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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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!!