Hey, guys! I have been reflecting lately on some of the cultural differences that we have experienced and appreciated, and here are some of my favorites). Enjoy!
- Germans are awesome at picnicking. You wouldn’t think having a picnic could be an art, but with German friends, it is. Everyone brings delightful homemade goodies, huge blankets, and a laissez-faire attitude that makes having a picnic with Germans incredibly enjoyable. It is hard to pinpoint what it is exactly that makes them so special, but trust me when I say they are.
- Facebook is a whole different beast in Germany. Not only is it not nearly as popular, but people also rarely use their full names. People value privacy here a lot more than in the U.S., and they behave on Facebook accordingly.
- It is also worth mentioning in the realms of tech-y stuff that all Germans are fluent in at least one other language: emojis. In America, we would occasionally throw in a friendly winky face, a heart, or something to that effect. If you really wanted to get crazy though, you’d throw in animals and party themed stuff. When Germans text (which is exclusively through WhatsApp, by the way), they are professionals at communicating everything through emoji. It is adorable and awesome. Sorry if you get a text from us now with a billion faces, cakes (because Germany), and clovers. We have been inoculated to the language of the people.
- Public transportation and biking are wonderful. We live right on a UBahn (like a cable car) line. Not only is it surprisingly quiet, but it is also really convenient. When we aren’t taking the train, we are riding our bikes as a family. It is totally normal to see kids as young as three riding alongside their parent; interestingly, it is totally normal to see older people riding their bikes everywhere. When we aren’t riding our bikes or the train, we are walking. Most things are pretty close together, which makes staying active really easy and fun. Suffice it to say that my Fitbit and my pre-pregnancy jeans both love the extra activity (insert emoji of your choice here… you have to learn sometime).
- Money is a fickle friend here in Germany, or at least the access to money is. Most places don’t take credit cards (and almost NEVER American credit cards), so you really do need to have the money to pay for things you want to buy. German stores are also very strict about EC card (debit card) usage. You have to sign the back of your card, and EVERY cashier at EVERY store will watch you sign the receipt to make sure your signature matches. That means Nick can’t use my card, and I can’t use his. This is quite different from American card usage. For example, when Nick called to order driving records, the woman on the phone didn’t ask any questions when he gave her my card information. I wasn’t even home when he called to verify over the phone or something. Honestly, both systems have their pros and cons, but I don’t mind that the Germans err a bit more on the side of safety.
Germany is a lovely place with very kind people, and we are enjoying acculturating very much!