Wednesday, June 6, 2012

America vs. Germany Part IV.1 - some random stuff. And a cute chicken.

Hallo Ihr Lieben,

as most of you know I am a German native who is currently living in the United States of America and I guess you can imagine that there are some major differences between those two countries. I have talked about ice cubes in my drinks, driving in America and going to a restaurant. And today I want to discuss some smaller differences between my two countries.

First of all: It really is a big adventure to live in a completely strange country. I mean, everybody reads and sees things about America on the news, in books etc. And you think you know a lot about the other country. But some things are quite shocking to you when you actually live in that country. Even when you heard about it before. So there are many things I am still getting used to. There are things I like better in America and also things I like better in Germany. 
Personally I like to read about all the differences between countries so I hope you will enjoy reading this.

1. bank notes.

It was so weird for me when I came to America for the first time. In Germany I changed some Euros into Dollars because I thought I would need it. In Germany you don't use your credit card when you go to the bakery to get a bread for 2 Euros. You pay cash. So I thought it would be better to change some money. I have seen the American bank notes before but when I actually had them in my hands it was quite a shock. They all look the same! The have the same size, almost the same color...only the number on it is different. So when I actually go somewhere and pay cash (I really feel weird when I pay 2,56 Dollars with my credit card) then I get really confused and people have to be patient with me. I have to take all  the notes out of my wallet and look at them to find the one I need. It is even more confusing with the coins because I am not used to them yet. I have to look at every single one to see what it is. And the writing is so small that it takes forever to read it. So I am sure I look like a complete idiot at the check out. It is so much easier to pay with Euros. Sure I am used to them but honestly, it was much easier to get used to Euros than to Dollars. We changed our currency back in 2002 from Deutsche Mark to Euro. And it was no problem. I did not feel like an idiot (sure everybody had to get used to it but still). So yeah, most time I just pay with my credit card to avoid that people make fun of the weird European girl who can't handle her money.

Aren't they cute? Different colors, different sizes, different architecture on it. 

2. trains.

I don't have a car here in America. I never thought that it would be such a problem but you can't get anywhere without a car! No chance! Okay, I lived in a very small town in Germany (700 people live there) and the public transportation wasn't that great there but at least there was public transportation! The town I live in now is much bigger but: No bus! Not one single bus! No train! Not even bike lanes. Not even a sidewalk on the busiest road in town. So I take the bike to go to grocery stores. And yes, I am the only one who does that. People honk all the time. I am scared. There are so many cars and I have to drive on their road to get to the grocery store. It is more than terrifying! It is hell. Is there a bicycle stand in front of the grocery store? No. So I have to hide my bike behind some flowers and hope that it will still be out there when I come back. But I guess nobody will steal it because people don't really have a use for it. They have their cars. In Germany I took the train to go to work. I had time to read and drink a coffee and I did not have to worry about traffic jams and finding a place to park. I think the whole time here in America I have seen 2 trains. It is weird. Sure there is the subway in New York etc. But I don't live in a huge city like that. So: No public transportation.

                                                            German train station.

3. beer.

I guess you knew that I have to talk about this topic. There is no doubt that German beer is better than American beer. German beer is probably the best in the world. It is a huge part of our culture.  But I really don't want to get into detail. The thing I want to talk about is the drinking age. In Germany you can buy beer when you are 16, you have to be 18 to buy stuff like vodka, rum etc. In America you have to be 21 to even get a beer in a bar. That is really weird for me and I don't know what to think about it. Is it good? Or not? I mean, you can drive when you are 16 but you have to wait 5 years to be able to buy a beer. I have to admit that I sometimes feel like an alcoholic here in America. I don't drink much, a beer or two at the weekend. Or we share a bottle of wine. When I go to a party I have a couple of drinks. For me that's normal. you won't find a German party without alcohol. Most people drink responsibly. But here I am the only person in my American family who even drinks alcohol. Except of David...I am a bad influence, I really am. But there is no wine at family parties. How is that in other families?

4. friendliness.

Yes, Americans are much friendlier than Germans. At least on the outside. Germans can be grumpy, I admit it. When you go to a party as a stranger it might be difficult to start a discussion with a group of Germans. That's not because we are completely unfriendly. We are shy. We need some time to get used to the situation. We need to figure out what to say first. We are reserved. But we DO like you. Trust me. So just start a conversation with us and you will see that most of us are really nice. Americans are always friendly. In every store people smile at you, when you go to the post office the person behind you starts a conversation with you. In Germany people complain why they have to wait so long. I know. That's annoying. But we don't mean it. We don't hate everybody else who waits at the post office. Really. That's just how we are. Americans smile a lot. Germans not so much. We only smile when we mean it. I like it that Americans are always friendly. I also have to admit that sometimes it's a bit too much. It hurts to have to smile back all the time. Haha. But I do my best. Just don't hate me when I am not in the mood to smile. I can still be friendly. Even when I don't smile at you. Sometimes it is so exhausting. But Americans never get exhausted of that. How is that?

