Ever wondered what Culture Shock feels like? Well, here is a report from a true American Guy visiting Germany for the first time! Check it out to learn what will possibly give you a culture shock once you took the flight to the United States of America!
Hey Guys, this is Marshall and I have to say: there's not many more exciting things in life than taking a leap of faith, packing your bags, and moving abroad to a foreign country. In my opinion, this is the best way squash the stereotypes we have about our new host country and experience the culture first hand for what it really is.
As an American moving abroad to Germany, I wasn't prepared for the shock in cultural differences I was about to experience, both good and bad, but also exciting and frustrating. Here are the top 10 cultural differences I experienced while living abroad in Germany:
1. Not all Germans wear dirndl and lederhosen.
For those who don't know these are the colorful form fitted dresses worn by women and the tight leather shorts topped with a green hat worn by men (although lederhosen can be worn by women as well). This is one huge misconception that many Americans have of Germans! We tend to think this is the national dress of the entire German cultural but that is totally incorrect. While it is worn, it's specific to the southern state of Bavaria and not the entire country.
As an American, i'm used to stores being open 7 days a week with some even open 24 hours a day. Not in Germany. When visiting Germany get ready to plan ahead to do your shopping with many stores closing by 6 or 8pm and all stores closed on Sundays.
Germans hate being late! In the states it is common to run late and it's often excusable. For example, when Americans make dinner plans for "around" 7pm it often means 7:30. Not to a German. When making dinner plans with a German the time specified is set in stone and any tardiness is considered rude. Often the German will show up 5 minutes early but never a minute late. So when making plans with German friends make sure to be on time!
4. Public restrooms.
In the states, almost anywhere you go you can find free public restrooms. Whether walking around the mall or at the grocery store a free restroom is always available to the public. This is not the case in Germany as most public restrooms are not free. Most are pay to use and cost around 0.50€ but you can expect them to be clean and well kept.
5. Drinking alcohol in the streets.
In the US it is forbidden to walk around with an open container of alcohol in public. Getting caught can result in a hefty fine and/or jail. This is one of my favorite perks about Germany. It is perfectly legal to take a afternoon stroll down a cobblestone street and marvel at the architecture while enjoying a tasty local brew.
6. Public transportation.
America is not known for it's efficient and easy to use public transportation system. With the exception of a few large cities, most US public transit is often unreliable and inconvenient. This is not the case in Germany. Public transportation there is convenient, easy to use, and is a very cost effective way to travel. Whether going from city to city or just getting around town, the German public transportation system is fantastic and I highly recommend it.
7. German directness.
As Americans, we are taught from a young age that if we don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all. We are encouraged to only state the positive of a situation even if it's very minimal or nonexistent for sake of offending someone. In Germany this is the complete opposite. Germans are very direct and tend to speak the truth, even if it's not sunny and nice. They tend not to "beat around the bush" and get straight to the point. To them speaking honestly is being kind and considerate, while speaking falsely is considered to be disingenuous.
8. The autobahn.
If you love to drive fast then you will love Germany's autobahn. Unlike our fixed speed limits on all American highways, feel free to put your pedal to the metal on the autobahn. On most sections of the autobahn there is no speed limit so expect people to be driving in excess of 100 mph in the fast lane. If you don't wish to feel like a race car driver make sure to be courteous and keep in the right hand lane.
9. Portion size of meals.
In the states we stand behind the believe that bigger is better and our meal portions are no exception. It seems everywhere you out to eat you have the option to supersize or upgrade your meals. I'm not saying this is a good thing but it is a huge contributor to obesity in our country. So when visiting Germany be prepared to get smaller meal portions when dining out. I would say on average that the meal portions are 25% less than the average size that you would get in the states. In general Germans are fairly healthy conscious and are aware of the direct link of overeating and obesity.
10. Use of cash.
When shopping in the US I almost never think to carry cash with me. Besides the inconvenience of it, almost all stores in the US accept all major credit cards and/ or debit cards. When I first came to Germany this took me by a huge surprise. Germany is a very cash oriented country. Although most grocery stores do accept card, a majority of stores and restaurants are cash only so make sure to hit the ATM prior to doing any shopping. Unlike the states where ATMs can be found at almost every gas station, ATMs in Germany are only found inside local banks and financial institutions.