On Observations

Practical People

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.

Direct People

The Germans have an utter disinterest in small talk. The cashier doesn’t care how your day has been whatsoever.

Friendly People

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.

Logical People

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?

Body-Confident People

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.
(I’m kidding)
(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.

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7 thoughts on “On Observations

  1. I am also on an Erasmus project in Germany and I agree completely. Normally i live in Belgium which is only 3hours away but the differences are huge. Especially about the practical and private part. it´s nice to hear I am not the only one with those opinions. Great post.

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  2. Brilliant blog Jennifer. It reminds me of a week in Southern Germany more than 20 years ago. I remember cakes that looked lovely but taste of nothing, dreadful food that made British cuisine seem interesting (unless you went to the Italian restaurants), and the cleanliness and order. It’s amazing how whole city districts were rebuilt after the war as a replica of the medieval original. It would never have occurred to the British to do that. Not sure what that says about the Germans or the British. The alps are fantastic. The Black Forest is the Trossachs with cuckoo clocks. Being in the centre of Europe and absorbing its history makes you realise how small, peripheral and downright poor Scotland was for a long time (Shetland excepted of course!).

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    • Hi Philip! I totally agree on the cakes thing. The cities are beautiful, its a shame that some of our cities in the UK that were ruined and rebuilt are so grey and a bit ugly. I will definitely need to go to the Black Forest, it is on the list of to-dos! Yes you’re right about being the in centre of Europe. Its also not as isolated as the UK and I’m able to just nip into another country whenever I want (being a student with no proper responsibilites also helps with this). I’ll have to try and arrange a trip to Madrid!

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