5. recycling.

Well, that's really weird for me in America. In Germany I have my "Gelber Sack" (yellow sack) where I put my plastic cups, cans, aluminium foil etc. in. I have a "Biotonne" for things like plants, grass, leftover food. I have a container for white glass, a container for brown glass, a container for green glass, a container for paper, one for clothes and shoes, there is a place you can bring your old batteries, a place where you can bring oil, paint etc. And there is a trash can for everything else. 
Here in America I have a ton. Period. That's weird. I don't like that. At least we found one place in town where you can bring some of the stuff and sort it. Like paper and glass. But what's with my Gelbe Sack-trash? I am desperate! Help me! I feel bad just to put it in the normal trash? I want to rinse my yogurt cup and put it in a sack! I grew up with that and I feel really really really bad when I can't do that! 

Oh, there are lots more differences I want to talk about. So please make sure to come back to read the next part of my little series.

My song of the day is "Schwarz zu blau" by Peter Fox. A pretty cool groovy German song about Berlin. 

Oh and I have the feeling that people like cute animal pictures. :) So here's a little adorable chicken for you!

You can also read about the strange fact that German movies never use the original American title here  (Mein Baby gehoert zu mir, ist das klar?) and some funny facts about Germans here. (You know you're German when...)

Have a lovely Wednesday!!


  1. Ach, ich find das toll über die Unterschiede zu lesen!
    Ich glaub ich wäre komplett aufgeschmissen, ich hab nichtmal einen Führerschein :D

    1. Ich glaube jeder hat hier einen Führerschein und mindestens ein Auto. Haha. Ich bin echt die Einzige, die hier mit dem Fahrrad zum Supermarkt fährt. Ich find Züge echt sowas von praktisch, aber hier gibts keinen weit und breit.

    2. In Amerika hat wirklich jeder einen Führerschein, geht ja gar nicht ohne...
      Brad's Oma hat damals mit 14 Jahren einen Antrag ausgefüllt und 25ct bezahlt...dann hatte sie den Führerschein o_O
      Auch jetzt ist es weder schwer noch teuer ihn zu bekommen. Ich bin am Tag vor der praktischen Prüfung bei Brads Schwester mitgefahren und habe Todesängste ausgestanden...aber sie hat bestanden!
      Ich stelle mir dich gerade beim Bezahlen vor, wie du versuchst die richtigen Scheine zu finden :) Das ist aber echt ätzend!

      Liebe Grüße!

    3. Haha, 25 cent.Das ist herrlich! Wenn ich dran denke, was mein Führerschein gekostet hat! Ach je! Aber es stimmt, der ist auch jetzt hier noch wesentlich billiger als in Deutschland! Und auch die Prüfung scheint wesentlich einfacher zu sein.
      Ich glaub, ich seh beim Bezahlen echt lustig aus! :)

  2. I love reading stuff like this ...hearing all of the differences. I love it.

    1. I will swipe my debit card for anything. I never used to in college, but ever since I graduated and have my check direct deposited into my account, I never have cash on me.

    2. I have a car, and wouldn't be able to get anywhere without it. Sad, but true.

    3. There is always beer at my family parties. Oh wait, that's because I bring it haha. Totally depends on the family, I think.

    4. That's what we call "social smiling"! I hate it. I don't do it. Just stop smiling back. Really, just stop! I did and I don't regret it. Ever.

    5. I'm lucky, and live in a town that allows us to recycle everything. Separate bins for it, too!

    1. Glad you like it, Alissa! :)
      1. I am getting used to it. Mostly because the notes are too complicated for me. Haha. But at some places in Germany you are not even allowed to pay with your card when it's under 10 Euros.
      2. Yeah, I guess there is no other choice in America. :)
      3. I am sure it depends on the family. In Germany I never have to bring alcohol because it's always there. (I bring more for sure)
      4. I think you're right. I should stop. Social smiling sounds so wrong.
      5. That's cool! They should have that here!

