I shouldn’t claim that just because I like the way the Germans do the following 10 things, that the way Americans do them is umgekehrt (which is German for absolutely and inexplicably backwards.) I shouldn’t claim this, but I will.
There are so many things that you see when you begin to adventure outside of your comfort zone. Some are good, and some are bad. But some things that you see are just so right that you can’t help but wonder why they don’t do the same things everywhere else in the world. This happened to me in Germany. After living there and moving home, I struggled to understand why some of the wonderful things about Germany couldn’t be replicated at home like:
I don’t even like beer and I think German beer is good. Seriously. There is so much variety that it is highly unlikely that you won’t find one to your taste. Every region, in fact, has its local brew that it produces with the only three ingredients allowed in German beer: grain, hops, and water.
It is such good quality that even its mass-produced beer like Heiniken is considered an interesting brew to guzzle down here in America. (Just a note: In Germany, this same beer is 1.50 in a kiosk and is basically the equivalent of a Sam Adams.) Imagine if you had a cold, fresh-brewed pint instead.
Germans eat outside in all weather. I don’t care if it’s sleeting and the sky looks like it is touching the ground, there is always a nice patio that you can sit on and enjoy the nice German landscape.
They even have a saying: there is no bad weather, there are just bad clothes. If that doesn’t give you an insight into the German mentality, then I’m not sure what will!
If you are planning on going to Germany on holiday, the one thing you need to know is that everything is closed on Sundays. Except for maybe the local Biergarten, Sundays are designed so that you spend time with friends, enjoy the outdoors, and recharge before you begin a new workweek.
Unfortunately, even if this custom drives you up a wall, it is here to stay. Germans guard their free time religiously, and honestly, I think it’s something we should learn from them.
Coffee and Cake
Possibly my favorite thing about Germany is their penchant for coffee and cake time. It’s a bit like British Tea Time, but it ups the ante. Why have mini crumpets and some mildly-caffeinated tea when you could have a thick slice of Himbeere Kuchen and a cup of strong, black coffee? Just be careful, don’t make it a daily habit, otherwise your walks will have to start getting longer.
Do you have nothing to do? Well, go for a walk then. Strolling on the banks of the Rhine, exploring your local park, and general aimless wandering are all very valid ways to occupy yourself in Deutschland. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find a German who doesn’t enjoy a nice afternoon stroll when the sun is shining. And with the beautiful scenery, can you really blame them?
In Germany, they take job training incredibly seriously. You can’t just have a three-month internship in a coffee house and say you’re qualified to serve coffee. Nope. You need to understand the process from beginning to end. How are beans sourced? How are they roasted? What are the EU packaging laws that must be adhered to? Can you flavor profile beans like a sommelier?
Even after you learn all this, you still need to sit your exams. You have three tries to pass them, and if you don’t do well, then clearly you aren’t qualified to work that position.
So why is this good? Well, you know if it takes so much work to be employable even behind the meat counter at Rewe, that whoever is helping you either really, really likes their job, or they are really, really good at it. Or both.
If you live in any American city outside of Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or DC you know what I am talking about.
Sure there are bikes on the road here in America too. We even have those nice little bumper stickers that say “Share the road with cyclists!” But we still don’t really like to, instead preferring to grumble at them angrily and swerve around them too narrowly.
Germans, on the other hand, treat bikes as cars. In fact, in many places they have not only their own lanes but their own autobahns! In northwestern Germany (Nord-Rhine Westphalia) for example they are currently constructing a bike autobahn on old, unused railway lines so that bikes won’t have to deal with cars. Not the other way around.
If you didn’t gather it from this list, I will just tell you, I love Germany. I don’t care what time of the year it is or what region you are visiting, Germany is great.
Though it has been the butt of many jokes and has a reputation for having one of the most gorgeous European languages, there is a reason that Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe. I’ll give you a hint: it is not due to their lack of a speed limit on the autobahn. There are so many hidden cultural gems that Germany doesn’t get credit for. Why not set aside their reputation for a tough exterior and dig a little deep to really get to know what this fascinating country is all about.
Have you been to Germany? What do you love about the culture that you wish you could bring back home? I’m curious so comment and let me know!