially sweatpants. In Germany, wearing sweatpants in public is a big taboo. However, in America, it’s not that big of a deal.  Here are some places where you can find Americans wearing sweatpants:

  • Coffee shops
  • University classes
  • Sidewalks
  • Arcades
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Airports
  • Shopping malls
  • …and the list goes on (I think you get my point 😉)

Update: A few of my German friends read this and said that it is changing a bit with the younger generation.

Integrated Work and Personal Life


(Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons License user @Infusionsoft Sales Marketing)

In Germany, there is a strong separation of work and personal life. Americans tend to blend that a lot more.  While they tend to work more hours, they often find ways to make their work life more fun. This includes being more conversational with their colleagues, becoming good friends with co-workers, and often doing fun things around the office like small parties, events, etc.,

Small Talk


(Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons License user @Beatrice Murich)

Americans LOVE small-talk. We love to ask questions like “How are you?” “How was your weekend?” “What are you up to?” which really don’t promote long conversations, but rather short and interesting dialogues mostly just to be friendly. Being friendly and polite is very important for Americans (which is often mistaken for being “fake” to Germans)

To further this point, I want to talk about conversations with strangers. For example, almost every time you walk inside a shop, an American will ask you (often quite loudly) “How are you?” “How can I help you today?” or “What brings you to our store? Are you looking for anything in particular?”  For me, I both love and miss this. While many Americans take this for granted and don’t really think twice about it, most Germans that I know find this to be weird. I think this is because in Germany, you don’t really get this, which brings me to my fourth point – customer service.

Customer Service


(Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons License user @Jeff Djevdet)

In the US, we have an expression: The customer is always right. In Germany, they say: “The customer is king.”  While the expressions have a very similar meaning, the execution is often very different in real life. For example, if you are unsatisfied with the food at a restaurant, a recent purchase at a local store, or even a signed contract – there are ways to get refunds, make deals, or at least find a friendly face/voice. In Germany, the rules are – very strictly – the rules. This means that getting refunds without a proper (and TIMELY) receipt is damn near impossible and quite often the customer is not king. In fact, the customer in Germany is quite the opposite being both wrong and a waste of their seemingly important time.  I mean, I can’t remember the last time someone from a customer service department said: “sorry”.

I remember expressing concern about the details of a web hosting contract with a company and the lady on the phone literally said: Man! What do you want me to say to your question!? I can’t answer that! It’s all about the contract.

Lack of Privacy


(Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons License user @Blue Coat Photos)

Many of my students have quite often commented on how Americans share everything online. What they mean is that Americans post quite literally everything online. Sadly, I have to agree. You can virtually stalk almost any American online through social media. Germans, in general, are much more private than the Americans. But to be honest, I still post a lot online!

Propaganda Culture


(Image source: wikipedia)

Americans really boast this idea that you can be whoever you want to be and become whoever you want to become – “The American Dream”. However, this tends to be far from reality. It is true that hard work and dedication is rewarding, and limitless opportunities do exist, but they are very hard (or nearly impossible) to reach. Most Americans are considered to be successful if:

  • They make 40-50k or more a year
  • Are happy with their job
  • Own a house
  • Have a family

I personally think that some people have this idea that by living in America you can become rich, get a trophy husband/wife, drive an expensive car, and live in a mansion. This may be the “dream”, but it’s not reality.

Being “Loud”

I think Americans tend to be louder than many other people from European countries (not just Germany). We often take pride in having a loud voice, standing a bit taller, taking risks, and generally just having a strong presence.  We like loud voices and confidence.

For example, several of my students have made comments to me saying that I am a “typical American”.  I ask them what makes them say that. They say it’s the way that I walk and talk. I speak with a loud voice and try to have short conversations with nearly everyone (and it’s true).

Ego-centrism/Arrogance

I think Americans can also be arrogant to the point where it becomes borderline egocentric. For example, when I first moved here, I honestly didn’t do much research into cultural differences and just assumed that Germany wasn’t that much different than America.  Side note — Isn’t that part of the definition of Ego-centrism? I mean, I literally thought Germany would be like America. I thought that because my country was so big and so great that Germany should behave the same way. Boy, did I have a shock!

Looking back, I did have a small touch of an arrogance when I had first arrived. When a German tried to correct a cultural behavior of mine, I often blew if off and disregarded their feedback. I thought to myself: it’s not that big of a deal, I’m just going to do it. This was rude. But, slowly over time, I integrated myself and learned not only a respect for German culture, but for foreign cultures as well.  This is a gift that Germany has given me – a gift that I am incredibly thankful for.

Destroying the Planet

Americans make up an estimated 5% of the world’s population. However, the US uses 25% of the world’s resources – burning up nearly 25% of the coal, 26% of the oil, and 27% of the world’s natural gas. (source: dosomething.org)

While the times are changing, a lot of Americans have a complete disregard for the environment and continue to contribute to high amounts of pollution. Germany is 100% the opposite. They have a reward system in place for returning bottles, heavy laws and regulations on waste management, and even provide tax incentives for using cleaner energy!  Side note – I am sure that they have more, but unfortunately, I don’t know all of them. The ones that I have listed above are ones that I have experienced first-hand. I know that they also have regulations on energy for both residential and commercial uses, but I don’t really know enough about it to talk about it.