  3. Hallo Katrin,

    how I love to read these posts. They always make me smile or sometimes laugh out loud.
    Funny how you're having such a hard time with the money over there. I wouldn't pay such small amounts with a credit card either. But then I never really had problems getting used to the currency.
    I especially like the part about recycling. We do sort and recycle our trash like no other nation on the planet does. I guess Americans think that is really weird. Although I think it depends on which area you live in. I remember that my host family had a separate bin for plastic trash and a separate spot where they collected the paper trash as well.

    Liebe Grüße

    1. Hallo Chrissy!
      Glad you like it! :)
      I guess I am just too confused about the money. Hopefully I'll get used to it!
      I really wish they'd had separate bins here too! It is so weird because it's so normal in Germany!

  4. I was always jealous that other countries have such pretty money and ours is uggo.
    Your town only had 700 people? I went to high school with over 2000! That's crazy!
    I'm thankful for self checkout for when I don't feel like being friendly, haha.

    1. Deutsche Mark was pretty ugly too. :)
      And yeah, my "town" has only 700 people, a hair salon and a bakery. No grocery store etc. But the city I worked in is much bigger. :)

  5. I love so much about this post. Move yourself to CO where recycling, BEER (homemade!), bike lanes
    and buses run amok! :)

    1. Oh, homemade beer! recycling! buses! bike lanes! Kari! Everything! :))

  6. Oh, man. I almost cried when I didn't have anywhere to recycle my plastic today... it was bad. I felt like a criminal.

  7. i think these are fun!!!! ;) it is especially funny because the US is so large that things vary depending on where you are in the states. where im from sounds so drastically different than where you're living.

    one thing i hate about the US is the public transportation though LOL! where i grew up we had it. but if you take it you run the risk of being murdered or something so it's not such a good idea! i love the public transportation in is so efficient and useful. i hope the US can pick up on that someday...but i just dont know how well it will adapt with the society with the current generations...hopefully well with ones down the road.

    where im from we recycle alot! but we put everything in a bin and the recycling people separate it for us (it provides them a job so it is what it is). i grew up recycling and when i moved to bergen we hardly did it! but in oslo they recycle alot thank goodness. :)

    growing up when i lived in the states i disagreed w/ the drinking age being 21. i actually even did a report on it in college that was like 40 pages long of how i disagreed with it. after moving to norway...i absolutely agree with it now. isn't it strange!? i think it is b/c norwegians cant drink maturely. it actually has turned me off of partying all together. i hate the way they party and i judge so i just dont join :) but i realize now why the drinking age is what it is in the US and im actually for once, in agreeance with it!

    and i reallllly miss the friendliness of americans. there are just so many manners lacked in europe. just common courtesy of saying 'thank you' when someone holds the door for you, etc. ive gotten to the point where i tell them 'you're welcome' loudly just so they get the point of mannerisms. i dont think americans are fake with their niceness...i think it is very sincere and a part of our culture. we just like talking to strangers :)

    hope you're havin a great week!

    1. Yeah, I guess it really depends on where you live. Colorado seems to have a good recycling system. America is so huge and I always forget that it's not a small country like Germany. Haha.

      I am not sure if the US will ever have a public transportation system like many countries in Europe. There are so many little towns everywhere, or just a couple of houses and I am sure it's too much effort to connect them all with a bus system or the train. We will see.

      It is funny that other people separate your trash for you. Not bad.

      Alcohol is pretty expensive in Norway, isn't it? I wonder why Norwegians can't drink maturely.

      I guess the friendliness in Europe really depends on where you are. I have seen very unfriendly people but also people who always smile and say "thank you". I am always very friendly so sometimes it drives me crazy when people don't react the same way. I don't have that problem here in America but sometimes I feel like all the smiling is just fake.

      Have a great week, Megan!

  8. 1. When I lived in a more suburban area, I used to my debit card to pay almost all of the time because I rarely ever carried cash on me, but when I moved to NYC, I started paying in cash more because there were so many locally owned businesses that didn't accept credit cards unless you were making a purchase over $10 or $15 or didn't even accept credit/debit cards at all... and I think that's part of the difference. Most locally owned businesses have a minimum for a credit/debit card purchases because of the fee that they have to pay to process, for a small purchase it isn't worth paying the fee. Most corporations don't care whether or not someone makes a $2 purchase on their card because they make so much money that it doesn't matter.

    2. Yeah. It sucks. One of the reasons I dislike leaving NYC these days is dealing with the logistical nightmare of needing a car when I don't have one anymore.

