I’ve spent the past two and a half years living in Germany and over time I have made many realizations and observations of some differences in our cultures. I feel as if I have learned a lot more about the United States as soon as I moved away from there. None of what I am about to write are stereotypes, just personal experiences and things I have noticed. I do love living in Germany although I have had my obstacles at times. Here we go!
In the states we tend to only speak English OR Spanish, probably due to the fact that we only need 2 years of a foreign language in school. In Germany most people speak 2 or 3 languages which must be because they are required to learn English and another language for about 7 years in school.
In the U.S.A. we obviously don’t drink in public due to our strict drinking laws, but in Germany its completely accepted and normal to see men drinking a beer on the S-Bahn on the way home from a hard days work.
Here’s a funny one, in the US, Americans tend to dance with their lower halves of their body, most of the men don’t even really dance, however in Germany men and women dance, but more with their upper bodies and “party fingers in the air”. To add to this, clubs in the US tend to play mostly Hip-Hop and pop music, and in Germany (and Europe in general), more electronic music is played throughout the clubs.
Americans are not always on time, sometimes about 5-10 minutes late, which is OK in my book, but if you’re meeting a German or Germans, punctuality is very important, as they rarely are late!
Yes its true, in the USA we have much bigger streets, and big cars that guzzle gas. Germany and Europe have smaller streets and smaller more practical cars. I’m sure this has to do with the history and how long ago the streets and buildings around them were built.
In the United States we like our water cold, with ice and non-carbonated. In Germany if you ask for a water (Wasser), you will automatically be given/served carbonated water. I don’t understand why this is, but to this day I still stand with the Americans on this one!
In the U.S. Christmas Eve is celebrated on December 24th and Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, also the day the gifts are opened. In Germany however, people celebrate Christmas and open gifts on the 24th of December. They do however also have a holiday called “Nikolaustag” on the 6th of December where children leave their shoes out and hope to find candy in them from the alleged St. Nikolaus!
Americans go to the supermarket probably about once a week. Germans go to the supermarket usually at least 3 times a week. I assume this has to do with the fact that Americans have big cars to transport the food. Germans also tend to eat healthier, fresher foods whereas Americans are no enemy to processed, microwavable foods.
The well-traveled tourism student I am, I must mention that Americans travel a lot less than Germans. This must be partially due to the fact that the average American has 9 working days off a year, and the average German, 30 days off. The United States is also a huge country with many different climates and places to visit, also meaning that traveling outside of the country doesn’t come cheap. Germany is smaller in size, and located in central Europe. Europe is also fortunate enough to have budget airlines making traveling inner Europe easy, and to some extent cheap! Only 37% of Americans have passports, meaning 2 out of 3 Americans cant even fly into Canada or anywhere else for that matter.
Americans love their air conditioning. In cars, in schools, restaurants, etc. Sometimes its even TOO much that it makes people sick or get sore throats, however I have never had a problem with it. In Germany (and most of Europe) air conditioning isn’t as readily available even when its really needed in the summer! Some cars in Germany don’t even have AC built in them!
A silly one, but American men normally DON’T wear skinny jeans, unless they are hipster or gay. German and European men in general DO wear skinny jeans, I personally don’t see anything wrong with it!
In the U.S. waiters/waitresses bring you the bill BEFORE you even ask for it. I find it quite rude and that it initiates that they want you to leave. In Germany a waiter or waitress would never give you the check before asking, unless however the restaurant was closing for the night. I find this nice though, not having to be rushed out of a place just so other people can take a seat.
The last important point I am going to make is the fact that Americans tend to not be as direct and honest as the Germans. Americans don’t want to offend or hurt peoples feelings, even if they have to lie a little bit. Germans are very direct and honest. I think that both extremes are not very well, Americans should not lie, but at the same time Germans should not be so honest to the point of hurting someones feelings. Tough situation.
So, as you can see, the devil is in the details. The American and the European cultures might not seem much different at first glance. But due to those tiny little differences, adjusting to a culture takes more than just reading a Lonely Planet book.