It doesn’t matter how long I live in Germany, I’ve been here for ten(+) months and I could live here the rest of my life(and who knows, I just might!), but there are still some things I will never understand about the way of the country and the people. Don’t get me wrong, Germany is the place I’ve come to call home, but some things I still find a little too different to be considered ‘comparable.’
1) The bathrooms in German houses always have the light switch to the bathroom in the hallway. This means you can’t turn the light on from inside the bathroom. Not only is that simply strange to begin with, but I always imagine an angry older sibling locking his younger sibling in the bathroom (because the doors are designed so that they can be locked from the inside and the outside) and turning the light off, leaving the small child locked alone in a dark bathroom. That just doesn’t sound very pleasant, now does it?
2) It doesn’t matter what temperature it is outside, generally speaking Germans are ALWAYS in the mood for ice-cream. I mentioned that to my host-dad and he made a very good point in saying if they waited for the weather to be good, they would never eat ice-cream.
3) German street names are absolute horrors. As a general rule, they all have a minimum 27 letters and sound roughly the same. This tends to mean that maps are absolutely covered in text, and getting a feel for road shape and direction should require a degree.
4) The German school system (consisting of ”Grundschule,” “Hauptschule," “Realschule” and “Gymnasium”) is so incredibly unlike the U.S. school system that it is honestly pointless to even begin describing the differences. If anything it would make more since to describe the similarities, the conversation would be much shorter, if not non-existent.
5) Dogs do exactly as they please. They come on the buses, into the grocery stores, and they sit on chairs in cafes. They even do their business on the ‘pedestrian part’ of the sidewalk. Watch your step!
6) Stay out of bike side of the sidewalk when walking. If not, the bikers will murder you without a second thought. (Especially in Berlin where the biking paths are known as ‘the second death strip.’)
7) Generally speaking, at pools and beaches people will stare females down more intently when they are wearing board shorts over their bathing suits then if they were naked. Trust me, I’ve learned from experience. Men and woman also go into saunas naked together. Totally normal.
8) Particularly bloody cuts and wounds are generally described as “not tasty” (nicht lecker).
9) German toilets are just… well… weird. I’m sorry, everything in Germany is “different,” not weird… except for the toilets. Yes, the toilets are weird.
10) If you don’t want to see nipples, don’t turn on the TV. I’m serious. I know I have frequently written throughout the year that in Germany ‘soft porn’ is normal on the television and the newspapers, but I honestly could not emphasize that enough. Especially the program of the private stations at night can be a series of phone sex commercials.
11) So you say your hungry? Cool, do you want a Dönner Kebab, or bread from the bakery? It’s your choice, bread for your already parched mouth, or yummy yummy (and I really do mean delicious) grease. Several streets are consisted of kebab shops on a rotated basis.
12) Germans can legally buy alcohol at the age of 16, and can’t get their full drivers license until they’re 18. While this has become totally normal to me, whenever I mention it to my Californian friends for the first time, they’re usually speechless.
13) On the Autobahn, no speed limit sign actually means no speed limit. And people wonder why I ride my bike EVERYWHERE no matter the weather, I’m still terrified of how fast the Germans drive.
14) Germans are obsessed with privacy, yet they answer the phone with their last name rather than with “Hallo.” Oh, and “Kock” is a common German last name.
15) Tissues are ‘man’s best friend.’ Not dogs. Tissues.
Yeah, so it’s a little different, but Germany is my one true love.
(Oh, and Happy Birthday and belated Father’s Day Dad!)