Smiling 


(Image Source: Flickr, Creative Commons License user @Bryan Allison)

Finally, I think Americans are better at simply smiling more often.  It doesn’t matter if we have had a bad day, week, month, year, life, whatever… we always try to smile. I think this is something that gets a bit lost in Germany (and many other European countries).

 

What do you think of my list? Similar to my list about Germans, I tried to be both honest, fair, and a bit cheeky. If you disagree or think I missed something, please let me know in the comments below!

 

Thanks for my reading my blog!

Interesting Facts About Germany

funfactsaboutgermany

I found some of these online and heard about some these from friends. I found them all to be very interesting and a few quite funny! Here we go!

  1. It’s against the law to run out of fuel on the German Autobahn.
  2. College education is virtually free (even for international students).
  3. The Berlin Zoological Garden is the largest zoo in the world.
  4. Germany has the largest population in the European Union.
  5. The Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) tradition came from Germany.
  6. Chancellor Angela Merkel has a Barbie doll made after her.
  7. 65% of the German Autobahn (highway) has no speed limit.
  8. When JFK visited Berlin, he infamously said “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which also translates to “I am a jelly donut.”
  9. Hamburgers got their name from Hamburg, Germany.
  10. 60% of YouTube’s 1,000 most popular videos are blocked in Germany.
  11. Fanta originated in Germany as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during WW2.
  12. The first magazine ever seen was launched in 1663 in Germany.
  13. Performing the Nazi salute in Germany is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison.
  14. Nearly a third of Germany is powered by renewable energy.
  15. Americans spend more money on pets yearly than Germany spends on its entire defense budget.
  16. Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris and has more bridges than Venice.

20+ Things That Germans Do Better

20+ ThingsGermansdobetterthanAmericans

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). 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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).

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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)

  1. 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?

Trilingual

What do you call someone who speaks two languages?

Bilingual

What do you call someone who speaks one language?

American

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. 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)

  1. 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.

  1. 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).

  1. 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.

  1. Frugality

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.)

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

7 German Words and Phrases That Sound Funny in English (full-size image below)

sevenwordsingermanthatsoundfunnyinenglish

Seven German Words and Phrases That Sound Funny in English
(full-size image below)

GEIL

The literal translation of the word means horny. However, thanks to slang, it also means cool or great. So one could say that my cooking is really horny.

KUMMERSPECK

“grief bacon” This describes the state of overeating due to stress and/or anxiety.  I eat a lot of bacon even when I don’t have stress. So I guess this doesn’t apply to me.

BACKPFEIFENGESICHT

This literally translates to “back pipe face”. It means that someone has a face that looks like it needs a good slap. Ouch!

HANDSCHUHSCHNEEBALLWERFER

“Someone who wears gloves and throws snow balls” Basically, every troll who posts mean comments online. If I ever get a mean or unfair comment, I’m going to accuse them of wearing gloves and throwing snowballs.

OHRWURM

“ear worm” The next time you get a song stuck in your head, you can say that you have an ear worm. (Everyone will totally understand what you mean.)

INNERER SCHWEINEHUND

Your “inner pig dog”. It’s basically that little voice in the back of your head that comes up with excuses as to why it’s okay to stay home and skip the gym.

WELTSCHMERZ

“world pain” This is used to describe the feeling when something in the world doesn’t live up to your expectations.

Seven German Words and Phrases That Sound Funny in English

German vs American Culture: Jaywalking and Grocery Shopping

Jaywalking in Germany

If you ask any American about jaywalking, they will probably shrug their shoulders and wonder why you are asking. For us, this is a completely normal activity. It's not that we blindly cross an intersection without looking, but if the sign is red and there aren't any cars coming, we just simply cross.  No harm, no foul, right? 😉

If you ask a German about jaywalking, they will probably answer with a very quick and short answer: no.  It's funny, because quite often a lot of Germans know that Americans jaywalk and they don't really approve or understand it.

It took me years to come up with a theory as to why the Germans are so adverse to jaywalking. I think it's basically for two reasons.

  1. Germans walk a lot more than Americans (this includes a lot of young and unsupervised children).
  2. The traffic system in general is very efficient. Basically, the lights change faster (they even have a special yellow light to warn you that the light is about to become green) and everything is so well-timed, that it can sometimes be harder to guess if it's "safe" to jaywalk.  (Okay, as I'm typing this, the first part of the theory is much more solid.)

A crosswalk for pedestrians in Wuppertal, Germany. (image source: Google Maps)

Grocery Store Shopping in Germany

Generally speaking, the grocery stores are smaller in Germany and the aisles are more narrow.  They do have some bigger stores but those tend to be either more expensive or what I consider to be "inconvenient". I say inconvenient because the cheaper "big grocery chains" mostly require you to park in an indoor parking garage that sometimes takes awhile to get in and out of.

