Walking around the town centre and never in my life have I seen so much sensible footwear. Mostly boots. There are no questionable sandals you bought in Primark that will only last a week – there are only thick, outdoor, comfortable sandals. They may not be pretty – but it’s their utter practicability that actually makes them more attractive.
There are hardly any pedestrian accidents here. As I’ve mentioned before, they only cross roads on a green man. Unbelievable isn’t it? In Edinburgh the red man is taken as a mere suggestion.
Private and Secure People
None of the young Germans who I have met and subsequently became ‘friends’ with on Facebook have had their real name as their display name. Also there is very little shared on their newsfeeds. A lesson some of us could take perhaps?
You can pay by card almost nowhere. Even Lidl and Ikea only want your cash. In the UK I’ll pay for things under a pound at the self-service in Tesco with my VISA card, something that I totally take for granted.
And getting set up with the overly secure German online banking system was almost as difficult as my experience with peeling tatties with a 99 cent Ikea peeler. Hint: very difficult.
The Germans have an utter disinterest in small talk. The cashier doesn’t care how your day has been whatsoever.
Lots of asylum seekers have gathered in the Olympic Stadium this week. There has been a huge campaign from the Olympic village residents to help them in any way possible – clothes, translating etc. And it’s amazing. Seeking asylum is a human right that I feel carries so much controversy in the UK.
Another example being that my flat mate for September gave me a kettle.
After a lecture or a presentation in class has ended, the students do not clap. They knock. On the desk with one hand. At first, you can imagine my baffled face as it happened, but I was not surprised in the slightest when it was explained to me – the Germans knock with one hand so that they do not have to waste time to clap with both. So that they can keep writing notes whilst showing their appreciation to the speaker. Wonderful.
I also think that the language (literally) speaks for itself on this one. I could list examples all day but I’ll leave you with just one: Staubsauger. This translates to dust sucker. Which we would call a hoover. How great is that?
We’ve all heard that stereotype that German woman are, how to say, not bothered about the gardening. Although I cannot confirm or deny this stereotype as I have not had any direct experience – I can say that the people are extremely body confident. The sheer Adam and Eve nakedness in swimming pool showers and saunas would actually be illegal in the UK. I feel like our whole attitude to the naked body in the UK could do with a lesson from Germany, why are natural things made out to be so provocative in our society? Why are we so embarrassed of our bodies? Maybe a question for another day.
Another thing that I have noticed is that here in Germany, children are children for much longer. The little girls dress like little girls up to a much higher age than in the UK.
Environmentally Friendly People
Even the students take the time to sort their food waste from their paper waste here. You receive ‘pfand’ (money back) for empty bottles you are finished with that you take back to the supermarket. It’s a great money-saver for students. Money saver student tip number 2: sleep through breakfast and go straight to lunch so as to save money on food.
(Except this may have happened today)
(But it was karaoke night last night so I can’t blamed).
Anyway, whether you like their behavioural ways or not, Germans probably made your car, your washing machine and brewed your beer. Being the dominant country in Europe today, both politically and economically, they’ve got to be doing something right.
I’m sure I have a lot more still to note about the German culture so watch this space. For now, I’m excited about going out every day and learning something new about this city I love and call my home – and like any true love its totally and utterly unpredictable.