    3. This is one of those things that varies greatly depending on where you are in the US. In some areas, drinking is more culturally accepted than others... and the fact that you can't get around in most of the US without driving tends to mean that drinking is a less acceptable practice. Having grown used to living in the city where there's public transit, I've also grown used to being able to have a drink or two with dinner and not having to worry about how I'm going to get home but when I do things like visit my parents and have to use a car, I'm much less likely to even bother drinking.

    4. This varies drastically on where you are in the States. Some areas are way friendlier than others!

    5. Recycling is something that isn't terribly standardized in the States. The systems vary greatly depending on where you live. Some places have mandatory recycling, and others don't.

    1. Yeah, I guess you need cash when you go to little family owned places etc. But in Germany even the bigger places (at least some of them) don't accept a payment with credit card when it is under 10 Euros. I understand that because they don't want to pay the fee. But I really paid a lot more cash in Germany or Europe than I do it here.

      There are so many differences between the different states in America. I guess in the bigger cities drinking is a normal thing but it some smaller town, especially where a lot of religious people live, it is just very uncommon and people think it's bad.

      I really wish America had mandatory recycling in all states!

  9. hahaah just love these lists. And regarding the drinking in homes in the US, my family is full and I was always allowed ot have wine with the family before I was 21. Maybe starting around 17? But the family I live with in Germany, the boy turned 16 yesterday and he's been drinking for a couple years. So still pretty crazy difference!

    And I cannot praise the German transportation enough. I lived in Houston where there are 5 million people and only a crappy bus system. Here I love taking the transport with friends and not worrying about things like designated drivers.

    1. There is indeed a big difference. I mean, for me it's okay when you drink a beer with your dinner when you are long as you don't do it excessively. For my family and me alcohol was always a "special occasion" thing so for me it was normal to have some beer or wine at birthdays. But I guess you should not start drinking with 12. :)

      I love the fact that you always have the option to take the train in Germany and that you don't have to worry about drinking a few beers. It's awesome. :)

  10. Katrin, I really enjoyed this post, it really made me appreciate the differences between the two countries. I found using a card to pay for small amounts here in Australia odd too. In Fiji we pay cash as you do in Germany, but here...$3.40 for a hot pull out your card. Unfortunately I've now lost the habit of always having cash on me!

    And with the driving - I don't drive, in Fiji there was so need to. Taxis are cheap and readily available. Thankfully in Canberra we live close to everything, and it's pretty so I don't mind walking. But everyone seems to drive here!

    I can't wait to read the next part of this series. Much love xoxox

    1. Thank you Vanisha! I am glad you enjoyed it! :) I can't really describe it but I feel better when I have some cash in my pocket. You never know when you need it and I guess it will just always be weird for me to pay 3 dollars with a card. :)

      It is nice when you live at a place where you don't need a car. I like biking and walking but sometimes I am really scared here because of the lack of sidewalks. :)

  11. Liebe Katrin,

    ich mag Dein Blog (und Dich) so sehr :-)

    Es ist lustig geschrieben (verzeih' mir bitte, aber es hört sich auch manchmal lustig an, wenn Du verzweifelt scheinst) und sehr informativ für jemanden, welcher noch nie in Amerika war. Wobei ja wohl tatsächlich die "USA" nicht nur aus vielen verschiedenen "Staaten", sondern "Ländern" im weiteren Sinne (kulturell, sprachlich, geographisch ...) bestehen ...

    Bekommen "Amerikaner" denn alle Kreditkarten, unabhängig ihre sozialen/finanziellen Verhältnisse? Oder sind die ärmeren Menschen gezwungen, sich Pre-Paid-Karten anzuschaffen, um überall einkaufen zu können, oder haben und benutzen sie die nur, um offiziell "dabei sein" zu können? Unabhängig davon vermute ich, dass Deutsche vielleicht weniger "technikhörig" sind - also ich habe immer Bargeld bei mir, falls mal die Technik versagt - außerdem haben die wenigsten Bedürftigen, denen man etwas helfen möchte, (zumindest in Deutschland) ein Terminal oder eine Ritsch-Ratsch-Maschine dabei ... :-)

    Und noch ein Satz zum "social smiling": Mir wurde mal von USA-Reisenden erzählt, zumindest in Geschäften sei es so, dass viele Angestellte gezwungenermaßen superfreundlich sind, weil Trinkgelder (ähnlich wie bei Croupiers) in ihrer Entlohnung mit einkalkuliert und sie darauf angewiesen sind. Allerdings: Kennst Du den Begriff des "self-fulfilling behaviour", worüber die eigentlich unechte Freundlichkeit irgendwann in Fleisch und Blut übergeht?!