But even with the smaller spaces, most shoppers in Germany are friendly. There have been a few occasions where I have felt a bit angry due to someone aggressively jumping the line or people who don't respect personal space the same way that I try to do. But I suppose that really happens everywhere.

Note: I've posted some pictures below of various supermarkets and grocery stores in Germany.

Finally, the other big "shock" for me was the check-out process. First of all, I want to say that I love how fast it is. I can always rely on a speedy cashier and fast checkout process. Another good point about German grocery stores is that customers waiting in line will often invite you to go ahead of them if you only have a couple of items (I love this and try to do it for others, too!).
On the downside, after paying .10 (or so) for a bag or two, you need to bag it yourself. That's right! There aren't any baggers in Germany! So after the speedy cashier nearly throws your food (or at least what feels like throwing) through the checkout line, you either can put seven items or less into a bag very quickly or you need to place the items in the cart so you can bag them after you politely take your leave.
It's faster this way, but sometimes I miss the relaxing experience of an American grocery store. The cashiers in the USA also tend to be a bit slower and more social.

 

German Grocery Stores Compared to USA
German Grocery Stores Compared to USA
German Grocery Stores Compared to USA

Pictures:
Left: German discount grocery store (image credit: www.golocal.de)
Top-Right: Inside of a Rewe Superstore: (image credit: www.rewe.de)
Bottom-Right: Lidl Grocery Store (image credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons)

Cost of Living: America vs. Germany

Cost of Living in Germany (Compared to America)
In my opinion, they end up being about the same. Some of the living expenses in Germany are higher than the USA while some of the living expenses in America are higher. That doesn’t really help much, does it? I’ll explain what I mean.

Let’s make a small list of general living expenses:
rent
utilities (gas and electric)
car (and gas)
food/dining
entertainment

Note: I’m leaving things like pension, health insurance, and a few other things because those get a bit complicated. They change depending on if you are self-employed, contracted, public/private something or another, and the list goes on.

Also, I have compared the city where I am from (Cincinnati) to where I live now (Wuppertal).
Rent:
In general, the actual cost of rent seems to be cheaper than the USA. I’ve ran a few numbers and compared these on different websites. The cost of rent can be cheaper by around 20-30%. Moreover, in Germany the sizes of flats/apartments are highly varied. The emphasis in Germany seems to be much more on what you pay per square meter.

Utilities:
These are without a doubt, much more expensive in Germany. Germany has stronger regulations and taxes on energy sources (focusing more on renewable energy). I compared my home (a medium-sized, tri-level) to a similar home in Germany and discovered that the cost of utilities increased by about 40-60%.

Cars and Cost of Fueling:
The cost for fuel is much higher in Germany. In this comparison, I have converted euro to dollar and liters to gallons. This comparison should speak for itself.
As of: April 17, 2017 (Wuppertal, Germany to Cincinnati, Ohio)
$5.56 per gallon (Wuppertal, Germany) – $2.40 per gallon (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Food and Dining:
Overall, I think the food is cheaper in Germany. This is mostly my opinion. Something important to note here is that the grocery stores in Germany are relatively divided. What I mean is that there are cheap stores that provide discounted prices compared to the bigger stores which can be more expensive but with a higher selection and quality. Due to this divide/segmentation (not sure what to call it), the prices fluctuate heavily. However, on the average, I still think the prices are lower. I went back home to Cincinnati a few weeks ago and the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables (at a quick glance) seemed to be anywhere from 20-30% more expensive.
However, I think dining out in the USA is generally cheaper (but not by much). One of the biggest things to note here is “free refills”. In Germany, you have to pay for every drink (including water) and there is no such thing as a “free refill”. The average cost per person at a decent restaurant (including a drink) tends to run about 20 euro in Germany. Just don’t get a refill/second drink!

Germans and Americans: Greetings

German Culture and Lifestyle: Greetings

As an American living in Germany, I have learned a lot about people. In my city, (Wuppertal) I have met people from all over the world – Italy, France, Spain, Poland, Greece, Syria, Iran, and many others. It has been in these intercultural exchanges that I have learned a lot about people and other cultures. There are notable cultural differences that I have found to be interesting throughout my experiences in Germany. I won’t go into all of them in this post, however, I would like to address the way Americans and Germans greet each other.

In the USA, it’s quite common to greet someone with a “Hello. How are you?”. I never really thought about it, as I have grown up my entire life knowing this to be both a polite and courteous way of saying hello. I suppose that I don’t really care how most people are doing, unless if they are close to me. But this is still my preferred way to say hello. It just simply sounds nice – at least to me, anyway.

In Germany, it’s quite uncommon to use this greeting. I have tried to use it (in German) to Germans. They often seem to either be confused or they respectfully answer the question knowing that I am some type of strange foreigner from a galaxy far, far away. But really, they prefer just a simple “Hello”. They might also say “Good day”.

What is interesting about all of this is when a German asks me why we say “How are you?”. I don’t really know what to say. I mean, how do I answer this? I guess to put it simply – I just like it. For me, when I say hello to someone, whether I know or the person or not, I want to be friendly.