    Und last but not least: Bei Dir lerne ich endlich FREUDIG 'n bisschen Englisch bzw. frische meine Kenntnisse auf ... :-) Aber Dir das alles in Englisch zu schreiben, traue ich mich nicht ;-)

    1. Hallo PD,
      danke, das ist wirklich nett von Dir! Freut mich!

      Und du brauchst nicht um Verzeihung zu bitten, ich bin ja froh, dass ich selbst in meiner Verzweiflung noch lustig erscheine. Haha. Manche Erfahrungen, die ich hier mache sind wirklich einfach nur lustig, weil sie wohl nur einem Europäer komisch vorkommen und die Sachen hier einfach ganz normal sind.

      Du, das System mit den Kreditkarten versteh ich selbst nicht so ganz. Ich werd David da mal genauer befragen und Dir dann berichten, okay? Ich weiß jedenfalls, dass man eine "credit history" braucht, um überhaupt eine Kreditkarte zu bekommen. Was schonmal recht komisch ist, da man erstmal Schulden machen muss und diese dann brav abbezahlen muss um eine gute history zu haben. Als Einwanderer hat man da wohl erstmal Pech. Ich hab mal gehört, dass es inzwischen ein neues System gibt, eine sogenannte Secure credit card für Einwanderer. Das heißt man bezahlt an das Kreditunternehmen erstmal einen gewissen Betrag und bekommt dann einen Kreditrahmen über diesen Betrag. Alles ziemlich kompliziert. Ich glaube aber, dass jeder Amerikaner zumindest eine Kreditkarte hat. Ich hab jedenfalls noch niemanden ohne gesehen. Was für mich echt seltsam ist. Ich hab jedenfalls erst seit ein paar Jahren eine Kreditkarte und die hatte ich mir damals auch nur zugelegt, weil ich online Sachen bestellen wollte und das ohne nicht ging. Haha. Vorher hatte ich nur ne normale EC Karte und war auch ganz zufrieden damit. In Deutschland hab ich meine Kreditkarte auch wirklich nur benutzt, wenn ich was bestellt habe...oder wenn ich zum Tanken nach Luxemburg bin. Hier benutzen die Leute die echt überall. Auch in Restaurants, was für mich echt komisch ist, weil ich in Deutschland immer bar in Restaurants bezahle. Komisch. Naja, jedenfalls haben hier die meisten Amerikaner auch mehrere Kreditkarten. Bei manchen bekommt man dann 3% cash back auf Benzin, 2% auf Lebensmittel etc. David hat jedenfalls mehrere Karten und ich blick da nicht durch. :) Ich hab nur eine und die hab ich bekommen, weil David mich zu seinem Konto hinzugefügt hat und das ging auch nur mit der Greencard. So das war jetzt ziemlich viel Geschwafel, ich hoffe ich hab Dich nicht allzu sehr verwirrt.

      Ich fühl mich wirklich besser, wenn ich Bargeld in der Tasche hab. Ich kann echt nur zustimmen...auf die Technik kann man sich nicht immer verlassen, außerdem möchte ich mein Brötchen in der Bäckerei gern bar bezahlen. Und Obdachlosen mit Hunden geb ich eh immer was, da brauch ich Kleingeld! Und die haben nun wirklich keine Kreditkartenzahlung. :)

      Ich denke es ist wirklich Teil des Jobs, die Leute müssen einfach Lächeln und freundlich sein. Ich bin ein von Natur aus sehr freundlicher Mensch und grüße immer und meins dann auch nett. Nur manchmal hab ich das Gefühl, dass alles so unecht ist und das nervt mich dann. :)

      Bin froh, dass mit dem Englisch helfen kann, perfekt ist es aber sicherlich nicht. :)


    1. Thank you so much, Tif! :) You are such a sweetheart! :)

  13. 1. You have cuter money!! I feel silly paying for small things with my debit card too.

    2. I've always wondered about this! You really have to have a car to do anything in America, even in a small town.

    4. Perhaps I would fit in better in Germany, people seem overly friendly to me. It's too much.

    5. Recycling is poor here. Now that we're living in a different town the recycling program is a bit better, but you still can't recycle things like plastic shopping bags or glass.

    1. Well, I had to remove all the spam posts here first, how annoying!

      I think the Euro is really cute money, so colorful. :) I am really having a hard time with dollars!

      And yeah, you should really live in Germany someday, at least for a while! I am sure you would like it! :)

      I really feel bad about the recycling system in America. :)

      Thank you for reading all my posts, Martha!


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